There is massive entrenched economic, social and psychological inertia which IMO will finally prevent our leadership class from successfully addressing issues of climate change, environmental degradation and fossil fuel depletion.
Like dumping the CGT, virtually all of our politicians and corporate leaders are personally better off doing it this way because they are so invested in the benefits and privileges provided to them by the status quo.
The best result we can hope for is a kind of last minute, chaotic, ad hoc, tactical response when it finally dawns upon the leadership class (and their professional upper middle class enablers) that there is a real problem and that a substantial something – other than trying to prop up and protect current increasingly unworkable economic arrangements – needs to be urgently done.
I figure that moment is still about ten or twelve years away, though. Between now and then we’ll keep pretending that carbon taxes, emission trading schemes, gigabit internet, more cycleways and tax payer subsidies for electric cars will make a difference to our overall trajectory as a civilisation.
During this time we’re also going to be bombarded with various tech led visions of what John Michael Greer the Archdruid calls the “Ecotopian Future.” Whether its the Green Party showing off electric cars or Rifkin talking about a high tech eco revolution which will transform all of our lives, the common factor is going to be the fact that the bottom 90% of people on this planet are going to look at the glossy brochures full of beautiful shiny people and decide that it is an irrelevant fantasy of pleasant abstractions concocted by (a shrinking) establishment class enjoying much higher and more secure incomes, status and free time than they have.
And yet, the psychological and cultural pressure to believe that mankind’s cleverness and technology will eventually triumph over Mother Nature is all pervasive.
It took a while for me to realize that the people who were engaged in this bizarre sort of nonresponse understood perfectly well what I was talking about. They knew at least as well as I did that the internet is the most gargantuan technostructure in the history of our species, a vast, sprawling, unimaginably costly, and hopelessly unsustainable energy- and resource-devouring behemoth that survives only because a significant fraction of the world’s total economic activity goes directly and indirectly toward its upkeep. They knew about the slave-worked open pit mines, the vast grim factories run by sweatshop labor, and the countless belching smokestacks that feed its ravenous appetite for hardware and power; they also know about the constellations of data centers scattered across the world that keep it running, each of which uses as much energy as a small city, and each of which has to have one semi-truck after another pull up to the loading dock every single day to offload pallets of brand new hard drives and other hardware, in order to replace those that will burn out the next day…
I long ago lost track of the number of people I’ve heard talk nostalgically about what I tend to call the Ecotopian future, the default vision of a green tomorrow that infests most minds on the leftward end of things. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last forty years, you already know every detail of the Ecotopian future. It’s the place where wind turbines and solar panels power everything, everyone commutes by bicycle from their earth-sheltered suburban homes to their LEED-certified urban workplaces, everything is recycled, and social problems have all been solved because everybody, without exception, has come to embrace the ideas and attitudes currently found among upper-middle-class San Francisco liberals.
Our politicians, political parties and especially the very influential Deep State are primarily creatures (and beneficiaries) of the status quo. Any change they enact is going to be change which maintains their privilege in the system, not change which undermines it.
And I very much doubt the future that we are facing, and especially that Kiwi kids currently in primary school are facing, is going to resemble anything like an ‘Ecotopian’ one.
I wonder how many of the 300,000 children living in poverty in NZ can access gigabit internet. What an exciting game changer its going to be for those lives, eh.