Several recent reports collectively endorsed by thousands of expert scientists have warned the world that time is running out to save Humanity and the Biosphere from further catastrophic climate change and further massive biodiversity loss. Massive harm has already occurred due to continuing carbon pollution, population growth and economic growth and it is clear that zero growth in these areas is insufficient – there must be negative carbon pollution (atmospheric CO2 draw-down), negative population growth (population decline) and negative economic growth (degrowth) to halt and reverse this worsening disaster. However the key question is how much reversal is needed for a safe and sustainable planet?
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Less of What We Don't Need
Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.
In order to meet the colossal challenges of the time, fundamental change to the socio-economic order is needed. The environmental catastrophe is the major issue, together with armed conflict, potentially nuclear. Both threaten the survival of humanity and the planet, and both are widely ignored by the men and women of power, whose short-term approach, obsession with ‘the economy’, and a nationalistic introspective view of the world is leading us to the precipice of disaster.
The emergence of interest in degrowth can be traced back to the 1st International Degrowth Conference organized in Paris in 2008. At this conference, degrowth was defined as a “voluntary transition towards a just, participatory, and ecologically sustainable society,” so challenging the dogma of economic growth. Another five international conferences were organized between 2010 and 2018, with the latest in Malmo in August.
Over the past more than ten years I have wandered around almost every tiger sanctuary in India from Kaziranga and Manas in Assam to Idukki in Kerala. I lived in the middle of the Anamallais for seven years. In my childhood and youth in the 1960’s and 70’s, I spent every summer and winter holiday with my dear friend and mentor Uncle Rama (Venkatrama Reddy) in his house on the bank of the Kadam River in the middle of what is today called, Kaval Tiger Reserve. I would spend every single day and many nights in the forest, walking or in a bullock cart. No tiger. I spent ten days in Badhavgarh living in the house of a good friend, alone, in Tala village which is in the buffer zone. I went on safari drives every morning and evening. No tiger. I spent days in Pench, even slept in a dry nala on the boundary of the forest, one hot afternoon. No tiger.
The comfort of rich people depends on an abundant supply of poor people. -Voltaire
Greed is as old as time. As long as there are people, greed and avarice will continue to exist. In Ancient Greece they had a special word for it: 'pleonexia'. Pleonexia is a concept that unites greed, covetousness and avarice in a philosophical context. Strictly speaking, it is ‘the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others’. In other words, ruthless selfishness and the arrogant assumption that other people and things are there to be taken advantage of.
eople writing on climate change really like to use the word we. “We could have prevented global warming in the ’80s.” “We are emitting more carbon dioxide than ever.” “We need to ramp up solutions to the climate crisis.”
That verbal tic was in full effect on Monday, after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its special report on the differences between 1.5 degree and 2 degree Celsius global warming. The IPCC stated in no uncertain terms that climate change will threaten the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the next decades unless greenhouse-gas emissions halve in 10 years and cease entirely in 30. In response, one prominent climate journalist wrote on Twitter, “We had plenty of time & warning to avoid this fate, without undue disruption, but now we can only avoid it with EXTREME disruption. Given how badly we’ve botched it so far, odds are we’ll continue to go too slow.”
In June, the author was invited to speak at the eight annual Breakthrough Dialogue, an annual invite-only conference where accomplished thinkers debate how to achieve prosperity for humans and nature. The Breakthrough Institute, an ecomodernist think-tank, apparently welcomed his presence as a provocateur.
Without more rigorous news coverage, few indeed will know that Nordhaus and Romer are epitomes of neoclassical economics, that 20th century occupation isolated from the realities of natural science. Nordhaus and Romer may deserve their prizes for economic modeling, but each gets an F in advanced sustainability.
Some scientists say it’s necessary to save the climate. An indigenous-led opposition says it will only save the fossil fuel economy.