Table of Contents
- Start Here
- Spaceship Earth
- Hot Topics
- Climate Science
- Climate Restoration
“A host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result from widespread economic security.” – Martin Luther King
Climate Disruption, Inequity and Injustice
Do you feel trapped (video)? The daunting math of climate change means that in the next 12 years, climate change impacts could push another 100 million people into extreme poverty. Climate change and poverty are a process and a condition that are interrelated. We cannot forget that while climate change affects the natural environment, it also affects human life. Climate change increases poverty rates globally. Increased poverty means increased war, crime, violence, famine and disease. These, in turn, impact species survival on a massive scale.
Both reducing climate change impacts and poverty are two of the defining issues of the 21st century in trying to achieve sustainable development; they are also intrinsically linked says Elisa Jiménez Alonso of Acclimatse News. Furthermore, she explains that, currently climate change acts as a main barrier for the eradication of poverty. Limited opportunities and disenfranchisement feed into the multiple dimensions of inequality and add another layer of complexity to the already wickedly complicated task that is managing climate risks. However, failing to account for inequalities and their inter-linkages with climate change can lead to their reinforcement and exacerbation.
According to this Forbes article, global poverty and climate change must be solved together. The article further states that “developed nations, particularly the United States, should make strenuous efforts to support developing nations’ transition to sustainable prosperity, including the provision of financial assistance to enable them to deploy the necessary infrastructure in sufficient quantity.”
Researchers trying to solve this problem warn that in order to achieve sustainable equality, development will have to be rapid and inclusive. This means taking targeted action to help people cope with climate shocks – such as developing early warning systems and flood protection, and introducing heat-resistant crops. At the same time, proactive efforts to reduce emissions should accelerate and be designed to protect the poor.
Solving global poverty and ending world hunger also means implementing progressive and proactive social policies that include providing social safety nets like universal health coverage, education, and basic income. Investments in this regard would bring prosperity to diverse populations who could then choose to protect instead of capitalize on and thus, cannibalize the biosphere.
Utopia for Realists
Groundbreaking historian and author of Utopia for Realists, Rutger Bregman (video), expounds on the problem of inequity from a modern humanist perspective. Bregman provides expert analysis. He also discusses much sought after evidence-based remedies to this complex quandary which, as he reminds us all, should have already been resolved in modern times. Contrary to the predictions of mid-twentieth-century economists, the age of universal well-being has not really materialized.
The fact that we are so far from the long touted goals of an enlightened age shows how far human social systems are from truly achieving modernization. Rather, on closer examination it is clear that despite all our advances as a global society, we are still living in cruel and unnecessary ways. We are largely carrying on as past primitives, the victims of progress, and the soldiers of fear and fortune in war torn lands. We have yet to live as future primitives.
According to Bloomsbury, “Rutger Bregman shows that we can construct a society with visionary ideas that are, in fact, wholly implementable. Every milestone of civilization – from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy – was once considered a utopian fantasy. New utopian ideas such as universal basic income and a 15-hour work week can become reality in our lifetime. This guide to a revolutionary yet achievable utopia is supported by multiple studies, lively anecdotes and numerous success stories.”
In the following video lecture, Rutger Bregman introduces the concept of utopia for realists and contends that simple social programs that we cannot afford not to implement now like universal basic income, universal healthcare and education and shorter workweeks, could help reduce global corporate disasters, combat climate change, make the genders and races more equal, and obviate the need for what Anthropologist David Graeber calls “BS jobs” that harm the planet unnecessarily. In fact, many are now concluding that “Corporate jobs may finish-off humans way before Climate Change does!”
Other theorists, such as Jacque Fresco a classical futuristic visionary, discussed a world without money and the practical aspects of how this type of society would function. Fresco wrote and lectured on his views on a resource-based society, sustainable cities, energy efficiency, natural-resource management, cybernetic technology, automation, and the role of science in society.
In order to get beyond the social injustice that is inextricably tied to the climate injustice we now face, we must curtail the suffering we are ignobly perpetuating today. To achieve this, forward thinking change leaders advise putting in place an ecological economy, demonetizing and implementing universal social programs that support each and every life. Widespread insecurity and radical inequity can and must be remedied. Policies and provisions must be prosperous, sensible and supportive of one and all. We must begin to see the interlocking pieces of Spaceship Earth from a gestalt perspective as inextricably tied together. Otherwise, as we well know, we are fast approaching disaster and even extinction in the Anthropocene epoch.
