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Analysis and Comment (86)

Australian resources are fueling Asia’s development, but the next challenge is to make that sustainable. Australian resources are fueling Asia’s development, but the next challenge is to make that sustainable. EPA/Bagus Indahono

Can ASEAN become the global champion of sustainable growth?

If measured by political will and rhetoric, Australia’s relationship with Southeast Asia would undeniably be in fine shape. Prime ministers as diverse as Paul Keating, Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard have…
Studying one subject won’t help save the world. Studying one subject won’t help save the world. Shutterstock

Multi-discipline courses will help solve emerging global problems

Across the globe, we are experiencing rapid changes to our environment and social structures. Climate change, population growth, and social unrest are causing ever increasing problems. The rate of change…
The Sustainable Development Goals will aim to tackle pollution as well as poverty. The Sustainable Development Goals will aim to tackle pollution as well as poverty. Alex Proimos/Wikimedia Commons

Will 2015 be the year the world agrees how to live sustainably?

Next year will be critical in environmental diplomacy. World governments will be negotiating important global agreements in two areas that will have a major impact on our well-being in coming decades…
Electric cars have still not won over the public, and not just because some look like this. Electric cars have still not won over the public, and not just because some look like this. wbaiv

Electric cars won’t really take off until costs come down (or petrol goes up)

The electric car trend is still to take off in the UK, with drivers largely put off by up-front costs, according to a survey by the Department for Transport. A measly 5% of respondents were thinking about…
A new benchmark to measure the economic response to climate change. A new benchmark to measure the economic response to climate change. Mario Sánchez Prada

Bringing the long game into climate change economics

The UK government’s senior adviser on science has made an entirely sensible call for researchers and policy makers to move the climate change debate towards workable strategies and solutions. The trouble…
Not all that which is greening is green. Not all that which is greening is green. André Künzelmann/UFZ

The ‘greening’ of Europe’s farms has been a failure

The European policies designed to encourage a more biodiverse environment that is better able to support wildlife and plants are failing. In fact, our analysis of the reforms designed to “green” the EU…
What goes around: repair cafés aim to embrace the so-called ‘circular economy’ of making stuff last longer. What goes around: repair cafés aim to embrace the so-called ‘circular economy’ of making stuff last longer. Jade Herriman

‘Repair cafés’ are about fixing things – including the economy

Imagine your smartphone’s screen gets smashed, or your bike wheel gets buckled, or your favourite boots get a hole in them. What do you do? You could buy a replacement. Or you could join the worldwide…
You’re better off catching the bus than the train of you want to reduce your energy footprint. You’re better off catching the bus than the train of you want to reduce your energy footprint. John Ward/Flickr

Which transport is the fairest of them all?

How did you get to where you need to be today? Car, bike, public transport, or perhaps walking? Transport is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, globally and in Australia. The latest…
Our cities are growing; we must rise to the challenge. Our cities are growing; we must rise to the challenge. Erwin Soo

Ten themes that will help build cities designed for people

Ten themes shape the dilemmas, challenges and opportunities for the 21st-century city. Each relates to how we live and shape our places. The tradition of urban living, of urbanity, focuses both on the…
Self-interest and greed drive the decision-making of too many of the professional classes who most influential global policies. Self-interest and greed drive the decision-making of too many of the professional classes who most influential global policies. www.shutterstock.com

Want ethical responses to a world of trouble? Focus on character

We read a lot these days about corruption, self-interest and personal tragedies. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the first time explicitly considers climate change…
Six-star green projects like Melbourne’s Pixel Building are largely confined to Australia’s city centres. Six-star green projects like Melbourne’s Pixel Building are largely confined to Australia’s city centres. Supplied

Green building revolution? Only in high-end new CBD offices

Australia is allegedly in the midst of a “green building revolution”, powered by the awarding of ratings to developers who build sustainable buildings. But this brave new world is only a reality in the…
A protester makes her feelings clear about the pink batts scheme in 2010. A protester makes her feelings clear about the pink batts scheme in 2010. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Pink batts: what did it teach us about building better buildings?

The political fallout over the ill-fated Home Insulation Program continues, with former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard now having been summoned to appear before the Abbott government’s royal…
Heatwaves provide a good reminder we need to think more carefully about how we use energy. Heatwaves provide a good reminder we need to think more carefully about how we use energy. Wiz78/Flickr

Power prices, energy supply and the sustainability era

When it comes to expectations for power price rises in the year ahead, the short answer is on average we can expect them to be less severe in 2014 than in recent years. The long answer, driven by electricity…
New mothers make a lot of decisions to improve their babies' welfare. New mothers make a lot of decisions to improve their babies' welfare. Megan Myers

Does becoming a mother make women ‘greener’?

