Abnormal Weather (How to stop it)

No sooner had I blogged that The Green Party had its priorities wrong, than Jonathan Bartley did what is needed: he links the approaching climate disaster with the Green Party. Thank you Jonathan. I read this in an internal GP mail out. I have lost the link. If, as previously, someone can provide it, thank you also.

But I saw no mention of it anywhere else. That could be my inexpertise, but this summer’s world-wide weather aberrations should have made the public, or at least the media anxious to listen to the views  of the only Party expressly formed to address such problems, just as they did in 1989. Greens received 2.3million votes (14.5%) in the European elections that year. That was fairly uniformly proportional throughout England at 43% of whatever the Conservative vote was. For comparison we got  1,111,603 (3.6%)  in the 2015 General election, and 525,435 (1.6%) in 2017.

This article in the Financial Times is likely to have received wider publicity, but it poses the same question: What are we all supposed to do about it?

Saving the global environment should have been everyone’s main concern ever since the 1972 Limits to Growth study. Yet even in 2017 the Green Party took the view that not enough people were concerned to feature the global environment prominently.

Last week I mentioned that Kerala was dreading the next month due to climate change. It has already happened.

The Green Party’s failure to be poised and ready for this moment is only indirectly its own fault. It fell into traps which would have been difficult to avoid. The Party ignored that signal in 1989 because already it consisted mainly of passionate socialists. That in turn was inevitable because saving the ecosphere will entail drastic reduction in inequality. Meanwhile, the nearly 2 million who voted Green in prosperous areas (but not since 1989) had not realized the redistributive implications. Throughout issues have dominated which people felt had more immediate impact on their lives, even if, rationally, they should have been mistaken.

The Green Party could have handled things differently. Iain Duncan Smith’s Think Tank Centre for Social Justice had not yet produced its report Dynamic Benefits which inadvertently revealed (in 2009) that an adequate Universal Basic (Citizens’) Income (UBI) was feasible, if expensive to the better off.

Although the UBI is redistributive, it can allow a whole raft of ‘market forces’ ideas to make sense which are otherwise rightly condemned as oppressive.  It could – still can –  be the basis for a final class war peace treaty. But this was and still is uncongenial to the overwhelming majority of Green Party members.

Almost all advocates of the UBI do so on grounds of fairness is a world of swiftly changing employment opportunities. I agree, but there is no mention of saving the ecosphere. Guy Standing, a leading exponent, even includes boosting economic growth among its advantages.

I, on the other hand, am still traumatized by the evening when I joined PEOPLE, now the Green Party. The founder members had just outlined the message of the Limits to Growth report.

Me (an enquirer): You are suggesting a recession.

Founder member: We shall call it a steady state economy.

Me: But it will be a recession. Recessions have always caused hardship. What will you do when people become desperate?

Founder member: If necessary, Martial Law. The economic collapse envisaged by Limits will be considerably worse, right?. Do you have a better idea than Martial Law?

I didn’t, but guess what I came up with on the way home.

My full narrative, honed and added to over the years, is now included in my new weblog ‘Page’ The Résumé as a Springboard. I can see why we have made so little progress. Concentration on success at local level made more sense at first. But the Green Party was founded to try to steer the Titanic away from an iceberg. I fear we have left it too late, but in terms of what we can do about dire warnings, I have been waiting a long time for a better idea than a UBI for making appropriate responses by millions of individuals possible..

5 responses to “Abnormal Weather (How to stop it)

  1. Hi, I stumbled over your page from here: https://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/why-degrowth-has-out-grown-its-own-name-guest-post-by-kate-raworth/#comment-382250
    (I’d been on the Doughnut Economics page before that).

    I’ve only looked at two or three of your postings here (and couldn’t find the one you were referring to in the comment I came from above), but in general I would strongly agree with the point you make here in this post that making sure everyone is well enough off and making sure the planet doesn’t go down the tubes really, really needs to go (and be thought of) hand in hand. (Side note – you have a more or less similiar situation here in Germany, where the Green Party is only weakly aligned with working class interests).

    There is an (pretty fundamental) issue were I strongly disagree with you though – the idea that a resolution of the situation can be brought about “top-down” through election outcomes: my view (I’ll try not to get into rambling) is that the current economic and political systems are too strongly interlinked and interdependent than for that to be possible – that is, I think what’s necessary is bottom up / grassroots level organising (political and economic!), to seriously change things.

    Of course, if push comes to shove I’m happy to root for Universal Basic/ Citizens Income. I just don’t think that goes far enough :P.

    Kind regards,
    Sean Scherer

    P.S. I guess I felt compelled to reply / leave a message since you seem similarly concerned, frustrated and perhaps exasperated with the current situation – both the global environmental as well as the (various) political national ones.

    • Thank you Sean If I ever write an update as suggested in my blog Page Resume as a Springboard It will include a complete answer to your caveats, if only because I shall use them for referenceI

      To clarify, I ‘wondered’ whether Amelia Womack, standing for Deputy Leader of the Green Party, had divided loyalties as she had a boyfriend active in the Labour Party. I was wrong. She broke with him ages ago
      But a re-write will also make clearer that the main benefit of a Basic Income is not its far-reaching practical effects, but its potential for a wholesale ‘bottom-up’ mind set change. In effect, I agree with your view on a’top douwn’ resolution.
      Alles Gute (Seit 27 Jahr wohnt mein Sohn in Oesterreich)

    • This may be duplicated, due to my misunderstanding the technology.
      If I ever I re-write the 2011 book it will answer all your caveats, but my reason for making the Basic Income central is not its far-reaching practical consequences, but its potential for a ‘bottom up’ world-wide mind set change.
      I agree with your view of ‘top down’ resolutions.

  2. Ah, interesting, I hadn’t read that angle of it yet – thanks for the reply! I perhaps misinterpreted your last sentence “…UBI for making appropriate responses by millions of individuals possible..” more along the line of enabling more sustainable consumer choices (though I guess there is important truth to that!), and less in a more general reorganisation of the way we interact and depend on one another.

    It might be that my disillusionment with the current state of affairs somewhat blinds me to solutions stemming (even if only at first) from within the system. Lets say I’m at least sceptical for myself of putting my energy there. But as I said, if there was a vote in parliament, I’d certainly be all for it!

    Dir auch alles gute! Perhaps till some time in the future :).

    Regards, Sean

  3. It’s due to the way our minds work Most people are at risk of not seeing the wood for the trees. As a borderline Asperger’s I see the wood, clearly but trip over logs all the time.
    Thanks for the warning that i need to stress the wider effect of the UBI.

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