Climate, Prosperity, Economic Growth, and Governance

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source: Possibilitator

It must always be remembered that the greatest barrier to humanity rising to meet the climate crisis is not that its too late or that we don’t know what to do. There is just enough time, and we are swamped with green tech and green plans. And yet the reason so many of us are greeting this threat with grim resignation is that our political class appears wholly incapable of seizing those tools  and implementing those plans. And it’s not just the people we vote into office and then complain about  – it’s us. For most of us living in post-industrial societies, when we see the crackling black and white footage of general strikes in the 1930s, victory gardens in the 40s, and Freedom Rides in the 60s, we simply cannot imagine being part of any mobilization of that depth and scale. That kind of thing was fine form them, but surely not us – with our eyes glued to our smartphones, our attention spans scattered by click bait, our loyalties split by the burdens of debt and the insecurities of contract work. Where would we organize? Who would we trust enough to lead us? Who, moreover, is “we”?

In other words, we are products of our age and of a dominant ideological project – one that has too often taught us to see ourselves as little more than singular gratification – seeking units to maximize our narrow advantage. This project has also led our governments to stand by helplessly for more than two decades as the climate crisis morphed from a “grandchildren” problem to a banging-down-the-door problem.

Naomi Klein, in The Nation, October 6, 2014

British economist, Tim Jackson writes in last week’s Guardian about the conflict between economic growth and climate change. In The Dilemma of Growth: Prosperity vs. Economic Expansion, Jackson asks:

Rethinking prosperity is a vital task because our prevailing vision of the good life – and the economics intended to deliver it – have both come badly unstuck. Financial markets are unstable; inequality is rising; and despite the 500,000 or so people who took to the streets before Tuesday’s UN Climate Summit in New York, tackling climate change still faces a “frustrating lack of progress”. If this were not enough, the proposition that more is always better has signally failed to deliver, particularly in the affluent west. But questioning these values is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries.

Add me to that list.

But wait, there are signs of hope. From author Terry Tempest Williams blogging at the NYC Climate March, just a week ago –

They just kept coming in waves, in torrents, a river of people convening on the streets of New York City in the march for climate justice. They just kept coming, hundreds of thousands of individuals, indigenous, black, white, brown, yellow, and red, a rainbow of colors winding through the canyons of Manhattan.

This movement of climate justice is no longer segregated, is no longer privileged, is no longer young or old, or the radical fringe moving toward the center. Instead, this movement resides in the core of a collective concern: Earth has a fever. There is no Planet B. What we witnessed on Sunday, September 21, was 400,000 individuals standing in the center of this crisis with love.

Maybe, there is just enough hope, that readers will throw off the shackles of hopelessness and take up the hard and long work of redirecting our future.

An election is only five weeks away. It’s not too late or too early to work for a candidate or proposal in your community that can point us in a new direction. Not sure who? LOOK HERE

Now, not tomorrow.

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Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

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