We were washing up after a communal (co-housing) meal. I asked my co-washer “Am I alone in seeing something which might slow climate breakdown?”.
She rounded on me:
“Climate change is imminent. Nearly everyone sees that. I lie in bed wondering what will become of Jonah [her son, aged 3] Your basic income is now a mainstream idea!”
Lilac being a co-housing complex, someone came with a more immediate problem.so our conversation went no further. Here is what I would have said.
“Do you really think governments are taking this crisis seriously? Why is my blog not being re-tweeted? Climate did not figure at all in the (nearby) Batley & Spen by-election (!st July). The local Green Party had decided not to contest it (They rejected my offer to stand). A (Sort of) environmental party, the Association of Green Socialists, polled 104 votes, 1 in 700 of those you think know how serious this problem is”.
If it is true that climate change is now seen as a frighteningly close threat, and that the UBI is generally accepted, why do those in a position to act still talk about 2030 for the climate, with no mention of the UBI as having any relevance. I am still asking why what I thought was clear to me in 1973, is still not causing governments to act urgently on CO2, or voters (in a by-election) to demand action, as does Greta..
The logic for me is to scream ‘danger’ from the housetops, with an idea that might help. I do not hear anyone else screaming, instead they lie in bed worrying.
I doubt that the unconditional basic income (UBI) is a mainstream idea yet, but the main problem is that it is suggested as an answer to artificial intelligence (AI). It is not yet generally associated with climate breakdown. Indeed, in her seminal book Doughnut Economics) Kate Raworth gives wide coverage to the UBI – on reducing inequality and dealing with AI. But in the chapter entitled “Be agnostic about growth” she sees no connection. (I have tried to contact her, but she gets too much traffic. She never replied.)
I accept my co-washer’s opinion that I am my own worst enemy when I Identify myself as a lone, misunderstood figure. But that is how it feels. So here is another attempt to be positive:
I start from the premiss that the Ecosphere (the World) is in grave danger. That was outlandish in 1973 but an election campaign now. with a poster of the floods in Germany on 7th July fronted by Greta saying:
“I want governments to panic!”
might just have a very different effect now. (I will not digress as to the failure of the AGS to link up with XR and ‘Fridays for the Future’)
But this is where I lose contact with such as my co-washer-upper, and others with conventional minds who share our fears. Why is the urgency of the danger which was theoretically obvious to me with no evidence in 1973, still not urgent enough to scream from the house tops?
I have a possible explanation as to why.
I see the need for something which allows a mind set change to a form of Buddhism – philosophical acceptance of limits. Most minds see the UBI as a practical measure. It can be. but is its possible difficulties in that role why it is dismissed?
To be honest, practical innovations have rescued humanity from countless scrapes during the 5 million years since we diverged from the apes. But the exponential principle switches practical innovation, which has saved us so often, from vital rescue to deadly impasse surprisingly suddenly. I would like to think there a dawning recognition of this, but I doubt it.
I see the UBI not as a practical measure, but as something which enables a paradigm shift – it allows a mind set change to an acceptance of limits.
But I do wish my co-worker was right, and that my screaming did not feel so lonesome.