Bangladesh floods; Naomi Klein and the ‘Tragedy’

Climate change means more energy in the atmosphere. Some of that raises temperatures, as southern Europe and Kuwait have noticed. The rest shifts large volumes of water or drives winds.

So whatever the deniers tell you, to the extent that greenhouse gases, not just CO2 but also escapes of CH4 in fracking, are due to human activity, they are responsible for worsening  flood or hurricane and tornado disasters. Bangladesh is the latest victim

Disasters have always happened, but the sooner  Exxonmobil Cuadrilla and others accept their part in the responsibility, the better. But of course they won’t, until the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ is widely understood. As long as economic growth is seen as normal, no one can afford to put themselves at a disadvantage in the rat race.

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Last week I praised Kate Raworth . but suggested that she had missed two crucial points, the part an unconditional Citizens’ or Basic Income (UBI) could play in ending the apparent dependency on growth, and  the real significance of the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ as a driver of the same problem.

Since then I have read part of Naomi Klein’s book ‘This changes Everything’ (Penguin Random House 2014). Like Raworth, klein offers vital insights, but she too misses both points, which is a pity, because in Chapter 7. ‘No Messiahs’ she produces a wealth of evidence supporting my explanation of how the ‘Tragedy’ is playing out in the late stages of an economy reaching limits to growth. It is possible that both the UBI and the ‘Tragedy’ are dealt with later in the book, but neither appears in the index.

Another thing I have discovered since last week in addition to fracking as a frightening example of the ‘Tragedy’ is fishing in the Pacific.

I have explained in my blog post Page on the ‘Tragedy’ that a society, in our case, the global society, which has evolved a culture of taking maximum advantage of the ability to expand, will normally be individualistic and competitive. Therefore instead of the rational response of restraint and co-operation as limits to growth impinge, a more ‘natural’ response will be for competition to escalate into aggression.

Calls for restraint will be taken as a sign of weakness. Even though each competitor may realize the consequences of not slowing down, the first to do so merely puts themselves at a disadvantage. But the neoliberal clique are aware of the risks they are taking. However, the strategy is to pay lip service to the need to heed ecological limits, notably the climate, but to do precisely the opposite to that advice in one’s own business, and lie as necessary. They all realize that the music must stop at some point, but that can only happen if they all do it at the same time. The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change may have been an attempt to implement such a moment. Unfortunately Donald Trump actually believes the lies put out by the climate deniers.

That is the theory which I have already noted in this weblog, but in Chapter 7 ‘No Messiahs’ Naomi Klein names powerful individuals who have followed this script closely: Richard Branson, Michael Bloomberg (ex- Mayor of New York), Warren Buffett, and even Bill Gates.

Although this is brinkmanship, it makes sense to the small clique control because they think that in the short term they can make profits and so consolidate their economic power before the inevitable crisis. One worry is that CEOs of large companies have generally got where they are today by taking risks which happened to pay off. If they have misjudged the right moment to pull back, we shall all suffer, but in the slight hope that they have not, we do need to make sure the UBI is widely understood.

I would add Rex Tillerson, now Secretary of State in the Trump administration, but until recently CEO of Exxonmobil to Klein’s rogues’ gallery of false Messiahs. He does not figure in Klein’s list because unlike the others he is a very late convert even to lip service to Green principles. But at least Tillerson has a firm grasp of the  ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, and how powerful people like him might just avert it. After a 10 year history of funding climate denial lies as Exxonmobil CEO, he is now urging Trump to endorse the ‘Paris’ agreement.

It would help if Kate Raworth and Naomi Klein understood the ‘Tragedy‘ as well as Tillerson does.

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