Stop press! Actress Julia Roberts has been spotted in a Prius and is reportedly into reusable coffee cups and solar panels. According to media reports, it was the birth of her twins, rather than her Oscar-winning…
I’m just a sprayer, the pest manager does the thinking. I’m just a sprayer, the pest manager does the thinking. ricephotos

Pest management – it isn’t just about the killing

To most people pest management brings up images of rats, cockroaches and chemical spraying. Poisoning vermin and insect is only one minor, albeit important, aspect of pest management. Few people know about…
Research shows the environment usually comes off second best when companies are forced to compromise between sustainability and profit. Research shows the environment usually comes off second best when companies are forced to compromise between sustainability and profit. Mohammad Rhaman/Flickr

In the corporate fight club, the environment usually loses

A commitment to sustainability has become a typical component of any modern-day corporation’s public face. Visit the homepages of major organisations in any sector, from coal-mining to cola-making, and…
Companies are getting better at disclosing possible environmental and social issues that might cause profits to slip, but there is more they could do. Companies are getting better at disclosing possible environmental and social issues that might cause profits to slip, but there is more they could do. Flickr/Ian Barbour

Mixed result on sustainability reporting, but ASX proposes greater disclosure

Investors are increasingly interested in how companies manage non-financial – environmental and social – risks. And there is still substantial room for improvement. The recent Sustainability Reporting…
Recent reports reveal that the cost of environmental damage far outweighs the cost of business model restructuring. Recent reports reveal that the cost of environmental damage far outweighs the cost of business model restructuring. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Dollar signs of the times: how our politicians are costing the Earth

One of the most depressing and puzzling features of the current election campaign is the lack of emphasis on the costs that environmental risks pose to industry and business. Australian politicians appear…
The ‘most liveable city’ accolade should be viewed with scepticism. The ‘most liveable city’ accolade should be viewed with scepticism. Image from shutterstock.com

Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city? Not exactly

For the third year in a row, Melbourne has been named as the world’s most liveable city by the The Economist Intelligence Unit Survey. From the Lord Mayor to Molly Meldrum, it seems that almost everybody…
Some cardboard trees made by Hugo Boss and painted by children, because: sustainability! Some cardboard trees made by Hugo Boss and painted by children, because: sustainability! Geoff Caddick/PA

It’s time to ban the empty word ‘sustainability’

While the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that became all the rage some time ago initially had worthwhile aims, it is now more commonly used by corporations to out-worthy their competitors…
Our brains predispose us to a quick fix, but with the right leadership we could choose a path to different future. Our brains predispose us to a quick fix, but with the right leadership we could choose a path to different future. Scott Ogilive

Wanted: political leader with a vision for a sustainable future

A sustainable future remains within our grasp but - thanks to the way human brains work - only governments can implement many of the necessary strategies. Our political leaders have a unique responsibility…
Where are Australia’s politicians leading us? Where are Australia’s politicians leading us? Paleontour/Flickr

A more sustainable Australia: are we ignoring the future?

A more sustainable Australia. As we hit the half-way mark of the 2013 election campaign, we asked academics to look at some of the long-term issues affecting Australia - the issues that will shape our…
The health of our rural landscapes depends on supportive policies and hard work by caring Australians, such as here on David Marsh’s property near Boorowa, NSW. The health of our rural landscapes depends on supportive policies and hard work by caring Australians, such as here on David Marsh’s property near Boorowa, NSW. Andrew Campbell

Election 2013 Issues: Looking after Australia

Welcome to the The Conversation Election 2013 State of the Nation essays. These articles by leading experts in their field provide an in-depth look at the key policy challenges affecting Australia as the…
How many food miles in a ham sandwich? How many food miles in a ham sandwich? Kolya

School food plan helps waistlines, hinders the planet

The School Food Plan for England released last week is supposed to be the blueprint that improves lunches in schools across the country. The important role of head teachers, a funding commitment from the…
Drink containers are a threat to sea birds and marine life. And they’re ugly. Drink containers are a threat to sea birds and marine life. And they’re ugly. Flickr/Cleaner Croydon

