So we are familiar with descriptions of climate change and the likely or possible consequences of raised levels of ‘warming’ gasses. We have heard the conclusions of various scientific disciplines and heard the social/philosophical musings of the likes of Suzuki. And that’s all good, because viewing a problem through multiple lenses offers the possibility of broader, better informed understandings.
But when it comes to what can be done, possible prescriptions are limited by the singular use of an economic lens. To be clear, generally disseminated prescriptions aren’t just economic, but are predicated on retaining market or command economies as the management mechanisms for production and distribution (consumption).
Consider the centrality of the economic rationales that necessitate NZ developing a climatically destructive dairy industry and how the primacy of economic reasoning remains fundamentally unchallenged. There are no human reasons (as far as I can ascertain) for NZ to be indulging in an export orientated dairy industry (and many human reasons for desisting in the drive to encourage dairy consumption in China, Korea and elsewhere), but that non-economic reasoning is not allowed to enter into the debate.
This narrowing of focus, which is essentially a very effective and deadly smokescreen, is partly maintained by the constant referral to climate change as the principle problem. So the market mechanisms that drive our industrial production, that in turn produces the waste that drives climate change, remains beyond the bounds of scrutiny.
Worse, they (market mechanisms) become relied on as the only source of possible solutions.
So we are fobbed off with carbon trading schemes and carbon taxes, fantasies of carbon capture and geo-engineering, how it’s all the fault of the promiscuous poor and finally regaled with the need to be discerning consumers. The advertising industry exists, afterall to demand products of industry and not as you might have previously believed, to create consumer demand for industries products. As such, the market will be preserved and as impacted by discerning consumer demands, will see us right.
Meaning that there can be no sensible question of entertaining such anti-market initiatives as returning ownership of the planet’s resources to the commons. Which in turn means that there can be no sensible question of bringing production and consumption under democratic control. The only sensible questions are ones surrounding the preservation and perpetuation of financial profit.
I suspect many of us might be tempted to exonerate ourselves to a degree by passively, cynically or intellectually noting that the fox is maintaining it’s position vis a vis the hen house, or that OJ is in charge of the crime scene or that the paedophile is running the crèche.
But far too damned few of us are being honest enough to acknowledge that as Nero fiddles we are applauding appreciatively.