The security implications of Climate, Energy and Economic transitions - What could possibly go wrong?

The rapid expansion and increasing complexity of our world can appear overwhelming. The ability of our body politic and the wider population to comprehend the behaviour of complex and interdependent systems is not readily apparent.

Our society is underpinned by an economic model that assumes continuous growth. However, economic growth will require increased energy consumption. Further growth in current methods of energy consumption will threaten the integrity of the environment on which our survival depends – this is an existential human and national security problem.

Humans usually break down complex systems into discrete parts in order to address problems. The implicit assumption is that if we address the parts of a problem, the overall integrated system will function effectively – this does not appear to work well in practice and results in significant systemic risks that are poorly analysed. The political debate in Australia addresses issues, rather than the challenges of transitions in systems such as Climate, Energy and the Economy, and does so largely in discrete parts with any proposals for action being opposed by narrowly-focussed interest groups. So, if we keep addressing these issues as we have to date, what could possibly go wrong? What could we do differently in order to achieve a different result? Does the “security” perspective and associated language need to be incorporated into the public discussion of these systemic risks to help shape a different debate?

John Blackburn will discuss the forthcoming study he will lead to explore these issues. He wishes to discuss a draft set of hypotheses and key questions the study will address with the audience, to seek advice and input to the study.

Air Vice-Marshal John Blackburn AO (RAAF Reserve) is a fellow of both the Institute For Regional Affairs and the Williams Foundation, and an Advisory Board Member of the Swiss-based Institute for Integrated Economic Research. He was previously a fighter pilot and test pilot, the Deputy Chief of the RAAF, the Commander of the FPDA multinational Headquarters in Malaysia and Singapore and the Head of Strategic Policy in Defence. His publications include Kokoda Foundation studies on the Cyber Challenge and Defence Logistics, Fuel Security studies published by the NRMA and the Williams Foundation’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence Study published in April 2017.

Please join us for a light lunch at 12pm before the public lecture