Container deposit laws: cleaner, more sustainable

We have a major problem with beverage containers in Australia. Between 7-8 billion are land-filled or littered every year. Nationally, less than half are recycled, and drink containers continue to pollute…
Plants located in your home or office are beneficial to your health in more ways than you might think. Plants located in your home or office are beneficial to your health in more ways than you might think. Miss Monk

Clearing the air: the hidden wonders of indoor plants

It may come as a surprise but air pollution levels indoors are almost always higher than outside, even in busy city centres. Even more surprising is that indoor plants have the ability to mitigate high…
Artificial photosynthesis may lead to a world that no longer bludges off the environment and accords nature its own rights. Artificial photosynthesis may lead to a world that no longer bludges off the environment and accords nature its own rights. Shutterstock

Artificial photosynthesis could extend rights to nature

Should ecosystems have legally enforceable rights? It might sound like a ridiculous idea, but a global debate on this is in full swing. The Constitution of Ecuador now recognises rights of nature. Environmental…
“Burgerisation” has made waste as common in the food system as take-away wrappers on streets. “Burgerisation” has made waste as common in the food system as take-away wrappers on streets. Niall Carson/PA

Food waste is the symptom, not the problem

Foundation essay: This article on food waste by Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University London, is part of a series marking the launch of The Conversation in the UK. Our foundation essays…
Children don’t have the right to vote - but maybe they should. Children don’t have the right to vote - but maybe they should. www.shutterstock.com

Do future Australians deserve a vote now?

People tend to prefer present gratification to conserving resources for the future. This tendency is made worse by election cycles that encourage politicians to concentrate on policies that will get them…
We have the technology to decarbonise: now we need the will. We have the technology to decarbonise: now we need the will. Luke Westall

Looking back from 2030: how the climate war was won

Minimising serious debate about climate change risks and solutions looks likely to be a key feature of the Australian media’s approach to the 2013 election campaign. There are however two powerful reasons…
Boards will need to be ‘six-capital literate’ in order to assess performance, identify risks and develop strategy. Boards will need to be ‘six-capital literate’ in order to assess performance, identify risks and develop strategy. Shutterstock

Integrated reporting to walk more than the bottom line

Paul Druckman, the CEO of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), recently led the coalition’s global charge on corporate reporting changes to Australia, where he bolstered support and talked…
Civilians rescue an injured worker after the eight-storey Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on April 24. Civilians rescue an injured worker after the eight-storey Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on April 24. AAP

Mind the gap: company disclosure discrepancies not sustainable

The recent decision by two Australian retailers to sign an accord protecting suppliers in Bangladesh has highlighted discrepancies in company disclosure of sustainability issues and the need for clearer…
Sustainable living: it’s more difficult than just hugging trees. Sustainable living: it’s more difficult than just hugging trees. William Conran/PA

Recession could be the right time to help us change for the better

In the financial crisis and long global recession, millions have been forced to change their lifestyles to get by. When jobs, homes or businesses have been lost, many have had to change habits, hobbies…
Social conventions stemming from the marketing of washing product companies means we wash our clothes more than we need to. Social conventions stemming from the marketing of washing product companies means we wash our clothes more than we need to. Jackson Boyle

The dirt on clothes: why washing less is more sustainable

If you’re worried about dressing ethically, chances are you think about sweatshop conditions in developing countries, unsustainable farming practices, convoluted global supply chains that ring up a huge…
The world is definitely a mess, but women aren’t the ones to blame. The world is definitely a mess, but women aren’t the ones to blame. AAP Image

We are destroying the joint

Without really knowing what he was saying, Alan Jones was right – we are “destroying the joint”. Any dispassionate assessment of the state of “the joint”, both the corner we occupy and the planet as a…
It’s not easy being green (though it is easy to talk about it). It’s not easy being green (though it is easy to talk about it). Anthony Agius

Green hypocrites? Behaviour change in a consumerist society

Many Australians are happy to declare their interest in sustainability, to reducing their environmental impact. But how many of them are prepared to reduce the amount they actually consume? We recently…
The Business Council of Australia’s call for long-term thinking is moving in the right direction, but wants both expensive spending programs and lower taxes. The Business Council of Australia’s call for long-term thinking is moving in the right direction, but wants both expensive spending programs and lower taxes.

