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The Governor of Victoria’s Speech

March 9, 2009

Below is a transcript of the speech given by The Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser, A.C., at the launch of Peter Ellyard’s new book “Designing 2050”, 20th February 2009.

“Designing 2050: Pathways to Sustainable Prosperity on Spaceship Earth”

Reverend Tim Costello
CEO, World Vision Australia
and Mrs Merri die Costello

Dr Peter Ellyard
Chairman, Preferred Futures Group
and
Author of “Designing 2050: Pathways to Sustainable Prosperity on Spaceship Earth”

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we stand, the Kulin Nations, and pay my respect to their elders past and present.

I am very pleased to be here this evening to launch Dr Ellyard’s most recent work “Designing 2050: Pathways to Sustainable Prosperity on Spaceship Earth”. When approached to launch a book, I automatically ask the question, why me? I guess having a Governor launch a book might serve to attract people to the launch and hence boost early sales. I hope that was not the only reason Peter. Before making a decision I always look at the title to see whether it attracts me and whether it is a topic of importance. Certainly, the title grabbed my attention as it address a fascinating concept of the earth being likened to a spaceship and further attracts the reader who may be interested in the whole topic of sustainable prosperity. Some might argue that the two are incompatible, namely sustainability and prosperity. By now, I am half way to a positive response to launch the book.
I then make the final judgement as to whether the author can be considered as an authority on the subject and here I was completely sold on taking on the task. Peter Ellyard is highly qualified to address this topic having been actively involved in matters environmental and planning and the Executive Director of the Australian Commission for the Future together with more recent activities with the Preferred Futures Group, which aims to promote long term strategic thinking in defining the future direction of our country and our community.
What better qualifications when combined with a scientific background in the field of biochemistry.

This is indeed a book for this time in the world’s history for we face the challenges of rampant consumerism with little thought for the future; the want it now and can’t wait culture. We are challenged by the issue of climate change and global warming that cannot be answered by our own personal actions, nor the actions of our local community, nor the actions of a nation but only by a global response. The sceptics will roll their eyes and produce arguments about the data supporting the reality of climate change. So before I further explore Peter Ellyard’s book, let me just remind you of a few facts to set the scene.

Here are a few thoughts:
 All of us seek better health and longer life and medical science is enabling this to happen.
 The population of the world is predicted to rise from 6 billion today to 9 billion by 2050.
 Pollution from transport, powerhouses and industry today kills a million people annually and is responsible for the ill health of millions more. A recent report indicated that the average life expectancy of a traffic policeman in Beijing is 42 years
 Daily we read about environmental degradation of water supplies and the land in many countries and also of emerging global food shortages.
 We have already passed the peak of oil availability and need to conserve oil as a fuel for functions where there is no other alternative
 The developing nations such as India, China and Indonesia require a 5 fold increase in energy expenditure per head of population for each of their citizens to reach a standard of living comparable to ours especially if they uncritically accept our consumer driven lifestyle. Such a lifestyle is easily visible by those from the developing world due the extraordinary development of instantaneous visualisation of all we do through the communication revolution through which we are living.
These are the forces that are driving the need for global equity. Global equity to me means that by 2050, all the people in the world should have been given the opportunity to reach the same level of life style as in developed countries. However, if that were to occur, my conclusion is that we will leave a very degraded planet unless we each develop a more sustainable lifestyle, using energy from renewable sources, so that our environmental footprint is considerably smaller. Note, in the last few minutes I have not used the words climate change or global warming, both matters that augment the urgency of addressing all of the issues that I mentioned
We require global solutions not only this issue but also to the most recent economic crisis, a crisis that provides a wonderful example that the nations of the world are now inexorably linked to each other.
The early chapters in Ellyard’s book trace the progress towards globalisation, a journey that is by no means complete and yet one that we will need if we are to achieve the outcomes necessary for the survival of our planet. In discussing progress towards globalisation and the forces that oppose it, the book takes the reader through the past history of the world as we move from a tribal culture to one of nationhood and global networks or organisations such as the European Union. Ellyard builds the case for continued progress to a global economy assisting the reader to appreciate the benefits of a global society. He states “ Globalisation can provide a route for the development of a sustainable and prosperous planetary society in the next generation, provided that globalisation itself becomes more civilised than it is right now” He challenges us to “develop visions, strategies, design and innovation, not just for surviving but for thriving in this new globalising society.” To drive home this message Ellyard builds the case that the earth should be considered as our “spaceship” to convince the reader that we exist in space on a relatively small fragile planet whose atmosphere, resources and environment is critical to our survival. The views from the space of this earth help to get the message that we are in a fragile state and remind us that to date no other planet provides the conditions that would enable the earth’s biodiversity to survive.
These early chapters define the terminology that is used throughout the book which requires us to grasp the concept of planetism and the need for a cosmonaut culture and he compares and contrasts this to the modernist philosophy and cowboy culture of the 1960s.

