This issue highlights why the world is heading for ecological disaster, but why individual players usually choose the worst environmental options.
What follows is amended from my original post on 6th February, but with the addition of a final paragraph.
I am still desperate to save the ecosphere. Chessplayers would call my view a gambit: an apparently gross mistake which wins the game.
If this development is prevented, the steel works it is intended to supply would continue to produce, at less profitable rates than overseas competitors,, It would probably have to close due to being uneconomic, and its output would be taken up by a foreign operator, over whom we have no control.
If however the proposal goes ahead, for a while., the steelworks will be more profitable than competitors, because the coal is ideally suited to the needs of this steelworks. Closure of the mine and steelworks would be kept as a bargaining card in an eventual negotiation to save the ecosphere.
Britain could have had a whole fistful of such bargaining cards. An extra runway at Heathrow (or Leeds/Bradford)? Why not a complete new Airport Hub on the Maplin Sands? Hydraulic Fracturing? Of course. Oil is actually more plentiful than coal. Accessing it just needs the new technology.
At every stage it would be made clear that we intended to behave as badly as everyone else as long as that remained profitable. Britain must maintain market share.
The (successful) Chinese strategy has been to go Hell for Leather for growth, in a bid to become the No.1 economic world power. But there is a time limit. They must achieve dominance before economic activity becomes so extensive as to threaten the entire ecosphere. Perhaps they realize this.. In 2016 China put its weight behind the Paris Climate Accord.
When Extinction Rebellion was launched in London in October 2018. Greta Thunberg asked:
If climate change is an existential threat why is no one talking about it?
Greta, I can answer that question.
There are two main reasons Many companies are still making enormous profits with ‘business as usual’ it has been in their interests to minimise, and distract attention until the last possible moment. But they are entrepreneurs. They is a serious risk that they will guess at a much later date than say, scientists.
But more immediately relevant, if the world economy is to heed ecological constraints, it must contract. Coronavirus demonstrates that any contraction in the economy causes catastrophic and uncontrollable loss of income. for many. The world economy, including its welfare systems, assumed continuous growth. Any interruption was supposed to be short lived.
As Kate Raworth explains in Doughnut Economics, an economy within ecological limits will happen, either as a ‘soft landing’, or a crash.. Even if planned, balancing closures, including bankruptcies with new, carbon free income generating enterprises will require skilful management.
A latter day form of Feudalism, or the Indian caste system, using gated communities with an impoverished majority outside seems a probable final scenario, though I fear there may be bloodshed during the transition.
But this is not the only possible scenario. This weblog at least suggests a catalyst, a lubricant, to assist a managed transition to sustainability. Everyone needs to be sure they have basic necessities.
But the world economy is already far too big. Economic growth should have ceased some time ago. Even permanent ‘flatlining’, would continue to cause global warming, coral bleaching, habtat and biodiversity loss…
If limits are accepted, it is possible to sell to Conservatives that redistribution is insurance: a premium payable to ensure the ecosphere continues to function. But the overwhelming majority, especially those who still see Conservatives as enemies who must be defeated, think I am misguided.
If governments do try to implement the demands of the school strikers it will quickly become apparent why nothing has been done – without that guarantee of security, and the need for individual (national) measures to preserve a share in the economic downturn.
A leader who had the trust of the population could, on the basis of that guarantee that no one would starve, introduce the draconian measures needed immediately to save the ecosphere. I can see either Jacinda Ardern or Angela Merkel in this role. Not exactly charismatic, more inspiring trust. Winston Churchill, ably assisted by Clement Attlee, overcame a very divided country the last time Britain faced a crisis of this magnitude. I believe that Churchill, supported by Attlee, could have presented the proposalsnecessary now, and the public would have accepted them. As I shall say to Greta, if I ever get the chance, it is obvious to me why these proposals are not yet even ‘on the table’
Does Boris Johnson have the vision, or the calibre, to rise to the occasion and co-operate in tackling the biggest threat ever?
I have just watched (again) the film about Greta. She complains about world leaders not following words with deeds. She is feted everywhere by huge crowds, but she also notes, destruction of the ecosphere advances regardless.