Business lobby yearns for a long-term view, but offers a contradictory wish list

There is much to consider when thinking about our future as a nation. We are a small, resource-rich, open economy facing a volatile global environment. We are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate…
China’s fast-track urbanisation doesn’t have to be unsustainable. China’s fast-track urbanisation doesn’t have to be unsustainable. Flickr/dcmaster

China’s cities get eco-smart, what can Australia learn?

China is urbanising faster than any other country in history. It now has 120 cities with over one million people and 36 cities with over two million. By 2030 there will be one billion people living in…
We have plenty of resources that could stop us falling off the edge. We have plenty of resources that could stop us falling off the edge. Chris Philavanh

Can we resolve the ‘peak everything’ problem?

With world population exceeding seven billion, there is renewed interest in the limits to growth concept first articulated by the Club of Rome in the 1970s. How can a growing population with growing affluence…
Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Candle in the dark image from www.shutterstock.com/Ronen

Save now, pay later: the hidden costs of lower electricity bills

No lights, no power, no internet - and no easy solutions. Fumbling around in a middle of a blackout, hoping to find a torch or some spare batteries, I was struck by just how utterly dependent most of us…
We won’t have sustainable fishing until we stop demanding so much seafood. We won’t have sustainable fishing until we stop demanding so much seafood. George Hatcher

Seafood sustainability not a sustainable reality

In 1883, the eminent English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley made his now infamous proclamation on the infinite bounty of the sea: Probably all the great sea fisheries are inexhaustible; that is to say…
Humans understand complicated ideas better when they’re told as stories. Humans understand complicated ideas better when they’re told as stories. Marie Still

Stories help us think about a sustainable future

Many commentators have had a go at forecasting what Australia might be like in the future. Such exercises are valuable inputs to our thinking as individual, organisational or societal decision-makers…
Mismatches are messing with the future of interdisciplinary research. Mismatches are messing with the future of interdisciplinary research. matthewreid

Global sustainability: universities need a diet of apples and oranges

Water, food and energy issues are increasingly recognised as key global challenges for the 21st century. Each requires and attracts substantial research attention, and tackling them inevitably requires…
Festival-goers enjoy Peats Ridge Sustainable Music and Arts Festival: the festival sector has become more proactive about sustainability. Festival-goers enjoy Peats Ridge Sustainable Music and Arts Festival: the festival sector has become more proactive about sustainability. island home/Flickr

Festivals and the environmental sustainability challenge

Festivals are fun activities - we go to meet up with friends and family, escape the hum drum of daily life, and to be exposed to new cultural forms or simply to be entertained. Rarely do we consider the…
It is technically possible to supply your own food, energy and shelter, without reliance on the grid. It is technically possible to supply your own food, energy and shelter, without reliance on the grid. Moosicom/Flickr

Living off-the-grid is possible, but it’s not enough to fix climate change

My old house has never been connected to the electricity supply. It runs on a couple of photo voltaic (solar) panels and is warmed by firewood. All water used is rainwater. I have a vegie garden, fruit…
The way disaster relief is offered to small businesses and primary producers following natural disasters is cumbersome and inefficient and needs a national approach. The way disaster relief is offered to small businesses and primary producers following natural disasters is cumbersome and inefficient and needs a national approach.

We need a national approach to small business disaster relief

When the embers have cooled or the floods have passed, who’s looking after the sustainability of small business in regional Australia? This year’s extreme heat and dry weather have again ensured Australia’s…
Almost 1.3 million people die each year on the world’s roads, making road accidents the ninth leading cause of death globally. Almost 1.3 million people die each year on the world’s roads, making road accidents the ninth leading cause of death globally. AAP/Joe Castro

Is modern transport making war on the human body?

We demand and expect our transport systems to to get us where we want, when we want to be there, and as fast as possible. We are, however, human beings with human bodies. And as with any other built system…
Should you eat this? The new snapshot of Australian fish stocks is unlikely to help you decide. Should you eat this? The new snapshot of Australian fish stocks is unlikely to help you decide. avlxyz/flickr

Do assessments of fish stock sustainability work for consumers?

