02 June 2007

Cutting carbon emissions will give immediate benefits.

Success in a capitalist world is effectively measured by the size of your carbon footprint. The richer you are - the higher your carbon emissions. Until we factor in these environmental costs into the prices people pay then nothing much will change.

While Peter Wilby (see also here) is right to say that we are doing far too little, far too late to stop global warming, he is wrong to say it is short-termism that is the problem.

The problem is, that the majority of people who would benefit from a reduction in emissions are being kept from power (by undemocratic means - media propaganda, distortive electoral systems and corruption)- it is the poorest sectors of society that suffer the most from a poisoned environment (has anyone ever wondered why most of the affluent regions in the UK are in the south-west of conurbations? Think of the predominant wind direction). We should be improving our environment for its own sake - not because of some possible future armaggeddon.

In fact global warming is a bit of a distraction when it comes to improving the environment. This concentration on the issue of global warming is because this is the only issue that can make the wealthy sit up and listen. And it is the wealthy who have all the power to make the changes necessary. The problem is not that the benefits of reducing emissions are too far in the future, the problem is, that to really reduce emissions requires a more equitable distribution of resources and quality of life - the rich who are in power find this most unpalatable.

The single biggest problem in reducing emissions is population growth (countries with falling populations should celebrate), the the best way to reduce this growth is to have more equitable societies with supportive welfare states - the poor have less children the better educated they become and the more they feel financially secure.

One way or another there is going to be a dramatic reduction in population - we either try to manage it with massive redistribution of resources or we take the chaos of migration and mass starvation that will ensue. It seems the rich and powerful have taken the decision to go for the latter option (and hope for the best).

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