I wasn’t going to do a blog this week. Tomorrow I am off to the Green Economics Institute annual conference , with an impressive line-up of speakers, including Tracy Marchioness of Worcester.
But two news items got me going. According to the Daily Mail (I didn’t buy one, just the headline), the Tories are planning to stop child Benefits for the third child of anyone on benefits. This does involve an idea which is relevant to a sustainable society, namely that fiscal incentives should favour small families. For that reason, as long as everyone who deplores this government’s ‘welfare’ policies remains blind to the key role of means testing, then many people who think of themselves as taxpayers might agree. It might even be a vote winner.
But it is seriously wrong-headed, evil even, for two reasons. The first is the fact that it only applies to scroungers, sorry, benefit recipients. I make no apology for appealing twice within two paragraphs to those who want to stop this government in its tracks, to wake up to the mileage they (the govt) are getting out of simply abolishing means tested benefits. But the other reason is that any fiscal incentive to limit family size could only come as a part of a coherent, socially just plan for a stable population, with at least a 15 year phase-in period. Even then, I would join those who opposed any such proposal unless it was in the context of a generous Citizens’, or Basic Income already in place. Until ecological issues became important, only parties with a right wing agenda offered ideas on how to limit population, which is why some are still suspicious of any such concern. Unfortunately this suggestion by the Tories puts the clock back a generation.
Now for something completely different (Except that this also is relevant to whether we leave a planet fit for future generations). We can stop worrying about climate change. Scientists are suggesting that the sun may be going into another ‘Maunder minimum’, a 70 year period when sunspots disappear, and solar radiation is reduced. So not only can we go on pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, perhaps we should.
For those who believe in God, I think he has sent humankind an intelligence test. If they pass, they survive. Instead of reaching a tipping point within the next decade or less, when runaway warming takes off, we may have been given 70 years in which to tailor our behaviour to a habitable planet when the sun eventually returns to full power. As the authors of the link I have given say:
“One should be aware of the political background to this delicate issue, and not fall into the trap of using possible solar warming as an excuse for delay in reducing man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. Whatever the magnitude of the effects of these in the long term, there is no doubt that their concentration has increased dramatically in the past 30 years, and that for many reasons this is not a desirable path to follow.”