Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (known as AOC) is a young democratic socialist woman in the US Congress who is promoting the Green New Deal and is raising the alarm about climate change. This article from Common Dreams contains a creative 7 minute video that invites us to see a future in which the current denial and delay on the part of vested interests in the corporate world and government are replaced by a major shift towards preserving the planet for future generations.
It comes at a time when awareness about the urgency of climate change is spreading rapidly. Last night BBC TV aired David Attenborough’s stark warning in his Netflix series “Our Planet” (perhaps an anthropomorphic error of a title?) in the episode ‘Climate: The facts’ and this week Extinction Rebellion civil disobedience is making headlines around the world with demands to have governments declare a climate emergency. Also Greta Thunberghere spoke to EU MEPs this week appealing to them to make climate change and several other existential challenges the main issue in the upcoming EU Parliamentary elections.
Naomi Klein pointed to the hope the video could give to people interested in working to change the planet for the better. “This beautiful film helps us imagine a different version of ourselves, and a future in which we decided to come together in the face of crisis, rather than surrender and fall apart,”
In following Jem Bendell’s website about Deep Adaptation I came across and subscribed to the website above and also this presentation (39 mins.) by Stuart Scott and Alison Green given in November 2018 at an EU Commission Foresight Group conference. Since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 and COP24 in December 2018 coverage of the climate crisis has expanded considerably in the mainstream media in large part due to the viral spread of Greta Thunberg’s student strike and the rise of the Extinction Rebellion ‘s civil disobedience that is for the next two weeks operating to disrupt daily transport in London and elsewhere. The Alliance of World Scientists emerged from the 1992 warning by scientists of the gravity of existential threats. 25 years later in 2017 a much larger group of 23000 signatory scientists repeated the warning, as little has been done to address the system change that is needed.
The ‘elephant in the room’ underlying existential threats is a global operating system driven by money (‘a virus of the mind’ or universal meme, according to Scott) and neoclassical ‘growth’ economics which completely ignores the natural world’s ecosystems , ethics and equity.
In his emotional presentation, Scott lists 10 ecological stressors: biodiversity loss; food systems; freshwater scarcity; marine life depletion; ocean pollution; forest destruction; air toxification; soil degradation; overpopulation and climate change. He sees the last of these as the most pressing risk .
For example, the Paris Agreement does not oblige Global North countries to do anything other than report on their own actions. The Agreement also explicitly absolves Global North countries of their liability for climate-related disasters. Unsurprisingly, the result is a world on course for 4℃ warming, and complete civilisational collapse.
This short clip from a talk show has George Monbiot getting to the heart of the issue of why Spaceship Earth is on a crash course as its crew uses GDP growth as its goal for a better future. Although individual consumers can make a tiny difference by not using plastic cotton buds, by going vegetarian and by ceasing to fly, the system that promotes doubling of consumption every 24 years (3% annual growth) has to be radically restrained.
Tim Jackson is Prof of Sustainable Development Studies at the University of Surrey and a passionate advocate of a post-growth economics in which prosperity is not eliminated but is redefined. This short blog introduces his critique of GDP. His lengthy paper here sets out more fully his critical perspective on GDP and its stagnation in the OECD rich countries. It concludes:
The dynamics of the existing growth-based paradigm are driving environmental damage, exacerbating social inequality and contributing to increased political instability. There has never been a more urgent need to question the growth imperative. There has never been a more opportune time to develop the design concepts for a resilient post-growth society.
This BBC “Ideas” video deals with the sense of helplessness that many people feel about the increasing awareness of climate change and other existential threats. It is one of a series of 16 short videos on sustainability themes. The first video is followed by another that answers the questions “Can we transform the world in 12 years?”. The New Deal of F D Roosevelt is cited as a successful social transformation as is the man on the moon space programme and the adaptation that led to the end of WWII and the Icelandic volcanic eruption that disrupted air transport. Humans are innovative and adaptable claims the presenter. Worth a look at the collected set of ideas!
Jeremy Lent in this article argues that the increasingly popular concept of ‘deep adaptation’ (preparing to deal with inevitable socio-ecological collapse) is premature and that there is still time to tell our grandchildren that ‘deep transformation’ to avoid collapse is still possible.
A new scientific report described in this article and video brings together the many linked indicators that show how much faster global warming is occurring in the Arctic. There now seems to be a flood of compelling scientific reports for world leaders and their followers to ignore as they remain trapped in their commitment to giving prime place to economic growth over ecological equilibrium on Spaceship Earth.
In yet another call to accelerate ‘transformative action’ a new UN conference in Copenhagen saw 400 delegates meet in April 2019. ‘With the urgency of climate action at an all-time high, global experts and leaders meeting in Copenhagen identified key immediate action areas to better serve both the world’s efforts to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure better lives for all people…. the outcome document, will inform the in-depth review of SDG 13 on climate action at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York in July’
Speaking on behalf of the UN Climate Change secretariat, Deputy Executive Secretary, Ovais Sarmad, said: “Climate change is a threat multiplier. If we don’t act urgently and with more ambition, it will destabilize the global economy, create conflict, displacement and cause incredible suffering for people everywhere. But climate change also provides our single greatest opportunity to build a safer, healthier, more resilient and prosperous world and by further linking the climate and SDGs process, we can drive transformative action at all levels.”
Despite the obvious good intentions of both the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) I have real difficulty in not seeing ‘sustainable development’ as an oxymoron as long as development is understood as conventional economic growth or even ‘green growth’ on the continuum above which require evermore degeneration of available energy and materials derived from the overloaded natural world. The planet is now in need of regeneration and restoration of the disrupted natural systems, including the atmosphere, that humans need to support civilisation into the future. This means using less, not more, of the gifts of nature and the geosphere. If development is to be sustained, then diminishing human impact is the only form of ‘development’ that will aid restoration and regeneration of Spaceship Earth.