Australian Left Review

Article Title

Review - Seeds for Change: Creatively confronting the energy future


Hugh Saddler


SEEDS FOR CHANGE: Creatively con fron t in g the en e rg y future by Deborah White, Philip Sutton, Alan Pears, Chris Mardon, John Dick and Maurie Crow, Patchwork Press/Conservation Council of Victoria, 540 pp. Review by Hugh Saddler.

Most writing on energy policy can, unfortunately, be allocated to one of two categories. On the one hand are the smug “ leave it to us, the experts” pronouncements o f spokesmen (never women) o f the oil, coal, gas and electricity industries and associates in the public service and academia. We all know why this stuff is no good. Much of the remaining writing, while sharply critical of these establishment views, falls into the trap o f what m ight be termed energy fundamentalism. The arrangements society makes about energy are important, because energy is such an important determinant of the quality of individual life and of the way we relate to each other as individuals. But this does not make energy important,in political terms, in itself. The basic political issues are how to build a new society in which everyone is entitled to a just share in the material wealth of the society and can participate fully and equally in making decisions about their society. Energy fundamentalism makes the mistake of forgetting that these are the basic issues, and instead, in advocating all sorts of political, social and economic changes, gives the reduction of energy use as the sole or principal reason.