Climate is (briefly) centre stage

The latest IPCC report is blunt: limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030 or expect  the End of the World as we know it. Scaremongering? Not all the media even bothered to report it. After all, these people have been crying ‘wolf’ ever since the original MIT Limits to Growth report in 1972, have they not? I was involved in the formation of what became the Green Party, which was a response to that warning.

Professor James Hansen and Mary Robinson, former President of the Irish Republic both weighed in with the urgency of preventative action. So did Jonathan Bartley on behalf of the Green Party. But did any of them spell out what could bring that about? If nobody worried in 1972, why should they now?

Oddly enough, Michael has just become the third worst Hurricane ever to hit the USA mainland. Kerala (2 months ago) is a distant memory. Are ExxonMobil or Cuadrilla going to offer compensation to the victims for their part in causing this devastation? The insurance, especially the re-insurance industry will be the first to face the reality that historic patterns of damage are no guide to future claims.

A little cameo occurred at last weekend’s Green Party conference. I came across (Baroness) Jenny Jones (Brexit) and Molly Scott Cato MEP (Remain) chatting amicably. I joked about the oddity of this, but I could not resist the opportunity of pointing out to not one, but two such big hitters of the relevance, not just to Brexit, but the whole ecological crisis, of the Basic (Citizens’) Income (UBI).

They both laughed. Clive on his hobby horse again.

Neither of them take the UBI seriously. Oh yes, they both think it will be a jolly good idea to reduce inequality in the dim and distant future, but central, crucial to climate change – now?

I wish somebody would explain to me the fallacy of the following:

1 Economic activity must be restricted to whatever is sustainable

2 In practice this means at least a temporary halt to economic growth (Technology may eventually allow ecologically sound expansion to resume and continue seamlessly into the future, but not in time to prevent James Hansen’s warnings of abrupt climate change).

3 Humans are hard wired against loss. If you have been able to take growth for granted, anything else feels like loss.

4 Something is required which gives everyone a feeling of security regardless of the state of the economy. If there are better ideas than the UBI, no one has yet mentioned them.

5 Once this is assured, individuals can not only make ecological personal decisions, but vote for eco-taxes and incentives which would be oppressive without a UBI.

A fuller account of this is in my weblog ‘Page’ Résumé as Springboard. In 1973 we had no idea of the enormity of what we were trying to achieve. Growth remains the accepted wisdom. Please Jenny, Molly, Jonathan, anybody. . . .

This week has also seen the Universal Credit come centre stage again. Did I ever mention the UBI? Jenny, Molly, Jonathan, anybody. . . .




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