120 years of procrastination: what to do with climate change?

If we choose to do nothing and continue ‘business as usual’, disaster is inevitable, said Naomi Klein today at her new book (“This changes everything”) launch in London. It’s a collective failure and procrastination for at least last 120 years ignoring the human impact on nature and climate. And, the more we have been delaying our response, the more radical action will need to be taken to prevent catastrophic consequences. Though 97% scientists say that climate change is caused by humans and primarily through extensive use of fossil fuels, the mainstream, the so called establishment lives in denial. There are many right wing think tanks and advocacy groups which promote the anti-climate change agenda. Naomi said, “I hang out a lot with climate change deniers and they know that if science is right (that climate change is a fact), then capitalism is dead. They know, that if this is really happening, we need regulation, which will destroy current free market system benefiting the current elite. They dont want that to happen” Climate change does not fit in the agenda of the Right, therefore it is up to the people, up to the Left to act, build a pressure and lead the way. Fossil fuel industry (just like arms industry!) is not only one of the most profitable sectors, but it is also one of the most subsidized industries. Moreover, as a result of globalization and financial liberalization, this is also a very highly concentrated business sector with few but massively big, rich and influential players. In her talk Naomi could have focused more on the solutions, but overall I would identify the following 4 main areas to focus on:

  • consumption and lifestyle – we need to start with ourselves; why/ what/ where we buy for how much and for what; if everyone would do the right thing, it would mean voluntary global protectionism (imported products would need to be taxed to offset carbon-heavy transportation/ logistics costs), localism and re-localization of our diets (the most environmentally friendly way to feed ourselves is to eat what is seasonal and produced where we live), anti-growth strategy (replacing GDP with more environmentally friendly statistical tools to measure quality of wellness of societies);
  • rethinking the concept of taxing; by applying principle ‘tax what you burn not what you earn’ could potentially ensure fairer distribution of responsibility and make everyone aware of the real price of goods and services we use;
  • going totally renewable – Naomi confirmed in her talk that technologically and technically there are no problems whatsoever to replace fossil fuels with renewables. All we need is a political will.
  • socialization and decentralization of the energy production companies which would allow communities to keep the profits and invest in the new energy; apparently this is already happening in many smaller German cities where people have gained power over energy production;

Just the other day i came across this story about Aral sea which used to be the world’s 4th largest lake and literally has now disappeared. It’s a typical example of how nature literally is changed as a result of human action. The question therefore is: have we lost our ability to distinguish between progress and degradation? Naomi’s new book might be as shocking as her ‘Shock doctrine’, so i guess, if anything, everyone should feel obliged to read it and get shocked if he/ she does not feel shocked enough already.

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