Wednesday, November 6, 2019

What we Need to Combat Environmental Degradation and Climate Change

The Earth's biodiversity is dying as the ecological web of life is breaking down. We have already witnessed significant decreases in the number of birds and insects including pollinators like bees and the future for these and many other species is bleak unless we rapidly change course.

We are facing the end of civilization. We must not allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense that we are doing anywhere near enough to address the crises we created. We are not living up to our Paris emissions reduction targets and we are rapidly running out of time to reign in climate change.

Our resistance to science-based climate policies makes it hard to claim any sort of intellectual progress.Before we can address these problems we have to accept the fact that humans are the primary cause of ecosystem collapse.Anthropogenic species extinction is a crime against nature and we are guilty of ecocide.

We must disabuse ourselves of the idea that we can buy our way out of this crisis. The failure of sustainable certification schemes highlight the shortcomings of our free-market economy. While buying sustainable and fair trade products is laudable it is nowhere near enough.

We need science based assessments and government rules and regulations that reflect these assessments. Industry has made it abundantly clear that they cant be left to police themselves. They are motivated by growth and this will continue as long as they have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits. To address climate change corporate polluters must be made to bear the costs through some form of carbon pricing scheme. Corporate leaderships must be held accountable for crimes against nature in criminal courts.

When we consider the scale of the suffering that we are creating it hard to avoid the conclusion that we have gone collectively insane. We are addicted to growth and this is a form of mass psychosis. Our economy does not serve the interests of life on this planet. We ignore the perils of growth and the fact that the economy will be decimated by the collapse of civilization. As long as we value profit over people and remain committed to unlimited growth we will not be able to seriously tackle the problems we face. Growth is untenable without decoupling and there is good reasons to believe that our conceptions of growth are an illusion.

What we are missing is the political will to enact legislation that will augur the required structural changes. We need to take heed of the fact that our politicians are beholden to corporate concerns. Fossil fuel companies own politicians and control governments. If we are to address this issue we will need to challenge corporate power. We must also challenge broken business models.

We must educate the public so that they can appreciate that wanting climate action and fossil fuels is an oxymoron. We will also need to explain that addressing the mess we have made will require government and corporate investments, and we must support this argument with the facts. This includes the fact that the cost of climate action is far less than the cost of inaction.

Deep divisions exacerbate an already dire situation, but it is not hopeless. While failure to act invites calamity, working together to solve this global problem can bring us together.

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