Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/09/23/what-if-preventing-collapse-isnt-profitable
We need a transformative paradigm shift, and population is part of it, but “population control” has a racist and classist lineage that can’t be ignored if justice is to be truly served.
Delighted to hear Richard Heinberg mention Henry George, and extending his principles of “land” ownership to all natural resources.
What I don’t see in Richard’s otherwise visionary writing is how to incorporate those principles, along with the pricing of externalities, into the economic system itself. Regulations, laws, and even constitutional dictates are all political beasts, and we all know (or should know by now) that such can never be tamed!
Here is the problem with the maximize the GDP mentality:
Say I want a dozen eggs. I could drive to the store and buy a dozen eggs and return home. Or I could take twelve trips to the store buying an egg on each trip. That way I would use more fuel and contribute more to the GDP. It’s a stupid system at its core, but it has a lot of Propaganda [Edward Bernays (1928)].
Not every solution would necessarily imply sacrifice. I don’t get why more people aren’t jumping at the opportunity to reshape our cities. My city is basically unlivable. Making it more livable would be a win win, both for human relations and for the planet. You all should find things that work well where you live and do what makes sense though. Not everything that I think is feasible would be feasible for everyone across the country.
People take for granted that land has an arbitrary price, to balance supply and demand. But putting fluxuating prices on land, while seemingly reasonable, just drives up the cost of living, which requires people to work more. All to pay for a patch of dirt that often has no value added to it up front when you buy it.
So, what would actually be required to stop the bleeding?
Richard, you entirely missed the real iggy biggy, sir!
Take animals off the menu. Humans evolved to outgrow cannibalism and live humans sacrifices, but, not the eating of flesh and other animal by-products. We have developed these enormous addictions to pleasure and junk food. Animal industries know this, building on that little dopamine pleasure hit to the brain senses every time we eat sugar-laced cereals, etc, oil laced fried foods and salty appetizers, not to mention the taste of burning flesh.
As Leo Tolstoy stated in 1985 in his book: What I believe: “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields”.
Imagine a world…or how 'bout, just our common Annapolis Valley, here in NS, Canada, where, instead of growing animal feed grains we grew human food cereal crops? Idealistic? Maybe, but, these obese lifestyle diseases will not disappear on their own. Imagine Asia minor not growing palm oil plantations any longer, or the Amazon not growing soybeans? This will happen on its own with or without human intervention, since, current ploughing & tilled soil practices with the enormous dumping of chemicals, is fast destroying entire ecosystems.
On Richard’s tack about too large population growth; whose countries population is it that he wants to cull? The wicked West is tied to overconsumption. It is the west that has caused much of this current misery and now that promulgates the notion that there are too many folks treading on ‘their’ soil. Huh?! It is the west that exported Christianity, capitalism and neoliberal austerity. The western capitalists are now quite bankrupt of real ideas on how to continue. The starving East is just trying to get by and as far as that dopamine pleasure trap goes, they like sex too. Imagine that! hahaha
I’ve known 'bout Richard’s articles since 2006 during my time on Vancouver Is. He does get over the profit idea and motive correct, in that for humans to survive, the profit motive must die.
As Hazel Henderson is pushing…its about the SDGs…the GDPs regarding pulling humanity out of the tail spin of environmental degradation; the escalation of war, terrorism and pandemics; and transforming our human economic, transportation, energy and housing systems to mirror natural systems.
Check out “Bringing Nature Home” by Doug Tallamy or just watch one of his YouTube videos (Hope for the Wild 2019 - Doug Tallamy)…our yards and gardens can contribute greatly to reversing species extinction (birds, butterflies, and eventually humans), sequestering carbon, improving your health (mental and physical), protecting water and air quality…). Most today are sterile of any natural plants and make matters worse when Non-native invasive plants are used…because they ‘look good’ instead of doing good, and are low maintenance…because they have no predictors or diseases in their ‘new’ environment.