The report, Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks 2012 is the first official report combining assessments of major Commonwealth and state-managed fisheries into one document. The report paints a rosy picture…
Australia must resolve numerous social, economic and environmental obstacles if it wants to reap the benefits of the Asian Century. Australia must resolve numerous social, economic and environmental obstacles if it wants to reap the benefits of the Asian Century. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Charting a sustainable future will be fraught with challenges in the Asian Century

Governments are forever immersed in the daily challenge of responding to what the former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan once knowingly described as “events.” It was he who coined the resounding…
Are any of these fish sustainable? A seafood guide might help you figure it out, but it might not… Are any of these fish sustainable? A seafood guide might help you figure it out, but it might not… Diarmuid Fisherman/Flickr

Conflicting sustainable seafood guides confuse consumers

Whether at the supermarket or the local fisho, most people find it difficult to know what seafood is sustainable. To help consumers make more informed choices, conservation organisations have been busy…
Our brains haven’t evolved to consider the long-term consequences of behaviour that brings short-term rewards. Our brains haven’t evolved to consider the long-term consequences of behaviour that brings short-term rewards. Patrick van IJzendoorn

Don’t trust your Stone Age brain: it’s unsustainable

Cognitive dissonance is that uncomfortable feeling we have when we know we should invest in solar panels but the 46″ wide screen TV wins out; we know we should catch the bus but we take the car anyway…
When it comes to accounting for the carbon tax, accountants need to embrace a transdisciplinary approach. When it comes to accounting for the carbon tax, accountants need to embrace a transdisciplinary approach. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Thinking outside the square: accountants have a role to play in a sustainable future

Can business and accountants guide us on the path to sustainability? Will business and accounting leaders of the future have the necessary skills to solve complex sustainability problems? How can new pathways…
While Australia fears either an environment or economic doomsday, other countries get on with making a cleaner future. While Australia fears either an environment or economic doomsday, other countries get on with making a cleaner future. Detail of Hieronymus Bosch's The Last Judgment, from Flickr/profzucker

Apocalypse Not: doomsday thinkers of Oz should get out more

I sometimes wonder what planet this country of ours is on. The environmental debate we are having seems to be in a parallel universe to the rest of the world. Having spent the last four years running one…
Australia’s unique manufacturing DNA - comprised of tens of thousands of small-to-medium enterprises - means that we must forge our own path to innovation. Australia’s unique manufacturing DNA - comprised of tens of thousands of small-to-medium enterprises - means that we must forge our own path to innovation. DNA Art Online

Finding a unique path for Australia’s manufacturing future

As the manufacturing landscape shifts in response to new economic and social pressures, Australia is looking for an answer to the question: What does the future look like for Australian manufacturing…
No simple matter: logging and conservation are not polar opposites, and controlled harvesting can fund the protection of forests. No simple matter: logging and conservation are not polar opposites, and controlled harvesting can fund the protection of forests. AAP/Greenpeace/Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Can forest conservation and logging be reconciled?

Is there a role for logging in ensuring the future of the world’s tropical forests and their rich diversity of plants and animals? For many this idea is absurd, because timber production achieving conservation…
The jury is still out over the environmental impacts of eReaders versus paper books. The jury is still out over the environmental impacts of eReaders versus paper books. Julie Falk

Weighing the environmental costs: buy an eReader, or a shelf of books?

Bookshelves towering floor to ceiling filled with weighty tomes, or one book-sized device holding hundreds of “books” in electronic form: which one of these options for the voracious reader creates the…
Double the normal number of overseas visitors will hit Heathrow this year. Double the normal number of overseas visitors will hit Heathrow this year. Department for Culture, Media & Sport

London 2012: locally green, but what about globally?

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are just around the corner, and promise to be a great global spectacle. At the same time, the organising committee are promising the most sustainable Olympics…
Green innovation: the upper compression ring of the Olympic Stadium main roof truss is made from 2,600 tonnes of surplus gas pipes. Green innovation: the upper compression ring of the Olympic Stadium main roof truss is made from 2,600 tonnes of surplus gas pipes. London 2012

Has the London Olympics really gone green, and what can the Gold Coast Games gain?

For seven years, the London Olympics Organising Committee has been striving to live up to the sustainability vision it set itself. It’s been a long, honest fight. On the eve of the Games, how well have…
More pressing matters: people can be “concerned' about many things, but what really matters to them are problems close to daily life. More pressing matters: people can be “concerned' about many things, but what really matters to them are problems close to daily life. AAP/April Fonti

What we really care about, and how to lift sustainability’s real appeal

New polls frequently announce that a significant proportion of the population is concerned about an issue or willing to sacrifice for a cause, from environmental sustainability to Third World debt. These…
Obesity can be seen as a carbon store on our waistlines originally sourced from coal mines and oil wells. Obesity can be seen as a carbon store on our waistlines originally sourced from coal mines and oil wells. Bobcatnorth/Flickr

