Sunday, May 14, 2006

economic growth is genocide

As climate change bears down on the near future eclipsing all other issues, the mainstay of our suicidal system - the myth of perpetual economic growth - is clung to by government and media. The mass denial goes on.

I mean, can you really imagine a national newspaper publishing something by an MP from the party of government saying anything about it? Not just shilly-shallying, but comparing our wilful consumption to the genocide of the Third Reich?

His name is Colin Challen and he's saying things like this:

Climate change means that business as usual is dead. It means that economic growth as usual is dead. But the politics of economic growth and business as usual live on.

What needs to change to bring about a political tipping point? What is stopping us from taking the radical path we need to follow today if we are to avoid dangerous climate change tomorrow?

We are imprisoned by our political Hippocratic oath: we will deliver unto the electorate more goodies than anybody else. Such an oath was only ever achievable by increasing our despoliation of the world's resources. Our economic model is not so different in the cold light of day to that of the Third Reich - which knew it could only expand by grabbing what it needed from its neighbours.

Genocide followed. Now there is a case to answer that genocide is once again an apt description of how we are pursuing business as usual, wilfully ignoring the consequences for the poorest people in the world...

To accept responsibility is not merely to say "sorry". Too often saying sorry seemed to be enough, like saying we're sorry for the slave trade. Rarely do such apologies come with compensation. But the strength of our relationship with climate change is that it gives us the power to change - it is not the past, it is the future.

We can discharge our responsibilities by changing our behaviour. This will only be worthwhile if we can measure the impact of our policies within an overall framework which allocates responsibilities fairly and sustainably...

we should aim to contract our emissions while converging to a per-capita basis of shared emissions rights. If our framework is disciplined by science, and not what is simply the current economic model, we may be able to break the Faustian pact we have entered into before it ends in tears...

These policies are a radical departure from business as usual. But since none of the mechanisms we currently have in place are solving the problem faster than it is being created, we must look to forging a new consensus which can think the unthinkable - and take the electorate along with it.

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