During the last month a new renovated force pushed me to start again reading articles on Climate Change, Ecology and Sustainability. Three articles have literally caught my attention, not only because they were well-written, but because they confirmed that Short Termism is itself contradictory and make joke of the mass: 1) Flying In The Face Of Reason (by Calum Harvey-Scholes); 2) Achieving A Just Transition (by Nick Robins); 3) Old Versus New (by Tara Garnett)

 

Flying In The Face Of Reason (by Calum Harvey-Scholes)

Just for a moment, think about your life, in particular your daily life activities. Is something that you continue to do as an old habit but you no longer need it? For most of us the answer is yes! We all do so many things we do not need every day, just because they come from our habits and we do not want to change them.

Let’s now move on in the field of airport building. The title of the article by Calum is a little bit provocative and it shows that some projects are carried on just because the system want it, but we do not need them: we make things we do not need just because the system tells us to do them. Is this a sustainable way of living? Around the world, each new airport or expansion project is different, but all share a disregard for and destruction of ecosystems, and the prioritisation of economic growth and globalisation over local people and place. Global capitalism is a feature in all airport expansion, and in resisting the airports, we all struggle against this same sociopathic ideology.

 

 

Achieving a just transition (by Nick Robins)

 

“Only a people-first approach will succeed”

 Nick Robins

 

Let’s take two people: one take flights every day, eat 1kg of meat per day, has three cars (one for the morning, one for the afternoon and the other for the evening), 10 apartments and produce a lot of plastic waste. The other one just eat half a kg of fruit per day, the only way of transport he uses is a bike and he flies just 1 time per year, and live in a little island. Who is responsible more for Climate Change?

One of the many striking shifts that have taken place in the climate agenda over the past year is how the social dimension and the centrality of justice have come to the fore. No longer is climate action only about cutting carbon emissions to zero and building up defences to inevitable physical shocks.

Today for example student movements are highlighting how the prospects for today’s children are being stolen by continued emissions of greenhouse gases. We are talking about generational inequality. In fact, if left unchecked, climate breakdown will become one of the world’s worst injustices in terms of the depth and duration of the damage it will cause for centuries to come.

The climate justice agenda goes further still, looking at how the causes and consequences of global heating are often refracted through the lenses of gender, race, colonisation and class. For Mary Robinson, in many ways of the godmother of climate justice, it means “we need to create a ‘people first’ platform for those on the margins suffering the worst effects of climate change.”

For too long, the climate agenda has been socially blind. Mary Robinson argues that It’s clear that the transition is a good news story, one that could well lead to many more jobs, and vastly improved health and remove a large source of corruption and conflict in the world by phasing out fossil fuels.

A just transition will also need to be guided by the priorities of place. Making these connections between climate, nature and justice has to become a national endeavour. Carbon prices, for example, need to be designed in ways that leave low-income households and vulnerable communities better off, and matched by a National Investment Bank to mobilise the capital required.

 

 

Old Versus New (by Tara Garnett)

 

“For change to have an impact, change needs to be mainstream. Niche virtue won’t keep us within 1.5 °C”

by Tara Garnett

 

What Tara focus on is the fact that whatever subject on sustainability we bring on the table, we will make mistakes as long as our thinking is an old way of thinking. Let’s take Veganism. The shelves are now bursting with vegan offerings, but the production systems, and the delivery mechanisms look pretty similar to those for the foods they sit next to. They’re there to fulfil consumer demand, and in so doing “to grow the business” – which in almost all cases goes hand in hand with “to grow the environmental crisis”.

We cannot meet our climate commitments and we cannot halt the steady annihilation of other life forms if we carry on eating animals in the quantities that current trends suggest. This stands true whatever animal type or whatever production system you propose. For sure, some animals or systems are better in some or most respects than others; but any one of them scaled up to the level of current or future projected consumption levels will be devastating.

Tara concludes her article by stating that one of the biggest threats we face is binary thinking, the unhelpful black/white polarisation of current debates around food. Vegan versus omnivore. Chicken versus beef. Organic versus industrial. Competition wins over collaboration for the right purpose

 

 

Conclusion

 

We have met three interesting articles. The first one is about the prioritization of growth over local people; the second one is about a transition that needs to be fair. The third one is about how the old way of thinking destroys good purposes. All these three have one thing in common: they are all calling for a shift from short termism to Long Term Economy. As long as growth is prioritised over local interests, a fair society is not considered, and an old way of thinking is used, sustainability and any linked purpose cannot be achieved.

Dario Ruggiero

Initiator and founder of Long Term Economy, coordinator and Editor in chief of Long Term Economy web-site and Blog

Dario Ruggiero has 22 posts and counting. See all posts by Dario Ruggiero

Dario Ruggiero

4 thoughts on “THE NONSENSE OF SHORT-TERMISM

  • HENRY KWOK

    Dario Ruggiero

    can i be equally provocative? while i do agree with the gist of the messages, i am not sure i can accept the forms mentioned especially when i try to pull the thoughts of the 3 articles together

    ECONOMIC EXPANSIONISM – can economies grow without making money being made somewhere? the issue is not about making money but the problems lie with how they are made with regards to sustainability and honesty and how they are shared benevolently and fairly to bring about a more equitable society. but then how do one define fairness? is there fairness in limiting what an entrepreneur can make and then try to equalise their wealth and earning with others in their society? is it fair to restrict individual rights to make more money than those who do not have that capability? is it fair to give higher regards to the majority rights over individual rights? or should the needs of the majority take precedence over those of the individuals? how do we achieve this in modern societies, especially in the western democratic world, that uphold the notion of individual rights over the majority? where do we draw the line?

