Welcome to The Rescope Project! The next phase of the Understandascope has begun. With a nod to our past, and an explicit agenda for catalysing change, we aim to invite and ignite more widespread regeneration of the systems and stories we live by, for life on Earth to flourish.
Our new website and broader online presence arenow live. And tickets are now on sale for our first major forum in 2017, featuring international best-selling author Satyajit Das.
Coming off a sold out auditorium at the Sydney Opera House for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in September, this globally recognised analyst and former financier will present on stage for the last time. It will be broadcast by the ABC, so we look forward to having many of you there to make the dialogue as rich as possible.
Then we’ll be back at the Sustainable Living Festival for two more high profile forums as part of the Regenerating Society Series. More on all that on the new website.
We couldn’t have come even this far without the generosity of so many people over a long period of time. As a not-for-profit organisation, The Rescope Project is extremely grateful for your ongoing support. We invite you and everyone you know to be involved in the Project, in any way you can.
Here’s to what we can do together in our next phase!
Beyond the Consumer Machine: A Narrative for the New Economy
Anthony James presented at an important and dynamic conference in Sydney in August, titled Building the New Economy. Many presentations will be uploaded to the conference website shortly. Anthony’s is a call to the obvious in many ways, yet what is still so often neglected. What is the purpose of the economy? If it’s about quality of life (what else?), then quantity of money, energy and material are only a few ingredients. What is it that we’re baking? And what are the optimal amounts of those ingredients we need?
“If I was a football coach devising a system to win a premiership, would my priority be for my team to simply get as many touches of the ball as possible? If I’m seeking to communicate better, would my priority be to use as many words as possible? Or if I was baking a cake, would it make sense to use as many ingredients as possible? Why, then, when it comes to trying to live a high quality life, or create a high quality economic system, would my priority be to seek as much money and material as possible?
“Yet this is the narrative of modern society, and therefore the economic system we employ to make it happen. That may have been all well and good, while the correlation between quality of life and material ‘standards’ of living appeared strong. But this correlation is weakening. A growing spate of titles such as ‘Affluenza’, ‘Stuffocation’ and ‘How Much is Enough?’ speak to the phenomenon. In the latter, Robert and Edward Skidelsky say this about the current system: ‘It has given us wealth beyond measure, but has taken away the chief benefit of wealth: the consciousness of having enough.’”
The impacts of flying & value of offsets – a personal journey
Ever wondered about the value of carbon offsets? Or why flying is apparently such a hot issue when it comes to climate change? Perhaps you’ve even wondered about the extent to which we need to reduce flying, if we’re to have any chance of avoiding dangerous climate change? What is our carbon budget? And how do we grapple with its implications?
Energy systems expert, Josh Floyd, has just published a 2 part series blending rigorous research with his personal journey exploring these questions. The result is a clear picture of the how and why we need to fly less.
“Even if the claimed emission reductions or carbon draw-down could be guaranteed for 100 years—and they categorically cannot—the idea that financing for environmental remediation and economic development initiatives should be bound up with high-emitting activities in the rich world is an absurdity. This is nothing more than a convenient (and here we need to ask: for whom?) device that diverts attention from the underlying drivers of climate change, while soothing the consciences of many decent people who are relieved from confronting the full implications of their lifestyles. From where I sit, it seems that the concept of emission offsetting is at best a naïve illusion, and at worst an outright hoax.”
Who stands up for better health care and sustainability? Nominations are now open for the 4th annual Frank Fisher Award presented by the invaluable cohealth community health service.
Understandascope founder, Frank Fisher, was a passionate advocate for personal, community and planetary health and wellbeing, with a particular emphasis on vulnerable people and people with a disability. He dedicated his life’s energy working to ensure that those who are vulnerable are heard, especially on the issues of health and wellbeing and their connection with sustainability.
If you or someone you know has stood up for a community health and sustainability issue or someone’s right to access better health care, nominate for this award.
For more info and to nominate yourself or someone else, click here.
The City as Commons brings together 34 contributions from around Australia and the world, exploring policy options and strategies for creating cities as commons.Anthony James & Josh Floyd each wrote a chapter for the book.
Anthony’s is entitled Active Transit & City Commons: Putting People Back into the City & the City Back into Place.
While Josh explores City Commons & Energy Demand.
The book is already drawing high praise as a vital and practical contribution to gearing urban development initiatives towards life sustaining pathways. As human populations further gravitate towards cities, this work only increases in importance.