I cannot do justice to a book of 507 pages divided into 13 chapters in 15-20 minutes. Ellyard builds very cogent arguments for the need to change and to build a vision for the society we have to have by 2050, if we are not only survive but to thrive on spaceship earth into the future. He does more than that in this book. He sets out the tools to enable each of us to contribute to the change required to achieve a sustainable environment with a population that fits comfortably on spaceship earth.
A critical requirement is for visionary leaders not managers as we travel through unchartered waters to create the required sustainable economy and environment. The book assists the reader in defining the differences between leaders and managers but it can be summed up in a quotation of George Bernard Shaw that is used in this book which states ‘Some people see things as they are and ask why? I see things as they could be and ask why not?
The book explores other needs that are required to achieve this transformation such as the process of learning and the quality and design of a curriculum that assists us to learn for life. He emphasizes the need for innovation and design, for civilising globalisation and the pathways to sustainability and prosperity, inclusive of ecological prosperity, social prosperity and cultural prosperity.

The Preferred Futures website asks us to consider “What will be the future if we do not change direction or make a new choice about the future?” This question asks us to consider the direct impacts of our action – or inaction –on our future.

There are many issues that have developed over the course of the last few decades, which, if we consider them in the light of the future we are creating for the next generation, should shape our community and the way we live for many years to come.

Perhaps the greatest of two of these that face us now is the continuing issue of climate change and a sustainable future and the economic crisis that has engulfed us over the past 12 months. History tells us that past economic crises are time limited albeit with considerable hardship over those years. However in an evolutionary time scale such events would be barely detectable. Yet, both issues challenge us to make choices as to how we act over the next few years and force us to put values to all that we do.
What is really important to us? If economic stimulation is required, how should we spend our money? Should it prop up rampant consumerism that takes no note of the reality that we live on a planet with finite resources? Or should it be spent on building a sustainable lifestyle that emphasizes the values of a society that cares for this planet, that cares for and values its biodiversity, that creates a framework where citizens respect each other, where children and adolescents are nurtured, mentored and cared for and in return who respect the older generations for their wisdom and contributions?
These are vitally important questions at this juncture that we all must consider not just for ourselves, but for the global community? How can we alter the course that has evolved over the last 40-50 years? This book gives us the tools to be able to analyse what we do and to change course. Of course changing human behaviour is not an easy task but one that is critical if we are to move in the right direction.

The Preferred Futures website suggests that “people only change their behaviour because of two feelings: fear and hope… If a probable future scenario indicates that potential crisis or disaster is ahead it will generate fear-which becomes the catalyst of change.”

The issues of climate change certainly provide us with enough fodder for fear, and there is plenty of scientific evidence to justify that fear in the face of the uncertain future of our planet.

Clear communication and consistent messages are critical and here, coordinated planning and action across different sectors of our economy and life style is required for maximum effectiveness.

To me, community education is critical to enable the stage to be set for government action to legislate to change people’s life-styles, otherwise, with short electoral time-frames, governments are reluctant to enact unpopular legislation. Unlike war-time approaches where people have tangible evidence of life-threatening issues, climate change is insidious and slow to demonstrate its effects.

The community needs to know that there is hope for the future, that climate change isn’t a lost cause, and that there are things we can do now to halt and, eventually, reverse the impacts of climate change.

What does this mean at the personal level? There is only one conclusion in the short term. We must change our behaviour and aspirations as our lifestyles are unsustainable. In Designing 2050, Dr Ellyard describes a sustainable society as “…one where all forms of behaviour – production, consumption, development and lifestyles – are sustainable”. And while industry must lead by example, and alter the way in which goods are produced and developed, we are all able to alter our consumption and our lifestyles immediately to ensure that our day to day lives are as sustainable as possible. We must cut energy usage to buy time to change our infrastructure and to allow research and development to provide new solutions. Every molecule of carbon dioxide released today sits in the atmosphere for about 100 years.
Designing 2050 provides an important contribution to the debate about our future, and outlines a way in which we can be “future makers” – a way in which we can control the destiny of our planet and of future generations through our actions and behaviour, rather than remaining on our current course, content to blame those who have gone before us for the issues we today must face.

Dr Ellyard asks us to take risks, rather than accepting the future as a destiny we do not have the power to influence. You may not agree with all that he says but he will stimulate you to think about the issues.

Ellyard does not give you all the answers. He hints at them but provides you with the important tools to answer the questions. He will help you to commence the journey to a sustainable future, a journey that will not be short, a journey that will not be easy, a journey that will require behavioural and structural change but a journey that we have to take for the future generations.
A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson sums up the journey “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave behind a trail”

Dr Ellyard’s work has given us the opportunity of considering for ourselves what our future may hold – and the ways in which we all hold the power to alter that future. I congratulate him on this important contribution. It is now with great pleasure that I officially launch “Designing 2050: Pathways to Sustainable Prosperity on Spaceship Earth”.

Thank you.

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