Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Dr. Willie Soon, Climate Depot; Sustainability scientists from the University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, ETH Zürich and University of Leeds in Britain have outlined their solution to global warming.
Their plan involves wealth redistribution, public ownership of businesses and a cap on how much money people are allowed to have, with starring roles for eco-feminists and anarchists in their vision of a radically restructured society.
Scientists’ warning on affluence
For over half a century, worldwide growth in affluence has continuously increased resource use and pollutant emissions far more rapidly than these have been reduced through better technology. The affluent citizens of the world are responsible for most environmental impacts and are central to any future prospect of retreating to safer environmental conditions. We summarise the evidence and present possible solution approaches. Any transition towards sustainability can only be effective if far-reaching lifestyle changes complement technological advancements. However, existing societies, economies and cultures incite consumption expansion and the structural imperative for growth in competitive market economies inhibits necessary societal change.
It is well established that at least in the affluent countries a persistent, deep and widespread reduction of consumption and production would reduce economic growth as measured by gross domestic product (GDP)51,52. Estimates of the needed reduction of resource and energy use in affluent countries, resulting in a concomitant decrease in GDP of similar magnitude, range from 40 to 90%
The reformist group consists of heterogeneous approaches such as a-growth80, precautionary/pragmatic post-growth52, prosperity42 and managing85 without growth as well as steady-state economics86. These approaches have in common that they aim to achieve the required socio-ecological transformation through and within today’s dominant institutions, such as centralised democratic states and market economies52,77. From this position it often follows that current, socially vital institutions, such as the welfare state, labour markets, healthcare, pensions and others, need to be reformed to become independent from GDP growth52. Generally, bottom-up movements are seen as crucial, leading to value and cultural changes towards sufficiency42,47. Eventually, however, significant policy changes are proposed to achieve the necessary downshifting of consumption and production42,77,86and/or the reduction of environmental impacts through decoupling52,80. These include, among others, stringent eco-taxes or cap-and trade systems, directed investments in green industries and public institutions, wealth redistribution through taxation and a maximum income, a guaranteed basic income and/or reduced working hours42,77. Although these policies already seem radical when compared to today’s policies, the proponents of reformist approaches are convinced that the transformation can be achieved in current capitalist economies and democratic states42,77,86.
The second, more radical, group disagrees and argues that the needed socio-ecological transformation will necessarily entail a shift beyond capitalism and/or current centralised states. Although comprising considerable heterogeneity77, it can be divided into eco-socialist approaches, viewing the democratic state as an important means to achieve the socio-ecological transformation51,65 and eco-anarchist approaches, aiming instead at participatory democracy without a state, thus minimising hierarchies54,87. Many degrowth approaches combine elements of the two, but often see a stronger role for state action than eco-anarchists50,51,88. Degrowth is defined here as “an equitable downscaling of throughput [that is the energy and resource flows through an economy, strongly coupled to GDP], with a concomitant securing of wellbeing“59,p7, aimed at a subsequent downscaled steady-state economic system that is socially just and in balance with ecological limits. Importantly, degrowth does not aim for a reduction of GDP per se, but rather accepts it as a likely outcome of the necessary changes78. Moreover, eco-feminist approaches highlight the role of patriarchal social relations and the parallels between the oppression of women and exploitation of nature89, while post-development approaches stress the manifold and heterogeneous visions of achieving such a socio-ecological transformation globally, especially in the global South90.
Degrowth advocates propose similar policy changes as the reformist group50,80. However, it is stressed that implementing these changes would most likely imply a shift beyond capitalism, e.g. preventing capital accumulation through dis-economies of scale and collective firm ownership, and thus require radical social change59,62,91. Eco-socialists usually focus more on rationing, planning of investments and employment, price controls and public ownership of at least the most central means of production to plan their downscaling in a socially sustainable way65,77.
Central planning, rationing, price controls, punitive wealth taxes and wealth redistribution. The glorious future climate concerned scientists are planning for us.
via Watts Up With That?
June 21, 2020 at 08:15AM