Putting health at the heart of sustainability policy

OBESE NATION: It’s time to admit it - Australia is becoming an obese nation. This series looks at how this has happened and more importantly, what we can do to stop the obesity epidemic. Today Anthony…
To solve sustainability problems, governments need to know what the people are thinking. Elections aren’t quick enough. To solve sustainability problems, governments need to know what the people are thinking. Elections aren’t quick enough. John Ager

Sustainability demands public wisdom

Australia is currently unsustainable in many respects. Change is coming. Will that change be wisely managed? Or will it be forced upon us in potentially catastrophic ways? Wise management will require…
Giant fish made with plastic bottles emerge from the sands of Rio during the sustainability conference. Giant fish made with plastic bottles emerge from the sands of Rio during the sustainability conference. AAP/EPA/Antonio Lacerda

Rio+20: Another step on the journey towards sustainability

On the wall along the massive entrance hall to the Rio+20 Sustainable Development conference venue, there was a painting of an African landscape with the simple words “Keep the oil in the soil and the…
Liquid politics: fights over water will heat up unless its management is democratised. Liquid politics: fights over water will heat up unless its management is democratised. Flickr/Kyle Horner

Challenge 2: Water; a local resource, a global problem

Welcome to the State of the Future series. This series addresses 15 global challenges posed by the Millennium Project, an international non-profit think-tank collecting responses for 40 nodes worldwide…
Darkness visible: we’re driving animals to extinction, burning through resources, and throwing out natural balances, yet consumption still reigns. Darkness visible: we’re driving animals to extinction, burning through resources, and throwing out natural balances, yet consumption still reigns. Flickr/NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

State of the future: challenge one; sustainable development and climate change

State of the Future 2012, a quick introduction What is the “state of the future”? How successfully are we tackling global challenges threatening our collective future? These questions are asked annually…
Serious, interconnected risks are closing in on the globalised community, from climate change to anarchy. Are we heeding the warnings? Serious, interconnected risks are closing in on the globalised community, from climate change to anarchy. Are we heeding the warnings? AAP/EPA/Daniel Deme

Highway to dystopia: time to wise up to the looming risks

In that world of peripheral vision, essential for business, social and political leaders, it is surprising that the World Economic Forum’s report, Global Risks 2012 has not received greater publicity or…
Stuck in Botany Bay: Greenpeace activists celebrate the Danish government’s decision to halt Orica’s plans to ship toxic waste to Denmark. Stuck in Botany Bay: Greenpeace activists celebrate the Danish government’s decision to halt Orica’s plans to ship toxic waste to Denmark. AAP

Beyond the bottom line: how to reward executives for sustainable practice

Are sustainability-dependent executive bonuses the answer to saving the planet? Research recently conducted by the Centre for Corporate Governance at the University of Technology, Sydney, examined whether…
Perpetually seduced by the coolest, most “efficient” conveniences, we prefer not to see the heat and waste we leave in our wake. Perpetually seduced by the coolest, most “efficient” conveniences, we prefer not to see the heat and waste we leave in our wake. AAP/EPA/STR

Our bloated cult of efficiency: doing the wrong thing right

The idea that improving efficiency makes sustainability problems worse seems counter-intuitive. But what if aiming to do more with less is actually doing the wrong thing right? If sustainability is our…
How do we get beyond talking about sustainability to actually being sustainable? How do we get beyond talking about sustainability to actually being sustainable? Natural Step Online

Everyone loves sustainable development, but does anyone know what it is?

Everyone loves sustainable development. While we’re building and planning to improve our quality of life, why not balance and integrate the social, economic, and environmental issues? Hard to imagine that…
Difficult austerity: Bangladesh, where on average it takes 130 women to match the carbon footprint of one American woman. Difficult austerity: Bangladesh, where on average it takes 130 women to match the carbon footprint of one American woman. AAP/EPA/Mufty Fire

Population and environment: what we do in Woolies matters more than what we do in bed

In any discussion of the world’s environmental problems, someone will always argue that the core problem is that the world has too many people. Cliff Hooker has recently named it “the elephant in the room…
Take the offer: sharing cuts waste and builds communities but we have our reasons for not always being comfortable with it. Take the offer: sharing cuts waste and builds communities but we have our reasons for not always being comfortable with it. Flickr/Zervas

Sharing: if it’s so good, why don’t we do more of it?

