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Philosophical and literary discussion from the heart of Barcelona

    The dissapearance of the bees and our obsession with economic growth


    Posts : 7
    Join date : 2009-02-03

    The dissapearance of the bees and our obsession with economic growth Empty The dissapearance of the bees and our obsession with economic growth

    Post  Admin Thu Feb 05, 2009 7:43 am

    Sometime last year I wrote a book for my own amusement. Obviously it was ‘for my own amusement’ because no one was ever going to publish it. Anyway, the subject was global warming, and over the course of 100 pages or so I ranted and raved about the stupidity and irrationality of modern human beings. After finishing the book I then went around my house and removed all the unnecessary light-bulbs and engaged in other green activities, and then…
    …consequently forgot all about global warming.

    Well, truth is, it’s not that I forgot… it’s just that it somehow didn’t seem as pressing and imminent as it had done before. It got pushed to the back of my mind along with other personal doomsday scenarios such as terrorism, testicular cancer, asteroids etc. It was as good as forgotten. But then, several months later, I read an article about the disappearance of bees from the UK and suddenly remembered “Oh shit, yeah… we’re completely destroying the planet.” I then realized that this had happened before: basically, my worrying about global warming was cyclical.

    It seems to me that contained within this episode of convenient amnesia is the heart of the problem. You see, while I went through the inconsistent psychological process of worrying, forgetting, worrying and forgetting once more, one thing continued consistently … global warming. And while I – and hundreds of millions of others on this planet – go through the cycle of forgetting about global warming for months at a time ( thus meaning nothing is ever done) the ice continues melting, the world moves inexorably towards being a parched, overgrown coco-pop and we all cosy up to the end of the world.

    You see, the problem isn’t just to do with the fact that one day we might all have to live underground because the surface of the earth is like walking on coals – Indian style, it’s the fact that any disruption causes massive change. As we can see from the chaos caused by a few bankers, any decrease in economic growth causes massive unrest. When crops start failing, sea levels start rising and the weather continues its schizophrenic shift from blizzard one day to scorching sun the next, the world economy will fall off a cliff (if there’s any of it left to fall off a cliff after the existing crisis!). And when the economy bottoms out that’s when the social unrest starts and foolish humans start thinking that maybe Adolph Hitler was misunderstood, or that we must slaughter infidels, or do whatever the fuck our stupidd, desperate human minds tell us is a good idea.

    Obviously therefore, it’s rather important that we do something about global warming; but it’s been the other articles beyond the column space devoted to disappearing bees that’s made me realize how we don’t have a fucking chance. It’s our obsession with the aforementioned – economic growth.

    Economic growth – in its current conceptual form – is totally at odds with combating global warming. The irrepressible drive and hunger for economic growth means more and more things need to be made and produced and consumed and spat out again, and we have to convert millions of Indian, Brazilian and Chinese farmers into urban dwelling producing consuming units with all the factories and energy consumption and pointless plastic that that brings. And when I say ‘hunger’ for economic growth I mean ‘hunger’. I don’t think that Jo public or anyone else outside the sphere of economics realizes just how vital this growth is and how intensely desired it is by everyone from government departments to greedy hedgefund managers to business correspondents. The obsession is with growth, growth, growth.

    I sympathize with this hunger on one level; but now - as economies shrink and less steel is shipped and less oil consumed and more Chinese migrants return to the countryside and people buy less shit and less shit is produced - you’ve gotta ask yourself – ISN’T THIS EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED? Isn’t this the only way we can stop the Chinese coal fired power stations, the western gas guzzlers and the wheel of co2 from turning? … by not buying so much crap? Isn’t this the way we stop pollution – by factories significantly reducing output and humans significantly reducing consumption? Isn’t the economic crisis in fact… bloody good news? The world is experiencing negative growth …
    …the world, therefore, is greener.

    Now, of course, the objection to this argument is what I mentioned myself earlier: without economic growth there’s social unrest and people become poorer; people don’t want to give back their economic advancement, and in fact… they demand that it goes further.

    This is quite true, but economists and poiliticians are working with a flawed logic. They believe that the only way forward for the maintenance and advancement of wealth is economic growth. But they’ve forgotten another means… good old fashioned REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH and socialist ideals! You see, the establishment wants the masses to believe that we can only get more wealthy if we create more wealth. This is mistaken … there’s already shit loads of wealth out there…we just need to redistribute it more fairly. This, to me, seems the perfect answer to both the economic crisis, global warming and the dichotomy between our need to save the planet and our need to get richer.

    Let’s not create more wealth…
    … let’s redistribute it.

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