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Eye of the Storm: An Integral Perspective on Sustainable Development and Climate Change Response

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Posted By: iiadmin Views: 830
Date Added: Mon, Oct 02 2006
By: Chris Riedy

Keywords: integral sustainability, sustainable development, integral theory, Ken Wilber, futures studies, sustainable futures, Australia, energy policy, climate policy, climate change, behavioural development, social development, system development, psychological development, cultural development, integral methodological pluralism, greenhouse gas emissions, autopoiesis, social autopoiesis, energy subsidies, transport subsidies, Dryzek, causal layered analysis, developmental psychology, developmental levels, developmental lines, developmental stages, quadrants

In this thesis, I explore the implications of integral theory for sustainable development and climate change response. Integral theory seeks to integrate objective and subjective perspectives using a developmental orientation. It addresses issues of subjectivity that have received inadequate attention in mainstream approaches to sustainable development, while also providing theoretical grounding for the developmental aspect of sustainable development. According to integral theory, there are four main epistemological approaches to any problem: behavioural, systemic, psychological and cultural. The first is objective and individual, the second objective and collective, the third subjective and individual and the fourth subjective and collective. Development occurs within each of these realms. To test the value and implications of integral theory for sustainable development, I adopt a case study on climate change response in Australia. I begin the case study by using the four perspectives of integral theory to guide a review of the energy and climate change literature. I follow the literature review with a critical review of Australian energy and greenhouse policy, providing the starting point for development of an integral climate change response. While there is attention to subjectivity in the literature, it is not reflected in Australian policy practices. An objective perspective and an instrumental form of rationality dominate policy. In the literature review, I identify two gaps in the literature that deserve attention. The first is the role of public subsidies in creating the observed cost differential between renewable energy sources and fossil fuel energy. I examine the relative magnitude of subsidies to fossil fuels and renewable energy in the Australian energy and transport sectors and conclude that the distribution of these subsidies distorts the market in favour of fossil fuels, particularly in the transport sector. The second is the application of a developmental perspective to cultural theories of climate policy discourse. I introduce a method called meta-discourse analysis to identify consistencies and relationships across discourse descriptions by different authors and demonstrate that aspects of each discourse can be related developmentally. Drawing on the literature review, policy review and other work, I propose an integral policy response to climate change that could be applied in Australia. The policy response combines participatory integrated assessment, normative futures work, a modified version of the cooperative discourse model for public participation, an evolutionary policy orientation and several methods to promote subjective development. The proposed policy approach should be equally applicable to other sustainable development issues.  [Co-Director's note: This is the most comprehensive inquiry into Integral Sustainability to date. I cannot recommend a more clear and cogent document outlining the core of this work. The author addresses the following elements of Integral Theory: quadrants, eight native perspectives, developmental levels, developmental lines, and types. He also identifies a number of tools that are useful for any Integral Sustainability practitioner's toolkit. The link allows you to download it in three parts. Enjoy! - Barrett]
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BarrettBrown said:

This PhD thesis is absolutely amazing. Totally impressive; read it if you are serious about working with and learning about Integral Sustainability.
Fri, Mar 30 2007 6:53 PM
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