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Prioritise growth, or prioritise life. We can’t do both

Climate change: Why aren’t we changing our lives to combat it? The National, Scotland, By Mairi McFadyen, –  WHETHER we want to admit it or not, climate breakdown is already upon us: there are record-breaking heat waves, flash floods, wildfires. Climate change does not cause all of these things to happen, it amplifies them. This is not happening in some far-off place, it is the weather where you are.

If we read the science and we acknowledge climate breakdown to be true, what is our response? What does it really mean to face up to our climate reality?…….

The reality is that “normal life” – a privilege we in the West have enjoyed for the past 70 years or so – cannot continue……..


IN the course of my adult lifetime, we could have stopped this. More than half of the carbon emitted through burning fossil fuels has happened in the past………

OVER the past year I have been working with a collective of activists called Enough!, a Scottish response to our global social, economic and ecological crises. We see that our current economic system and climate crisis are fundamentally linked. We see that inequality, oppression, injustice, power and ecological breakdown are all connected by the same story: that the economy must keep growing – no what matter what the cost.

The deep logic of capitalism is to grow more capital, achieved through the processes of exploitation, accumulation and extraction:

“We’re already taking far more than can be replaced and we can see the consequences all around us: climate change, deforestation, soil depletion, perpetual war, mass extinction of species. It has got so bad that we are threatening the very basis of all of life itself … We have a choice to make: prioritise growth, or prioritise life. We can’t do both.”


Any climate action must therefore challenge and prefigure alternatives to economic growth. If we don’t, our economy will be our endgame.

Mainstream approaches to climate solutions, however, have been based on maintaining current economic systems.

Policymakers have responded by advocating “sustainable growth” or “green growth” – the idea that we can somehow keep growing our economy while simultaneously reducing our impact by “decoupling” GDP from the use of natural resources.

A new report published this month by Make EuropeSustainable for All (MESA) concludes that there is no empirical basis for this approach. It is impossible.

If we are serious about the climate, our only option now is to degrow. We need to explore new economic models that undercut the drivers of growth and find new ways of measuring progress and wellbeing. We need to discuss caps on resource use, tradable energy quotas and targeted downscaling of specific industries.

The kind of transformation that is called for is much more radical than a large-scale decarbonisation and conversion to renewable energy, as many imagine. It’s about radically relocalising, drastically reducing the amount of transportation of goods and people around the world, changing our approach to agriculture and much, much more………..

July 15, 2019 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

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