Posted by steve on March 16, 2009
(Thanks to Paul Heft and Dave Pollard for contributing sections of this article via e-mail conversations.)
The New Scientist magazine, I believe, is an indicator for how those of us with a scientific bent (I see myself as one of them, despite my sojourn in business the last few decades) are thinking:
The article “How the economy is killing the planet” is one of them http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026786.000-special-report-how-our-economy-is-killing-the-earth.html
Earth may be entering climate change danger zone
Sea level rise could bust IPCC estimates
Lastly, hacking the planet, the only solution left
These headings reflect the view of the science community: that climate change has gone into unacceptable risk, that the economic system is at the root of it, and that geoengineering is a serious option.
The schism between the scientific community and the economic one has gone so far that scientists, unable to communicate the risks, downsides and just plain nonsense of ”business as usual” are desperately turning to look at re-engineering the planet rather than adapting society to it.
I am scared of geoengineering, just as I am scared of genetic modification, nanotechnology, and nuclear energy. The unintended side effects could be huge. The book “the Black Swan” has demonstrated how events totally unforeseen can change whole endeavors for the worse.
Instead of helping business as usual and prolonging the inevitable, another path could be considered, It is just as risky but might be easier. Let the economy crash–since it’s happening anyway. That might wipe out some of the parties interesting in maintaining our “non-negotiable” way of life. There’s a chance that people will decide that the only way to continue forward is to drastically reorganize the economy (at a lower level), thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (Of course whether that’s done along the lines of relocalization, fascism, or just chaos is a roll of the dice.)
But what does it mean that non-scientists are behaving in this way? (We biologists always look at behaviour nowadays after centuries of killing things and dissecting them)
Observed behavior: Despite evidence that end of oil means end of economic growth, despite evidence that the economic system is killing the planet, despite evidence that the market system of today is an abject failure at feeding the world, let alone providing a life in dignity, world leaders insist on taking measures to try to get it to work.
What follows are my darkest fears:
The OTHER explanation is that there is a master plan. Those whose job it is to “pretend” to fix the system have been promised jobs later, depending on how well they “perform” now.
Imagine the ”order from high”: Let the whole thing implode. Help it along with government loans, especially to failing and corrupt businesses. Prepare to release an abrupt about swing via the media that makes sure that people understand, once and for all;
1) economic growth is not possible in a finite world and that economists just simply got it wrong (let them go on spouting their theories so they give themselves enough rope to hang themselves with.)
2) corporations are NOT good for the common good. In good times they take all profits and in bad times they ask for handouts and use them for high salaries. They are basically ”taking the piss” as we Brits say. Make sure people feel bluffed by highlighting a trusted banker’s ponzi scheme.
3) the basic idea of national democracy is flawed. You cannot vote for a Prime Minister who says British jobs for British workers one moment and then spouts free trade and globalisation the other
4) the nationalistic approach will never get people to agree on emission targets as they are all jostling to get the best deal. Governments HAVE to, they have been voted in for that.
As the realization comes clear, the message will be given with a dose of ”we are all complicit” in this as we all “wanted a share of the cake”. Everyone should feel bluffed, lied to and guilty.
A new idea will emerge that people will clamour for, just as they clamoured for a central US bank. Remember that the master plan is to get people to clamour for what the plan intends. So much more effective than trying to convince anyone anything…
World Government. A world minimum wage, world emissions rules, world currency. It might start with three regions in harmony: EU Americas and Asia. It will sound so good that in some countries it will be the left that clamours the most, in other countries, the right. In some it will be the environmentalists, in other business as they like ”a level playing field”; in some the humanitarians. After all, one sixth are nigh on starving.
The ones who control the money are the ones who end up with true power in this scenario. We know already what a farce the world bank is so we can all see where this is headed.
The attempt at One World Government (lefty Peter Singer wrote the book on it), will never succeed, because ultimately, for better and for worse, no one is really in control.
As the cascading crises worsen, especially when the real impact of the End of Oil and Water kicks in, we’re going to see more of the kind of alpha and non-alpha behaviours that Edward Hall describes in his work with rats in overcrowded situations in labs, specifically violent hoarding among the alphas and suicide and eating of the young among non-alphas. This is all hormonal chronic stress response stuff, what all creatures do when the normal short term responses to stress fail to alleviate the problem.
However, the real crisis is further off than we think, so for now we should be doing what we can and enjoying life and not worrying about what we can’t change. The real crisis will befall our grandchildren in the second half of the century, and coping with it will not be our job.