Global Warming

Left, Center and Right: We’re All in Denial About Climate Change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/09/2019 - 4:35am in

main article image The political left, center and right do share something in common in today’s polarized America: we’re all in denial. The first step in 12-step programs begins with admitting that you have a problem for a reason: you can’t tackle a challenge whose existence you refuse to acknowledge. “From a psychoanalytical viewpoint, denial is a pathological, ineffective defense mechanism,” doctors M.S. Vos and J.C. de Haes observed in their 2006 study of cancer patients. A stunning 47% of the patients they polled denied that they had cancer! Denial reduced their chances of seeking treatment and then following through.

 “On the other hand,” Vos and de Haes observed, “according to the stress and coping model, denial can be seen as an adaptive strategy to protect against overwhelming events and feelings.” Denial lets you feel better.

 We think of climate change denial as a right-wing phenomenon. Indeed, only 56% of Republicans accept the scientific consensus that the earth is heating up; fewer still believe that humans are responsible, compared to 92% of Democrats who agree with scientists.

 Those who deny that climate change is real are engaging in what psychologists call “simple denial.” But those on the left aren’t much better. Liberals who think global warming is real often resort to “transference denial”: they blame the right and corporate polluters even though we’re all responsible. The scale of the climate crisis and the level of sacrifice and disruption that would be necessary to mitigate it feels overwhelming. A widely-reported analysis predicted that human civilization will collapse in 30 years. Others say it’s already too late to save ourselves.

 “We’re doomed,” predicts Mayer Hillman, a senior fellow emeritus at University of Westminster’s Policy Studies Institute. “The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.”

  He’s probably right.

 Bernie Sanders recently proposed the most ambitious assault on greenhouse gas emissions ever floated in U.S. politics, a $16.3 trillion plan to transition out of carbon-based fuels by 2050. By that time, though, we’ll be dead.

 As aggressive as Sanders’ plan is, it doesn’t go nearly far enough or fast enough. Yet Republicans and some Democrats say it’s too expensive. No one in corporate media is taking Sanders’ idea seriously. It’s stillborn.

 Liberals post their concern to social media. Some even attend protest marches. But they’re hardly acting like we face an existential crisis.

 The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg told world leaders: “I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day and then I want you to act.”

 Panic? Our “leaders” don’t give a crap. They’re too bought and too stupid to act.

 The bird population in the U.S. has collapsed by 29%—a total of 2.9 billion fewer birds—over the last 50 years. During that same period we lost half the world’s fish. Insects are on the way out too. “No insects equals no food, [which] equals no people,” says Dino Martins, an entomologist at Kenya’s Mpala Research Centre.

 None of this should come as a surprise. We were warned. “The oceans are in danger of dying,” Jacques Cousteau said in 1970. Life in the oceans had diminished by 40 percent in the previous 20 years.

 If you really believe that the planet is becoming uninhabitable, if you think you are about to die, you don’t march peacefully through the streets holding signs and chanting slogans begging the corrupt scoundrels who haven’t done a damn thing for decades to wake up and do something. You identify the politicians and corporate leaders who are killing us, you track them down and you use whatever force is necessary to make them stop. Nothing less than regime change stands a chance of doing the job.

 Nothing else—the struggle for income equality, gun control, abortion—matters as much as attacking pollution and climate change.

 Anything short of revolution and the abolition of consumer capitalism is “minimizational denial“: admitting the problem while downplaying its severity. Anything short of a radical retooling of the global political system that establishes state control of the economy with environmental impact as our first, second and third priorities is a waste of time that dooms the human race to extinction.

 There is no middle ground, no splitting the difference, no compromise. “Good enough” isn’t good enough. Mere progress won’t cut it. Human survival is a pass-fail class. The final exam is tomorrow morning—early tomorrow morning.

 Time to get serious, godammit.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

 

Getting our priorities right. Our planet or our lives.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/09/2019 - 7:45pm in

This week’s MMT Lens will necessarily be shorter as GIMMS is gearing up for a busy few weeks in Brighton, London, Manchester and Leeds not to mention Wales at the beginning of October.

Before we move on, we’d like to tell you that we still have tickets for our two seminar events and Talk and Social.

If you are in or near Brighton on the 23rd September and would like to find out more about the Green New Deal and the Job Guarantee and how they can be paid for, follow the link to register for our free event.

We also have some tickets left for our free Training the Trainers Seminar in London on the 24th September which will look specifically at how to discuss the Green New Deal and the Job Guarantee.

We also have a few tickets left for our talk and social in Leeds on the 28th so again please follow the link to register.