After all, as Director of Scientists’ Warning Stuart Scott says, “you can’t eat money.” In the following video with Stuart Scott and Graeme Maxton, the traps inherent in our business as usual growth economy are clearly outlined.
Cycles of Cynicism and Ignorance
American zombie politics has been called cynical and uninformed, as well as full of bad ideas that just keep coming back from the dead. It is well-known that most societies promote propaganda that serve their monetary and other interests as mechanisms of control, suppression and dominance. Tactical framing (video) and obsession with strategy over best practices results in a spiral of cynicism. Combined with manufactured consent this quickly becomes a powerful and addictive intoxicant in a fascist corporate totalitarian state.
Our current approach to social understanding through these mechanisms is spread by news media and research shows it makes people more cynical, and at the same time, less informed about big policy issues. The result is a cycle of partisanship and ignorance, where solutions to big problems like climate change, social justice issues, and even health care decisions are judged on their political popularity rather than their merit.
Mired in BS Jobs, illusions of endless growth, inaction and defeatism our current social system is threatening a massive collapse. As a global species, we have come to delude ourselves into thinking that we are all powerful, but we must remember that even Rome fell, as all great civilizations that cannot adapt eventually do.
Preemptive Right Action Costs Less Than Unmitigated Disaster
Want to get rid of poverty, lessen inequality and provide financial stability in a world of precarious work? Well, why not simply give everyone enough money to ensure basic sustenance, and provide medicare and education for all.
The world’s wealthiest and most elite argue that society and governments cannot afford social programs that would universally educate, allow access to medical care for all, and provide the dignity of a living wage, let alone a basic income. Ironically the morbidly wealthy call these programs elitist (video) in a sociopathic blame shifting attempt at reversal that works because people believe them. Unfortunately, research shows that most people lack the skills for differentiating predatory misinformation from factual information. This has real-world consequences.
These false arguments perpetuated by fossil fuel interests and elite leaders have left millions of people worldwide in various states of desperation and degradation. This crime against humanity (video) has resulted in costly social problems such as famine, crime, violence, war, pollution and ecological disaster that we all ultimately pay more for, even though these are written off as externalities. However, elite world leaders and wealth holders continue to spend relentlessly on regime change wars, nuclear proliferation, defense, and subsidies for oil oligarchs as well as for other corporations that no longer serve society or the biosphere.
These elite leaders are addicted to the game of monopoly. They are also overspending by the trillions to keep business as usual (BAU) going. They continue this despite the fact that capitalism has now hit its solid limits (video) and is destroying our habitat while sending 200 species a day to extinction. Journalist George Monbiot (video) recently said in an eXtinction Rebellion planning session that “we are a society of altruists being run by sociopaths.” Additionally, these so called elite leaders are lying to us in order to keep their habit going, to keep populations enslaved, and to continue a way of life that has already failed.
In fact, medicare for all is less expensive than the health system we have in place now in the US, which is more predatory than beneficial. Most pay for the promise of services they will never receive. The cost of universal basic income is far less as well at just $175bn, a fraction of our current defense spending which is now inching toward the $1tn mark. Instead, we are paying billions in government assistance that most never receive because of the costly and predatory burden of a bureaucracy that extracts benefits for itself and leaves almost nothing for those its meant to serve.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Yale Climate Connections says that “the last 50 years, since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, have seen the rise of environmentalism and the subsequent evolution of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Further, according to Investopedia, when social responsibility is recognized as part of a company’s business model, it can attract positive publicity, help attract and retain top talent, and improve relationships with customers and their communities.
However, we are still far from achieving CSR at a level the would surpass greenwashing, and achieve results like actually reducing emissions. In the current framework, elite winners take all (video) while all other life suffers. According to this study, just 100 corporations are responsible for over 71% of carbon emissions now known to be destroying the biosphere. The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, could end world hunger and still be a billionaire. Yet despite these already gaping inequities, many of the world’s wealthiest companies and their CEOs do not even pay taxes. They are protected by tax shelters and large subsidies.
