---------- Forwarded Message ----------
On an Environmentally Collapsing, Poverty Racked Planet, the
Disease that is Economic Growth
Earth Meanders, http://earthmeanders.blogspot.com/
By Dr. Glen Barry
February 8, 2007
Environmental sustainability and abject poverty are the issues
of our and all time, the resolution of which will either save
the Earth and relatively civilized society, or continued neglect
lead to global ecological and social collapse. The big lies
underlying ecological crises and wealth inequities are that
economic growth will solve these problems, is endless, and is
always desirable. Corporation's and government's emphasis upon
exponential economic growth in a finite biosphere is the disease
destroying the Earth.
In a growth driven capitalist market economy, there can never be
such a thing as "Sustainable Growth". It is time to dust off the
Club of Rome's findings in the 1970s, and acknowledge that
limits to growth have been put off by technology, not
eliminated. How can we speak of sustainable growth when the
economic system is not even sustaining large portions of the
world's population that now lives in utterly miserable poverty?
We are well into the disintegration of the biosphere and human
habitat as a result of policies promoting unfettered economic
growth at the exclusion of virtually all other values.
How grotesque that some shall live the life of opulent splendor
gluttonously consuming while most wither in abject hunger and
despair. I am stunned at humanity's - and particularly the rich,
powerful and celebrity types' - inability to see the big
picture. Nearly half of the world is living in grinding poverty
polluting little while about 20% consume exorbitantly destroying
the Planet's biosphere. It is like a disturbing Alice in
wonderland world - Africa starves, suffers wars, murder and
rape; while we in the North overfeed and entertain ourselves
while shitting our pollution on the poor.
Global inequities are obscene. How much longer will the have-
nots sit passively by watching the good life of democratic
consumption from which they are excluded? Why can't anyone tell
the Americans and Europeans they must have less? The greatest
threat to the American way of life is that it is not able to be
universalized. Rich North and poor South conflict is inevitable.
Have you ever spent time with a family living on $1 a day? About
a billion people find themselves in this situation. Where
subsistence is still possible people are fed and housed, but
there is no room for error. Finding potable water and firewood
are a constant struggle. No fancy health care, leisure, travel
or electronic toys. Just a grinding struggle to survive as the
population grows and the environment continues to deteriorate.
Soon this will be the human norm.
The global food supply is near the breaking point. The world is
now eating more food than farmers grow, pushing global grain
stocks to their lowest level in 30 years. Oceans are overfished.
Hunger is already a stark and painful reality for more than 850
million people, including 300 million children. In a world of
starvation, the rich are starting to drive themselves around
powered by food (biofuels) that could have gone to the poor.
Capitalism will evolve to emphasize a steady state economy and
protection and renewal of natural capital - limiting production
and consumption to natural systems' constraints - or it will
continue ecocidal eating of life giving ecological systems to
power a growing wasteful throw away society. The cycle of ever
more energy needed to support growing populations all aspiring
to consume like a fat ass America must be broken.
Market fundamentalism must be challenged. The failure of markets
to place a price upon carbon causes climate change. Widening
gaps in income threaten social harmony. The inequalities are
grotesque, and the degree of blame for climate change,
deforestation and other environmental crises skewed towards the
rich. I am stunned. Sickened. We gotta rise up, rise up.
Stabilization of climate change and global ecological
sustainability will never be achieved without sharp reductions
in economic disparities between the Earth's peoples. Strictly
speaking it is too late to achieve global ecological
sustainability - where natural ecosystems operate as they have.
Yet we must work to bring human populations and aspirations back
into a reasonable balance with ecological systems in order that
humanity and the Earth have any future at all. In order that all
have enough to meet basic needs, and a biosphere to house
themselves and others, there needs to be less of us and less
disparity. This will require massively reducing carbon emissions
now, cutting population by three quarters, and by necessity
bringing the Earthly garden into our care with massive protected
areas and widespread regional scale ecological restoration.
There are different ways of showing love, and love is more than
between two people or a family. Do you love your Earthly home
habitat and the human and other species' families with which we
share it? I suggest more love of being and less of you. I am
opinionated as hell, but even I do not fully know how we are
going to feed, house and clothe the world while shrinking its
population, repairing planetary ecosystems and learning to live
sustainably. But I do know that we must try.
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