 

 

Electronic sign with the slogan "End Climate Injustice" sited by a habour on a cloudy dayPhoto by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

 

“when 1500 scientists, including 100 Nobel Laureates, petitioned the world in 1995 that serious remedies were required to halt the destruction of the living fabric of the Earth, their warning was ignored. Had it been 1500 economists warning of a stock market crash it would have got banner headlines and emergency government action.”

Robert James Brown – Optimism: Reflections on a Life of Action

 

It was probably impossible not to be aware of the two astonishing interviews that took place this week with the former Prime Minister David Cameron and one of his former coalition partners Jo Swinson who is now the leader of the Liberal Democrats. Swinson, a graduate from the London School of Economics and Cameron, who graduated from Oxford with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, displayed astonishing indifference to the consequences of austerity.

It was difficult not to be angry at Cameron’s lack of remorse or his regret that he wished he had implemented austerity harder and faster. Equally shameful was his claim that the strategy had worked and that it had been done in a fair and reasonable manner. As our social fabric and public infrastructure continues to unravel and citizens endure the consequences of cuts to public spending which have affected every corner of society and its public institutions, one has to wonder where he’s been hiding all this time.

His partner in the crime of austerity was equally unabashed about her contribution to the devastation caused by government cuts and intimated she’d not only be prepared to do it again, but also that the Liberal Democrats would be willing to cosy up to the Tories in coalition if and when necessary.

Taking a combative stance about government’s spending plans, she referred to the ‘magic money tree’ and criticised the government on the basis that they had given no indication about how they were going to pay for them. In her interview she said, without a hint of shame for supporting austerity, ‘sometimes it’s about making tough choices and about recognising where you had to make taxation and spending decisions’. This criticism of the loosening of the government’s purse strings (for what that is worth) is all the more puzzling given her promises on the enormous challenge of tackling climate change which surely will involve some government spending to achieve.

How shallow and self-interested our politicians have become. The ping pong game played about who can be more fiscally responsible has continued remorselessly, without a moment’s regard for those who have been hurt by it. Liam Byrne’s note left in the Treasury that there was ‘no money left’ has a lot to answer for. It gave the Tories just the narrative they needed to invoke household budget narratives and fear of deficits and debt, whilst suggesting that the government could go bankrupt without cuts to public spending.

It gave them licence to implement cuts to public services, reform welfare and sell off more of our public infrastructure. Some claim that this debt rhetoric was nothing less than economic illiteracy. However, one might also make the case for it being the perfect opportunity for the Conservatives to deliver a right-wing agenda aimed at diminishing the role of the state, shifting the burden onto citizens as agents of their own fate and operating as an agent of corporate welfare through pouring public money into serving private profit. The austerity lie has been the perfect cover for dismantling our public infrastructure and driving market solutions in its place.  And we all fell for it because we were taken in by false household budget narratives about how governments spend.

The MMT Lens has covered the price of austerity many times over the past year. The cold statistics on homelessness and people using food banks, the rises in poverty, the increasing waiting lists in NHS hospitals for life threatening diseases and the consequences of welfare reform all translate into the lives of real people whose existence has been shattered by cuts to public spending. When politicians coldly and without emotion indicate that they would do it again, it isn’t any wonder that people living with the consequences of a broken capitalist system have lost confidence in politics and in politicians to improve their lives. It isn’t any wonder that we are witnessing a rise in extreme right-wing politicians who cynically feed hate and division with the illusion that the problem lies with outsiders and immigrants and that they alone can protect the working class.

What is left if politicians have abandoned democracy to stuff the pockets of corporations, and their own, with public money whilst serving their own interests? What is left if they reject the only solutions that could bring about the radical change needed to address climate change and rising poverty and inequality? For too long, fiscal rules related to budget deficits and debt have dominated the spending decisions made by governments in their quest for the false holy grail of balanced budgets or surpluses. Heads have been buried in the sand as the consequences have rolled out on people’s lives and injustice prevails.

Monetary policy has run out of steam (if it ever had any at all) and fiscal policy is all that is now open to governments around the world if we are to face the stark facts and act. We must reject the narratives which ask how such a challenge can be paid for, or those that suggest that the immoral wealth of the few can be commandeered to do so.  These ideas do not represent modern monetary realities. As Greta Thunberg said if we can bail out the banks, we can save the planet. Paying for stuff is as simple as a computer keystroke but requires the political will to do so.

The stakes are now very high. In fact, to be blunt, the stakes are our planet and the survival of future generations as GIMMS last two blogs have already discussed.

Looking on the positive side, which we must always do, we are beginning to see the inklings of change; while politicians prevaricate, it is our children and our grandchildren who are at the forefront of the challenge being posed to the established economic order.