Last month Dutch historian Rutger Bregman told the billionaires at the World Economic Forum in Davos they should think less about philanthropy and instead pay more tax. The clip of his speech went viral. He argues his point with Ed Conard, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of the book The Upside of Inequality.
Forward Thinking Future Planning
Today’s smart cities and some countries like Bhutan (video) (which is carbon negative, non-violent, socially responsible, and sustainable already) are combating climate challenges with solutions years ahead of the curve.
These solutions: improve lives, reach financial goals, spend and save smarter, access clean water, light the way, challenge perceptions. decarbonize, and plan for success. Reducing emissions of methane, black carbon, and other short-lived climate pollutants is critical to poverty alleviation and development, and finding a path to ecological economy which could also with a circular, doughnut, or steady state model that engenders degrowth.
The New School is actively working with policy analysts, academics, and experts on the relationship between growing inequality and climate change and the path to a sustainable solution. Globalization and economic policies such as deregulation, free capital flows, and austerity, are perceived to have increased inequality.
The New School seeks policies to mitigate change and its consequences, such as disasters and damages, also pose a challenge to equity and fairness for national economies. In the following video lecture they address these questions: how can we design policies to foster globalization and tackle climate change in a way that is inclusive and sustainable? How can we overcome cognitive barriers to adoption of policies for the common good?
Climate change, or better stated climate crisis, is intimately tied with social justice or lack thereof. We will not have climate justice without social justice. Nearly a million people could fall back into extreme poverty due to climate change. The poorest among us always suffer disproportionately to the wealthiest among us. We have an a moral obligation to mitigate the worst impacts of this where possible. Meaningful and sustainable actions and policies will only be achieved if they take into account and overcome poverty and other inequalities.
- Acclimatise News (2017). Poverty and climate change are intrinsically linked. Retrieved from http://www.acclimatise.uk.com/2017/10/12/poverty-and-climate-change-are-intrinsically-linked/
- Bodley, John (2008). Victims of progress. 5th Ed. AltaMira Press.
- Bregman, Rutger (2017). Utopia for realists. Little, Brown and Company.
- Diamond, Jared M. (2005). Guns, germs, and steel: the fates of human societies. New York: Norton.
- Forbes (2017). Climate change and global poverty can only be solved together. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2017/12/19/climate-change-and-global-poverty-can-only-be-solved-together/#106dc4557cde
- Fresco, Jacque (2012). The immaculate pig experiment. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20120306181818/http://www.tvpmagazine.com/2012/01/the-immaculate-pig-experiment-by-jacque-fresco/
- GFDRR (2015). Managing the impacts of climate change on poverty. Retrieved from https://www.gfdrr.org/en/feature-story/managing-impacts-climate-change-poverty
- NY Times (2017). Futurist Jacque Fresco envisioned a society without money. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/us/jacque-fresco-futurist-who-envisioned-a-society-without-money-dies-at-101.html
- Tablet (2013). Brave new world. Retrieved from https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/57732/brave-new-world
- Thaler, Mathias (2017). Hope abjuring hope: on the place of utopia in realist political theory. Retrieved from https://blogs.sps.ed.ac.uk/jwi/2016/12/06/mathias-thaler-hope-abjuring-hope-on-the-place-of-utopia-in-realist-political-theory/
- The Guardian (2019). Ecocide is a crime. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/28/destruction-earth-crime-polly-higgins-ecocide-george-monbiot?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco&fbclid=IwAR1MFkzn6FB5q33F8PQmfVUycbxaDR5_Q4z_X_NLanI2JvkDJn-Qb_imBww
- Vox (2019). Tactical framing: why you still don’t understand the Green New Deal. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpqFaf8vQfk&fbclid=IwAR3guvaiHZHTCKyfUpRYDm51JmkXBT-kwEQlP1hDdAzQqXgak3IalAuf5Ns
- Zerzan, John (2012). Future primitives. Feral House.
- 8:15 pm Sep. 6 , 2019 – Shani Cairns – (Updated page and added several new resources).
- 3:15 pm Mar. 16 , 2019 – Shani Cairns – (Added End Poverty page and introductory content write up, videos and numerous other resources).
Note: This page is in a very early draft stage and as with many wiki pages, it is a work in progress. It aims to introduce the topic of poverty and inequity as it is related to the climate crisis.