    how do we handle this in a world with declining moral values. this decline in values has eroded the sense of fairness. what is fair to one party will be unfair to another. what are the guiding principles as there is no measures that can just for all. how do one determine which is the lesser of two evils?

    harvey-scholes mentioned airports but as a broader issue, there is nothing wrong in building infrastructures that support sustained economic growth. many economies suffer because of the lack of modern infrastructures. the dramatic economic growth of China is build upon developing the necessary infrastructure, starting from schools to commuting highways. there are developed countries facing slow growth because of the lack of good infrastructures to support economic activities at the detriment of productivity.

    admittedly i have to submit that they did it with detrimental costs to the environment. but read this – https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/09/china-leading-sustainable-development/ they are doing something. whether they doing enough is a different issue but then their effort is laudable in comparison to some western developed countries. one president even claimed that climate change is a hoax! read this https://time.com/5622374/donald-trump-climate-change-hoax-event/

    my point is this we need to impress on the need to practise good hygienic practice – to put it crudely we must flush the toilet after use. we needs to clean up the mess

    PEOPLE FIRST APPROACH – this is a very laudable endeavour. in highly sectorised or fragmented societies, who are the people? targeted groups or the whole of humanity? if the whole of society, is it fair to ask those who prefer meat to eat vegan? despite all the claims, a vegan diet is not necessarily environmental friendly – pl read this https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200211-why-the-vegan-diet-is-not-always-green

    should we listen to sound bites or follow the facts?

    OLD VS NEW – i am getting tired of repeating this – we should not throw out the baby with the bath water! we should not throw out what is old just because they appear dated. if one read the works of ancient philosophers, especially the chinese sages, one can see the jewels in their old way of thinking. they have clearer thoughts than modern because they do not have to content with the TMI syndrome – TOO MUCH INFO. their thoughts centred on bringing about the better 3Ps – prosperity, planets and people.

    in fact it is modern thinking that is fault when we have gone from systemic thinking to reductionistic thinking. the world is not linear based on the binary yes/no logic but it is in reality multidimensional. long term thinking will be futile without learning how to handle a fast changing dynamic VUCA world.

    we need to look a fresh look at the world. Chinese expounded the wisdom to look at the substance of the issue not its forms,to look at events in isolation but as a chain through time. this approach will give us an understanding on the dynamics of change going through the systems.

    to bring about the necessary changes in LTE we do need what i call a future thinking based on a holistic systemic approach. this will bring entirely different approaches which will be more strategic and effective than many of the approaches out there

    • Dario Ruggiero

      Thank you @Henry Kwok for your detailed answer. As for money, it is clear that after it was invented as a tool to improve wellness, now it has become the main objective of every human. That is very bad and is causing a lot of problems. If we do not establish a system where money become again a tool, it is difficult to talk about sustainability because each person goal is to make money at the expense of enything elese. That is a very important point if we want to move frome a short-term thinking system to a long-term one. As for “Old vs new”… of course a blind approach is not welcome. Anyway what was good for the 20th century is no longer good and it is causing serious problems. When I talked with Otto Scharmer from MIT we agreed on one of the basic elements of his Theory-U. We need to get rid of the past and see what is emerging now and in the future and as leader need to let this emerging future emerge, in full line with your last lines Henry. Very good dialogue, thank you @Henry

  • Stephen Saunders

    I do not follow the logic that money was invented as a tool to improve wellness. Wellness is a very fashionable and current word that has been around before but is being used in a faddish way now. My understanding is that money came about because in addition to bartering, people needed a medium of exchange that was convenient, usable, serviceable, and didn’t take up a lot of space. Coins, and later paper money fit that bill. We have heard about the cashless society for decades, and also the complete elimination of the penny. Neither has completely happened, although there has been “progress”. Rather than blame money for our problems, why not blame greed. It is not that money is the root of all evil, it is that the love of money is the root of all evil. In any event, whatever we blame or not blame, we need Long Term-ism, that is clear.

  • Franca Colozzo

    What you say Dario, with the appropriate references and citations, comes from a deep sense of social equity which, unfortunately, is not a collective heritage or understood by many wealthy peoples. If the habit, slavishly dragged forward by human inertia, is consolidated by the system rather than dismantled, it appears clear and irrefutable that we will continue on the wrong path.
    The Americans say for example (why do I quote them? Because I have an American son-in-law) that the water found in America is theirs and therefore they can make indiscriminate use of it. Nothing could be more wrong! Water is an inalienable common good and careful use must be made of it.
    Old Versus New (by Tara Garnett), so how to change?
    This is the key to the problem. If we can seriously reverse the course of American thought (which has engulfed the world through forced globalization to sell its products), now rampant in the West, then we could help those peoples who, living on the margins of extreme poverty, allow us to live beyond our means. Will we ever do it? I have been trying for some time, but I come from the old school of thought of my grandmothers and my mother who came out of hunger and war (2nd World War). The economic boom of the Marshall Plan helped us overcome the previous war crisis.
    I am a daughter of well-being and I keep only those memories of those years through the careful example of mine (my father in the German concentration camp). I don’t make history!

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