CHOICE membership

Consumer risks

I has been argued that Choice has no role beyond the here & now. Should the vision be broader? Does Choice have a place, representing future consumers?

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edit: oops, missed the actual category the evolved from that

https://choice.community/c/future-vision/86

and its intro

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Hi @Drop_Bear,
Thanks for raising these questions. We’re lucky to have collected a range of people who are passionate about CHOICE’s role on a number of important issues, past and upcoming. I note that you have referenced our previous discussions on climate change, and for clarity and to avoid duplication of effort and response we can direct any discussion to the existing thread. I know our Deputy Director of Campaigns has responded in the affirmative on that thread - yes we are working on a number of levels to address things like frequency of natural disasters and other issues that we feel consumers are likely to face.

We welcome any ideas or thinking on other upcoming issues or benefits as well, as mentioned above we’ve created and are creating new categories to provide framework for these discussions. An interesting one that comes to mind was space tourism, and right now we know there is a lot of discussion about consumer rights in relation to travel. Any ideas are welcome, for extended discussion we can split topics into the Future Consumer category.

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Thanks for that. I knew there had to be something more appropriate than “Ideas”. Category edited.

For the record, the risks identified in the Canberra Times article are:

  1. Decline of natural resources, especially water
    
  2. Collapse of ecosystems and mass extinctions
    
  3. Population growth and demand beyond the Earth's carrying capacity
    
  4. Global warming, sea-level rise and changes in the climate
    
  5. Pollution of all life by chemicals
    
  6. Famine
    
  7. Nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction
    
  8. Pandemics of new and untreatable disease
    
  9. Powerful, uncontrolled new technologies
    
  10. National and global failure to understand and act on these risks. 
    

For convenience, I’ve made it a numbered list.

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Lists tend to disguise the complexity of such problems and a numbered list invites simplistic prioritising. There are quite a few interdependencies between these issues. One striking link is that nearly all the others are exacerbated by excess population. There are not Four Horseman, there is only one with four faces and his name is too many people.

If you understand that #10 covers the prevalence of short term thinking and planning at the expense of future wellbeing (breaking the principle that this generation should not leave their descendants worse off) it becomes the root cause of all but #9 which is more on its own than the others.

All systems of government have to keep the current generation reasonably happy to survive. Too often this is until the next election or in the extreme case the next news cycle. Nominal democracies seem at a disadvantage in this regard.

So how do we get out of this bind where our desires for short term gratification encourage our leaders to do the wrong thing and the more that is practiced the harder it gets? I am assuming here that at least some leaders understand this core problem and can over time counteract the others, quite clearly some simple don’t get it and never will.

One possibility is education, get the population at large to understand the choice that they can have a fairly good life now and a better one for their children, or a better life now and a worse one for their children. This is a long plan and suffers from the same problem as its target; that you may not be in office long enough to make headway. The global performance so far on climate change does not fill me with hope. I think we are out of time for this solution.

All this is very relevant right now. We see how when faced with a clear and imminent threat you can persuade most people that short term sacrifice is the only way out. How do you convince them that the above list represents a clear and present danger and needs a similar urgent response?

I don’t see it all magically coming together and that major harm and disruption will be averted just in time. More likely we are going down a fair way first. Like the recent fire season or the pandemic, the harm of inaction will have to be palpable and personal before major change will happen and even then it is at risk of being forgotten as soon as the drought breaks or the death rate is no longer so horrid.

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Our fragile supply chains present numerous risks:

Which is probably why the Canberra Times list isn’t numbered. I gather it’s from this report (which I haven’t read because I loathe PDFs) from the Commission for the Human Future.

Sorry, that didn’t come out quite as I intended, I realise you were doing that for ease of reference not to prioritise.