Edited by Jose Ramos, with assistance from Emily Sims and cover by Scott Boylston. Published by the Commons Transition Coalition, Melbourne.
The City as Commons is freely downloadable under a Creative Commons Licence, by clicking here.
Pic: Challicum Hills wind farm, once the largest in Australia, initiated by Understandascope founder, the late Professor Frank Fisher (Source: The Conversation)
Ground breaking new research by the Understandascope’s advisor on energy, systems and societal futures, Josh Floyd, is covered in The Conversation today. Anthony James, of Swinburne University and Executive Director of the Understandascope, has co-authored the article with Josh.
“To have any chance of preventing dangerous climate change, the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero or even negative by mid-century. Many experts suggest this means we need to completely phase out fossil fuels and replace them with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
“Several studies have concluded that 100% renewable energy supply systems are technically and economically feasible. This informs the widespread view that fossil fuels can be more or less “swapped out” for renewables, without significant economic consequences.
“We are strongly sympathetic to the need for a rapid global shift away from fossil fuels. But new modelling conducted independently and made publicly available by my colleague at the Understandascope, Josh Floyd, suggests that such a transition may face significant challenges.”
This Might Change Everything: Finding shared meaning beyond consumerism
Last year was a pivotal one towards necessary change in the systems and stories underpinning human societies. A growing number of influential figures made substantial contributions to this end. Among these, the Pope’s Encyclical turned a significant tide with over a billion Catholics worldwide.
Robert Manne, twice voted Australia’s leading public intellectual, recognised the growing global movement towards cultural change. His archetypal nemesis in Australia’s political commentariat, The Australian’s Paul Kelly, saw things differently, at least on the surface. Their exchange was instructive, and features in the latest article by the Understandascope’s Anthony James, appearing in Earthsong Journal. Featuringillustration by Greg Foyster.
‘Naomi Klein’s latest book is called ‘This Changes Everything’ but it’s the Pope’s encyclical that just might.’
Also featuring in this edition of Earthsong is fellow director of the Understandascope, Keith Badger. This is the first time he has published the remarkable story of unintended transformation that he experienced in walking across the UK with his wife Debby.
‘I’m a city boy and never thought connection with country was in my veins. It certainly wasn’t in my mind growing up on a South London council estate. My life was more about congestion, concrete, cars, and nervous nightly returns home through the hubbub of humanity. Choosing accountancy as a profession took me even further into artifice, counting illusory riches rather than any reality of Mother Nature’s gifts. Suddenly I was in my late 50s, a family reared, a supposedly successful career achieved, a wife lost to cancer, another loving partnership established, and then it happened.’
Nominate yourself or someone else by Wednesday 23 March 2016
The Frank Fisher Award recognises individuals who have made a significant contribution to several areas of sustainability in the City of Yarra.
The Award aims to build on the legacy of the founding Director of the Understandascope, and Australia’s Inaugural Environmental Educator of the Year, the late Professor Frank Fisher. It also aims to remember Frank’s constant querying of his own views and understanding, and his efforts to respond kindly yet provocatively to understandings around him. Nominees will have engaged and inspired people around them and demonstrate qualities of mindfulness, insight, humility and civic spirit.
To nominate yourself or someone else, click here for more info.
Costa Georgiadis with film making family Isabella Doherty, Darren Doherty and Lisa Heenan, in conversation with Anthony James. Pic: Transitions Film Festival
One of the most popular films at last month’s Transitions Film Festival, premiering not once but twice, was followed by lively Q&A with these highly charismatic film makers, joined by special guest Costa Georgiadis and host Anthony James.
The film is an intricately told story of Joel Salatin, dubbed ‘The world’s most innovative farmer‘ by Time magazine, and his family. The family of Australian film-makers spent their life savings and 4 years documenting a style of farming that they hope will help change the fate of humanity.
For more info on the film including how to purchase a copy or host a screening, click here.
Sustainable Living Festival, Federation Square, Melbourne, 13 February 2016
Can economic growth save the planet? Has economic growth itself got a future? And what should we do about this precarious state of affairs?
The Understandascope’s major forum at the annual Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne drew a full house of around 250 people, to put these questions to 3 esteemed panellists.
Ian Dunlop, former fossil fuel industry executive, Jan Owen AM, CEO of Foundation for Young Australians, and Miriam Lyons, Senior Campaigner with GetUp!, join Anthony James from the Understandascope in this vital conversation.