The trouble with complaining about rich people and government contributing to the climate crisis rather than helping is that the complaint is entirely correct.
It is extensively and emphatically correct, and it cannot become incorrect any time soon. Billionaires will act when they understand that they cannot resolve this by swinging around their power or by buying themselves a silver-bullet solution. But by that time, the processes underway will be way far down a chain of unacceptable destruction, and the availability of resources for a human response to all this is problematic, even in what appear to be the best scenarios.
We need to respond against government as it is and these large businesses. But to do that, we also badly need to take positive action.
- For-profit enterprise will not cease carving up the world for oil while everyone is paying at the pump.
- Elected officials will not turn away bribes when they are lucrative, nor ignore threats (to themselves personally) when these are dire, as we can document that they sometimes are.
- Business leaders will not turn away profit for reasons of sanity while sanity would remove them from their stations of power.
- And consumers will not cease burning hydrocarbons and wasting topsoil while we imagine that our food and our livelihoods depend on that.
After all, were we to all stop doing any of this tomorrow, abruptly, without any alternative system in place, that itself would kill off most of us, just because it would involve abandoning our means of support.
Positive action, then, requires building and operating alternatives, building to some point an alternate system or systems while the existing outmoded system is still in some sense and to some extent functional. To whatever extent the new system is up and running, people can do much that is positive:
- With rain-catch and greywater in place, we can have clean water without paying Nestle.
- With residential and greenbelt gardens and farms, we can eat well without lots of hydrocarbon transport and without biocides
- With land-holding trusts, an old person can plant a tree with reasonable expectations that the grandchildren of his or her grandchildren shall sit in the shade and harvest the fruit. This can also involve a deal that will take care of elders and reduce the debt burden on young people, including young couples who should be devoting time to children.
- With stronger community units, more sophisticated aspects of global economy might eventually be supplanted, including education, communication, arts, crafts or manufacturing, and others.
Something very roughly and broadly like this has to happen because the existing system cannot respond to the problems that it has created.