Yesterday, there were extraordinary scenes across the world as millions of people from Sydney to London and New York marched for urgent action on climate breakdown. It is heartening.

Earlier this week in a speech to the US Congress Greta Thunberg summed up her views saying:

“Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it because it doesn’t lead to anything.  If you want advice for what you should do, invite scientists, ask scientists for their expertise. We don’t want to be heard. We want the science to be heard. I know you are trying but just not hard enough.”

 And that is the crux of the matter. We have sat on our hands for too long enjoying the fruits of the planet without thinking about the consequences. Politicians fond of soothing platitudes and empty promises keep us in line at the ballot box. Climate deniers in big corporations and institutions manipulate the facts or downright lie whilst continuing to exploit the resources that have brought some of us the comforts we enjoy. They do so with short term profits in mind rather than the long-term consequences to the planet and people.

 In its report published this week ‘The Cost of Doing Nothing’ The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reported on the escalating humanitarian cost of climate change and the consequences of failing to act.

It estimates that the climate crisis is leaving two million people a week needing aid as the extreme weather events batter communities with destructive force and cause inexcusable suffering and death. It also estimates in its most pessimistic scenario that the climate-related humanitarian costs could be as high as US$20bn by 2030 to deal with the aftermath of those afflicted by storms, floods and droughts.

The President of the IFRC, Francesco Rocca, said:

“These findings confirm the impact that climate change is having, and will continue to have, on some of the world’s most vulnerable people. It also demonstrates the strain that increasing climate-related disasters could place on aid agencies and donors.

The report shows the clear and frightening cost of doing nothing. But it also shows there is a chance to do something. But now is the time to take urgent action. By investing in climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction, including through efforts to improve early warning and anticipatory humanitarian action, the world can avoid a future marked by escalating suffering and ballooning humanitarian response costs,

It is sad to note given the time we have known about the threat of climate change, time that we wasted, we have reached a place where mitigation for our excesses becomes a solution. We need to do better than mitigation; we need to rethink the very basis upon which our societies function.

In another report published this week A Just(ice) Transition is a Post Extractive Transition the campaigning charity War on Want sets out to examine the social and ecological implications of climate change commitments to move towards renewable energy solutions.

It suggests that not only are those commitments in themselves weak and not enough to address the scale of the emissions problem, but that as we move away from fossil fuels the resource pressures will simply change as one is exchanged for another. This will cause yet more ecological damage and exacerbate the already existing inequalities and injustices arising out of further exploitation of metals and minerals in the Global South in order to deliver a Green New Deal in the Global North.

Those countries could yet again pay the damaging price for the Global North to perpetuate its love affair with growth, driving more inequality and pushing the planet beyond its ability to provide with ever more devastating consequences.

We don’t just need a Green New Deal, we need the will to deliver it in a way that brings social and economic justice for all, wherever they are on the planet. We must ensure that our shift towards sustainable economies is inclusive. We must reject a model that prioritises the wants and desires of the West at the expense of those who are exploited to provide them. As rich nations, we will need to consider ending our economic privilege in terms of the distribution of real resources and work cooperatively to deliver a steady-state global economy.

 

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The post Getting our priorities right. Our planet or our lives. appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Why Degrowth Is the Only Responsible Way Forward

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/09/2019 - 5:49pm in

Why degrowth is necessary and potentially attractive.

Urgent Culture For A Foot-Dragging Congress

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/09/2019 - 5:19pm in

A climate change museum tour for Congress.

What is the Theory of Change in Naomi Klein’s “On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal”?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/09/2019 - 5:25am in

Why is there no Green New Deal already? And what should we do to get one?

Axios: What’s the Actual Cost of Not Addressing Climate Change?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/09/2019 - 4:03pm in

bunking some arguments against Sanders' climate change program.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Face 7 Hours of Tough Questions on Climate Change, From Fracking to Fossil Fuels

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:55pm in

CNN hosts seven hour town hall with Democratic presidential candidates on climate change: recap of key exchanges.

Take the (Night) Train Redux

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 3:55am in

My recent trip on the night train from High Point, North Carolina, to NYC.

One Very Bad Habit Is Fueling the Global Recycling Meltdown

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 07/09/2019 - 6:55pm in

The well-meaning are engaging in ‘wishcycling’ - opting to place objects in the recycling bin that don’t belong.

Trump Seeks to Revoke California Emissions Waiver

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/09/2019 - 8:50pm in

Trump looks to rollback California’s 1970 waiver under the Clean Air Act, which allowed the state to set emissions standards.

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