I have watched with some interest, some amusement, and some disgust the commentary around the speech by Greta Thunberg at the United Nations (see below for YouTube Link and full transcript). What she had to say was horrific in the context of climate change, and the way that the climate change sceptics in politics and the media went after her, playing the man, not the ball was disgusting. I don’t really want to tackle client change here. It is a big topic and I have not un-packaged enough of my thoughts on the subject to feel comfortable discussing it.
The reason that a quote from that speech appears in this blog is because of the visceral response I felt when I heard the words
“We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth”
More specifically “all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth”
That is so beautifully put, “fairy tales of eternal economic growth”
When I had such a strong response to that statement, it was not from the Climate Change / Extinction point of view, which at a species level is what we need to be concerned about. I was more thinking about the impact on individuals, and societies.
We live in a world now, where materialistically, we have never been better off. Yet rates of dissatisfaction, depression, anxiety and suicide are at levels never seen before. We have more than we have ever had before, but it seems that unless you have more tomorrow than you had today, you are miserable. What is it about always wanting a better car, a bigger house, a better job, more money. Why can’t people just be satisfied with what they have today? This is similar to governments obsessing with eternal economic growth. They are trying to feed this need to always have more, to encourage people to over-consume, to stimulate demand, to increase GDP, to maintain economic growth. For what purpose?
They call a lack of economic growth a recession. If it goes on for too long, a depression. But who decided that economic growth is good, and negative growth is bad? I’ve always been overweight, and have always been praised for losing weight. A good friend of mind has always been very lean, and has always been encouraged to put on weight. Who decides if it is good to lose weight, or put it on? Who decided if it was good for the economy to grow, or to contract? I feel like the economy is very overweight, and keeps wanting to put on weight. I’d call that gluttony.
Agent Smith in the Matrix put it really well:
“I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realised that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern: a virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure.”
See below for youtube link to Agent Smith at his best. Hugo Weaving does the best bad guys!
This blog post is interestinghttps://blog.arocha.org/en/are-humans-the-virus-species/
It can’t be sustainable. Our government’s are obsessed with maintaining economic growth. They have convinced the population that there must be economic growth, but what happens when a person realises that they are not better off? I think the greatest fear people have today is not of loss. It is that they will not be better off tomorrow, and this is incredibly sad, because it means that they are destined to always strive, and therefore never be content or at peace.
I remember watching the excellent documentary Inside Job (2010) narrated by Matt Damon. It made me realise how obsessed a large part of the population has become with money. The idea of the stock market WAS good. People invest money in companies, to give them working capital so they can produce goods and services that society needs to function, in exchange for a return on that investment. I’d love to know these days how many people see the stock market in this way. What percentage of the money moving through the markets actually ends up as working capital. People don’t invest anymore. They trade. They want the quick money, to buy and sell. Not to invest. This has got to ridiculous levels with micro-trading. I don’t know what a company is supposed to do with the money when they only have it for a fraction of a second. And derivatives trading……what a joke. People make money from this…..lots of money. But where is the money coming from? It is being removed from working capital, to make billionaires richer.
Look at all of the industries that have been ruined by money (the need to make money). Our food for one. How can we make it cheaper and sell it for more? High fructose corn syrup, genetically modified wheat that crops 4 times a year, but half the population is allergic to it? All in the name of profit. Not feeding the population.
Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals. It used to be about making people better. Now it’s about making money.
I’m sure there are many more.
I need to wind this rant up, so in closing, can anyone answer the questions
Why is living within our means so terrifying?
How much is enough?
How different would the world be is we only consumed to the level of comfort?
If we had houses big enough to sleep in comfort, but no bigger.
If we had cars big enough to move our family around but no bigger
If we did away with the third car
Down graded the second car to a smaller car
Downgraded the first car from a SUV to a sedan
Didn’t buy the jet ski
Or the caravan
Or the boat
You get the idea!
Full transcript of Greata Thunberg Speech.
My message is that we’ll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius], and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist.So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise — the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] — the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons.How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just “business as usual” and some technical solutions? With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than eight and a half years.There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.Thank you.
Great Thunberg Youtube Video
Agent Smith from the Matrix