These days Madrid is hosting the climate summit with global 2025 targets on sight. It was suposed to take place in Santiago, but the Chilean government could not grant the smooth functioning of the summit due to local revolts. Chileans protest against the neo-liberal policies run by Sebastián Piñera’s office.
The celebration of this summit brings some thinking about ecologic challenges being faced by global economy. The bigger truths are usually unsung, untold, unspoken of. In most cases they are like the big elephant in the room. No one assess them and brings them on to the table, as they are uncomfortable to deal with.
This is precisely the key to understand why activists raising awareness of the existance and consequences of climate change have missed the task of proposing measures to avoid the horrible future scientific predictions are describing. Al Gore fell into that a few years ago, Greta Thumberg is falling into the same trap.
But why these public figures never seem to propose any solutions or measures to righten global economy’s footprint on the planet? Like any complex questions, the answer entails several layers. I bare two explanatory arguments for this. In the first place, the people who can measure and determine that climate change is happening, and that is in man’s hand to stop it are scientists. They are not economists, much less macroeconomists. Scientists and climatologists are there to point where the problem is, not to come up with solutions.
As a second argument, well, I have the feeling if we do not have already an agenda of effective, bold points to correct what global and national economies are wrong it is because some people dont want this to happen. With the exception of Bernie Sanders, no other political leader or renown economist has come up with wholistic solutions at a global scale.
Since the fall of the USSR we would all agree the only relevant economic system in the world is capitalism, which is based around concepts of expansion, free trade, economic and production growth; completely opposed to the idea of a planned economy.
The world’s economy as we know it today cannot accept the idea of limiting growth, trade and production. The world economy is not capable as of today of determining and enforcing production quotas, rationalizing global resources, and planning at high-level the economic activity to ensure the fair and rational provision of raw materials and natural resources. If we really wanted to switch to an economy that accounts for the natural resources, and uses them to their limit, but not beyon them, we would need to ditch capitalism. At least capitalism as we know it to date.
This seemingly crazy idea would require limiting the yearly production of cars, washing machines, photo cameras, computers, building materials, clothing, food, mineral extraction, and so on, with the goal to meet, not only CO2 emissions, but rationing all natural resources by international law. I am afraid that isn’t compatible with concepts like free market, the invisible hand and free-uncontrolled world trade. De-regulation is not compatible with protecting the environment, because the costs of resource depletion are spread amongs all human-kind, while profit is concentrated on a reduced group of organizations and individuals. However, I do not want to only point to some powerful masterminds; what it is required to actually stop climate change is also probably not compatible with employment and social values we have deeply engraved in our western cultures either.
I have always been told that my preceeding generation’s threat was an all-out nuclear war. The next genration’s will be climate change. And I would not put my money we are going to succeed. At least not with current world order as it sits today.