Sharing is a good thing right? We are told it is good for the environment by cutting waste and needless consumption; we encourage it in our children for their moral growth; we see it used in advertising…
A simple step towards saving the environment may lead to more environment action … or not. A simple step towards saving the environment may lead to more environment action … or not. Department of Energy Solar Decathalon

Simple steps to save the environment may not make much difference

Many environmental organisations, governments and businesses rely on “positive spillover strategies” to drive pro-environmental behaviour change. These strategies rest on the assumption once someone has…
Questions of planetary power: a mere 0.3% of transnational corporations control 40% of global revenue. Questions of planetary power: a mere 0.3% of transnational corporations control 40% of global revenue. Flickr/paul (dex)

Planet under Pressure 2012: here’s the wrap

The Planet Under Pressure 2012 Conference was held in London a fortnight back and released the first State of the Planet Declaration. The conference aim was to set out the science (in a broad sense) in…
Fad fashion has never had it so good… but the fast fashion trend comes at a cost. Fad fashion has never had it so good… but the fast fashion trend comes at a cost. AAP

Counting the cost of fast fashion

There’s a polyester mullet skirt gracing a derrière near you. It’s short at the front, long at the back, and it’s also known as the hi-lo skirt. Like fads that preceded it, the mullet skirt has a short…
Will the UN recommendations pull people out of poverty and reduce pressure on the environment? Will the UN recommendations pull people out of poverty and reduce pressure on the environment? The Advocacy Project

UN sustainability panel says put a price on the environment

A recent cartoon (below) extrapolates the use of the word “sustainable”. It predicts that in 50 years each sentence will on average contain the word at least once. The cartoon is clever, and “sustainable…
It’s time we found a way to make our trucks greener. It’s time we found a way to make our trucks greener. gorbould

Could hydrogen fuel cell trucks drive our sustainable transport future?

Truck transport accounts for roughly 25% of energy used in the global transport sector, making it a substantial contributor (2.6%) to worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. As concerns about greenhouse gas…
Indigenous Australians systematically burnt grasslands to reduce fuel and stop fires raging out of control. Indigenous Australians systematically burnt grasslands to reduce fuel and stop fires raging out of control. Flickr/pietroizzo

The biggest estate on earth: how Aborigines made Australia

Aboriginal people worked hard to make plants and animals abundant, convenient and predictable. By distributing plants and associating them in mosaics, then using these to lure and locate animals, Aborigines…
Sir Rod Eddington: unless the rail networks are right, Australia’s cities won’t work properly. Sir Rod Eddington: unless the rail networks are right, Australia’s cities won’t work properly. Supplied

Sir Rod Eddington: ‘The infrastructure challenges are real’

Welcome to In Conversation; an ongoing series in which leading academics interview prominent public figures. In today’s instalment, Dr Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University, sits…
The world’s population is racing ahead compared to growth in the rest of the world. The world’s population is racing ahead compared to growth in the rest of the world. AAP/Dean Lewins

Sustaining 7 billion: Australia’s part in planning for population growth

SEVEN BILLION PEOPLE: As the global population passed the seven billion mark yesterday (give or take a few months – the data aren’t exact), Australia’s resident population will reach about 22.75 million…
Responses to climate change are becoming a crucial part of business strategy. Responses to climate change are becoming a crucial part of business strategy. AAP/Google

Google goes green … and others may follow

In early September, Google publicly disclosed details of its carbon footprint for the first time, launching the Google Green website in the process. The search giant revealed a carbon footprint of 1.5…
Developing sustainable energy sources needs some of the country’s best and brightest. Developing sustainable energy sources needs some of the country’s best and brightest. x-ray delta one

If I had a blank cheque I’d … develop hydrogen-based sustainable energy

Project: Develop hydrogen-based sustainable energyCost: $20 millionTimeframe: Seven years Finding real green energy is a vital area of research. Is there an energy that meets the needs of its users, and…
Melbourne and Sydney are set to become mega-cities, but there hasn’t been a coherent discussion about our population. Melbourne and Sydney are set to become mega-cities, but there hasn’t been a coherent discussion about our population. AAP/Torsten Blackwood

A country in search of a policy: the case for an Australian population target

The national debate about Australia’s population has been hijacked. It has been dominated by fears that we don’t have the infrastructure to cope with an influx of people, and differing views about migrants…

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