Welcome to The Fifth Estate
This is a website for optimists.
Its spirit comes from the centre of Australia. The Dead Centre it’s often called.
Yet it is anything but dead.
Beneath the surface sandy-glare it teems with life of the most tenacious kind. New saplings growing out of dead trunks. Brilliant fruits ripen quickly, almost surreptitiously, to beat the predators.
No water? Dig the dry pool beds and find fish that can hibernate for eight years until the rains come, when they wake up, spawn, then go back to sleep.
It’s a land of inventiveness and adaptation.
Now, in the same spirit of determination as this amazing land, it’s time to set a new target: to limit warming as much as possible.
We’ve probably missed the first target – to stop the ratchet-up of global temperatures to less than 2 degrees. That’s the negative scientific consensus that came out the recent meeting in Copenhagen.
Not because we “can’t” meet better targets. We have the technology, the skills and know-how to ramp up a carbon-neutral energy economy any time we want.
We could even have the money if you look at the billions so quickly found to patch up the latest Ponzi scheme that gave us the global financial meltdown.
The only thing really missing is the Will – a simple decision, taken collectively; a flick of the switch to positive.
The built environment gets this message.
The industry was the earliest adopter of the “new” economy that we need to craft in order to replace the one that has landed us in such a mess.
At the top of the property totem pole the people heading up investment companies, engineering firms, consultancies and builders all know that buildings need to be sustainable.
For major buildings, this is now a must.
Soon it will be all new buildings. New residential development is well on the way to six star energy rating across the country and the regulatory eyes are now settling on seven and eight star ratings and possibly even carbon neutral status in the next few years.
Attention is also turning to the existing building fabric – how to equip our built environment for lower energy and water use .
As the famed McKinsey & Co report shows – and a swag of conservative economic commentators agree – this is where we can achieve the fastest, cheapest carbon savings.
Not to mention energy cost savings, the almost instant stimulation of jobs, training, new technology and ethical investments – the wheels of wealth cranking up again.
In his recent book, Resilient Cities – Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change, Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University in Perth made the link between economic recovery and the take up of new technology.
What is exciting is that, as Newman points out, crashes are generally replaced by booms. And that, critically, the resurgent economies will not be about “propping up of the old systems.”
After the 1890s Depression the new economy emerged around electricity, tramways and electric trains, not horses and wood.
After the 1930s Depression, came the transition to oil and motor vehicles.
This time, it will be around “renewable energy and distributed, small-scale water, energy and waste systems,” he says.
“Buildings and transport systems at the base of this city will be more and more efficient and more and more electric. It will be an intense green urbanism that I have called the Resilient City.”
(See https://www.abc.net.au/rn/ockhamsrazor/stories/2008/2445159.htm for an interview with Newman)
In property the potential is huge. Property is not only in the front line of climate change but it is the most visible and often the most valuable asset and resource we have in common.
In the broadest sense it’s our shared planet – a concept that generated our website’s name – after the other “estates” that represent centres of power: the first estate for the clergy, the second estate for the aristocracy, the third for the commoners and the fourth for the media.
The Fifth, we reckon is for the owners – or caretakers – of the planet.
There is enough brainpower, research, technology, equipment and most importantly the money and the business clout to do whatever we want.
What this website will do is to provide a hub to smooth the flow of information and news to move this along.
This is your website. A place to oil the wheels of change in the property industry and create a sustainable, intelligent, lucrative, new economy
Spinifex – The Forum
A special part of the site is Spinifex, named because it is about the “pointy” end of sustainability, a place where you, people working working hard on the new economy and the challenges of critical sustainable change can tell your stories, share your discoveries and agitate for change.
Spinifex is also named for the tough gritty nature of this mostly native Australian grass, valuable in holding the soil together and keeping erosion at bay.
We invite you to populate it, make it your own.
Negativity is a useful human emotion – connected to fear. That’s important right now, but pessimists are not known for progress.
It is optimists that drive advances, discoveries, new worlds and new economies.
If you are one, this is your time.
And a huge heartfelt thanks to our Foundation Sponsors for their faith and encouragement in this endeavour – Lincolne Scott, NABERS and Szencorp.