Nelson's Column

Charlie Nelson's Blog

Charlie's blog contents page

Charlie's home page


Newspaper inadvertently shows how to connect sustainability dots

Page 12 of The Age newspaper of October 4 2010 speaks volumes about sustainability from the viewpoints of communities in Italy, the Victorian state government, and HSBC bank.  No doubt it was a pure fluke but the editor could not have done better if he or she tried.

There are two articles and two large advertisements on the page.

One article "Italian towns turn a profit with the wind at their back" describes how a renewable revolution is underway, with small towns cutting electricity bills and even making profits for civic works by generating electricity from the wind and the sun.

The larger of the two advertisement is a boast from the Victorian state government about their having a "$631 million blueprint to protect our regional and rural way of life, now and for future generations."  A list of initiatives does NOT mention a plan for households and farms to reduce costs and earn money from the abundant solar power.

The HSBC bank ad has the headline "0.3% of Saharan solar energy could power Europe" and has a picture of some presumably poor locals sheltering from the sun under an umbrella.  The ad does not say what HSBC is actually doing, if anything, to finance or encourage such a notion coming into being.

The second article reports that Thailand plans to return up to 2 million Burmese asylum seekers after elections in Burma.  Some of these are political refugees and others are economic refugees. 

Dictatorships in poor countries usually fail to provide a sustainable economy for their subjects.  Rich democracies, such as ours, perform much better on the economy but still have a long way to go to achieve sustainability in the broad sense of the word.


Charlie Nelson
October 2010