HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD - BECOME POOR
Interesting piece on the BBC website from some bloke in charge of the Global Commons Institute.
No, I hadn't heard of them either.
Carbon emissions fucking up the atmosphere and causing deaths from climate change are currently split like this: 33% of the world produces 94% of carbon emissions, while 66% of the world produces just 6%.
For a long time E.R. has believed that the message to help Africa - "get yourself sorted, and we'll invest in you so you can become more like us" has been wrong.
The harsh reality is, that aside from the starvation and embattled politics (neither of which exist across all of Africa), that we need to become more like them.
Of course, becoming "poorer" is a concept that has to be addressed in the context of what you consider being "rich" is.
If being "rich" means that we pollute the air that we breathe, destroy the atmosphere that surrounds us, and poison the water we drink, then maybe being "rich" isn't actually that much fun at all.
While definitions for "poverty" in western societies continues to rise, levels of "happiness" do not.
We're all making ourselves miserable to become richer - yet the outcome of this success is unhappiness and a fucked-up, polluted world.
Global deaths from climate change are rising.
This is economic genocide.
And you and me are the murderers.
We are not only killing the world to become rich, we are also killing the poor. Investment is not needed in growth, but in contraction.
We need to learn to live with less.
If you don't believe it, fine.
You may not die from the poison you make, but right now someone else is.
And eventually your kids will.
Or your kids' kids.
Contraction and Convergence (C&C) - giving economic shares to countries that don't pollute from those that do - uses the market framework to set levels of carbon emissions at those which the world can afford.
It encourages growth in those countries that enviromentally can afford it, and contraction in those that don't. Just as we pay to use oil as a resource, we would pay for every bit of the atmosphere we fuck up.
Businesses and governments will be forced to replace dirty businesses with clean ones. An environmental harmony could be a real possibility.
It's pie in the sky economics - maybe.
But maybe the West, realizing that territorially it no longer owns the world's energy supplies, should sign up to it. And fast.
Then we can start setting our sights on a future which puts first the only real wealth we all own - the earth.
To read more about C&C see here
Painting by Christopher Orr
All We Need is the Air that we Breathe 2004
Courtesy Ibid Projects, London and Vilnius Collection of Magnus Edensvard