I have just read Greta Thunberg’s address to the Westminster Parliament on 23/4/19. But I have also read a sobering article on China’s U-turn away from renewables, which offers clues as to where Greta’s message fails, despite her being absolutely right on humankind’s terrible mistake.
The 1972 MIT Report Limits to Growth showed the consequences of unfettered economic growth to be disastrous, but like Greta, I was baffled by how little impact Limits made on others. As she said to the Extinction Rebellion (XR) launch in Parliament Square 31st October 2018:
“ If burning fossil fuels threatens our very existence, why is no one talking about it?”
She explains her insight as due to Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s was unknown when I was her age, but I identify with both her passionate reaction to our mutual discovery, and to her puzzlement as to why so few others were bothered. Her classmates ignored her.
But I soon realized what China (and, accidentally, Venezuela) has recently found out the hard way: the Tragedy of the Commons, which I explain more fully in a weblog ‘Page’. No one individual, or even a whole nation. can afford to be the first to drop out of the economic rat race. According to the FT article (link above). Greta is accused of being a focus for the west ‘ganging up’ on China. With the current conventional mind set, I can see why, but from our perspective it is grossly unfair. All we want is co-operation to save the ecosphere from destruction.
But Greta lays herself open to such a charge because she does not address the dynamics of the Tragedy.
For 47 years I have seen the unconditional basic income (UBI) as a component in what could have been an orderly transition from a growth to a sustainable economy. Only when individuals feel secure can they contemplate what will happen whether we plan for it or not. I describe the UBI as a catalyst, or a lubricant without which the more obvious changes cannot happen. I suggest to the better off, who are more likely to worry about ecological threats, that although the UBI will cost them money, they should think of it as an insurance premium.
But normal minds seem not to grasp the logic of a mind set change. As Greta also said on 31st October 2018:
“I think in many ways we autistic are the normal ones. The rest keep saying climate change is an existential threat, but just carry on as before”
I need to become a midget on Greta’s giant shoulders. I have tried to contact her though Caroline Lucas. I believe that Greta would listen to advice from Caroline. But Caroline is normal. She does not take me seriously. If she did, she would join me in shouting ‘UBI’ from the housetops. Caroline referred me to one of Greta’s team, who probably also has a normal mind, but who sees her role as protecting a very valuable, but vulnerable asset. If Greta, who sees Asperger’s as giving insights that others miss, has actually read my weblog but cannot see the UBI’s crucial potential for changing minds, then we are indeed in deep trouble.
I once read that the only way Australia could function without massive inputs was the way the Aborigines did it. It could only pay its way in a growth based world by mining and exporting non-renewables. Although Australia’s plight is mainly due to bigger offenders, they cannot afford to believe that the fires have any connection with selling coal.
Happy New Year??