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”
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
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.