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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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224 UK academics support school climate strike

224 academics have written a letter to The Guardian in support of the children’s proposed non-attendance at school on Friday 15th February 2015.  This is in response to a growing movement across the world by teenagers and children to draw attention of their governments to the need for emergency actions against climate change.  Greta Thunberg from Sweden was the first to take such action (see an earlier blog).

Here is the letter in its entirety (of which I am one of the signatories):

“School climate strike children’s brave stand has our support

We are inspired that our children, spurred on by the noble actions of Greta Thunberg and other striking students, are making their voices heard, say 224 academics.

We, the undersigned academics, stand in solidarity with the children going on school climate strike on 15 February, and with all those taking a stand for the future of the planet.

Nelson Mandela once said: “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” Human planetary abuse is, in a very real sense, child neglect.

As many of us and other fellow academics have indicated previously in this newspaper (Letters, 27 October 2018), the scientific evidence of climate change is clear. For example, the summer of 2018 has been confirmed by the Meteorological Office as the hottest on record for England. The heatwave adversely affected crops across Europe, with wheat and potato harvests reduced by one quarter, which in turn impacted upon food prices. Australia is similarly experiencing “hottest on record” weather events. As citizens across the globe will know and testify, many comparably disturbing examples could be given. We cannot nurture our children without Nature.

It is with these tragic and desperate events in mind that we offer our full support to the students – some of whom may well aspire to be the academics of the future – who bravely plan to strike on 15 February to demand that the UK government takes climate action. They have every right to be angry about the future that we shall bequeath to them, if proportionate and urgent action is not taken. We are inspired that our children, spurred on by the noble actions of Greta Thunberg and many other striking students all around the world, are making their voices heard.

Alison Green
, PhD (Psychology), National Director (UK) ScientistsWarning.org
Sir Tim Smit Co-Founder, Eden Project & Exec Chair Eden Project International

Professor Kevin Anderson, Joint chair of Energy and Climate Change at Manchester and Uppsala Universities
Professor Tony Watts OBE
Molly Scott Cato MEP, Professor of Green Economics, University of Roehampton
Chris Rapley CBE, Professor of Climate Science, UCL
Professor T. R. Birkhead, FRS Department of Animal & Plant Sciences,
University of Sheffield
Professor Joy Carter Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester
Professor Danny Dorling, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford (UK)
Professor Diane Reay, University of Cambridge
Professor Guy Claxton, King’s College London
Professor Rosalind Gill, UK
Professor Jem Bendell, PhD, University of Cumbria
Professor Marilyn Strathern, DBE Cambridge University
Dr Anne Alexander, University of Cambridge
Dr Miklós Antal, Research Fellow, University of Leeds
Francisco Ascui (PhD, MBA, MSc), Centre for Business and Climate Change, University of Edinburgh
Dr Hugues Azérad, Fellow and College Lecturer,Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge
Dr Keith Baker, co-founder, Energy Poverty Research initiative, Scotland
Stephen J. Ball, distinguished service Professor of Sociology of Education, University College London
Dr Meg-John Barker, Psychology in Social Sciences, The Open University
Rocio Perez Barrales, School of Biological Sciences, University of Portsmouth
Emeritus Professor Michael Bassey
Professor Margaret Bates
, University of Northampton
Manu Bazzano, Lecturer, University of Roehampton
Professor David Beerling, Dept. Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
Peter Belton, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, University of East Anglia
Dr Teresa Belton visiting fellow, School of Education and Lifelong Learning, University of East Anglia
Dr Nicholas Beuret, University of Essex
Dr Simon Boxley, Centre for Climate Change Education & Communication, University of Winchester
Dr Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion
Beth Breeze, Director, Centre for Philanthropy, University of Kent
Delny Britton Ph.D. (env. Sci.), Stroud, Gloucestershire
Dr Onel Brooks, Senior Lecturer in Psychotherapy, Counselling and Counselling Psychology
Annemarieke de Bruin, Researcher, Stockholm Environment Institute, Department of Environment and Geography, University of York
Erik Buitenhuis Ph.D., Ocean Biogeochemist
Dr Catherine Burke, Reader in History of Education and Childhood, University of Cambridge
Professor Erica Burman, Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester
Dr Jonathan Busch, Research & Teaching Fellow, Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds
Dr Rose Capdevila, School of Psychology, The Open University
Dr Stuart Capstick, Research Fellow, Cardiff University
Professor Andrew Challinor, Faculty of Environment, University of Leeds
Professor Alec Charles, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, UoW
Paul Chatterton, Professor of Urban Futures,School of Geography, University of Leeds
Christopher Clarke, Emeritus Professor of Applied Mathematics, University of Southampton
Isabel Clarke, consultant Clinical Psychologist, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
Professor Linda Clarke, Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment (ProBE), Westminster Business School, University of Westminster
Richard Clarke, Visiting Scholar, University of Westminster
Dr Christopher D. Coath, University of Bristol
Frank Coffield, Emeritus Professor of Education, UCL Institute of Education, London University
Dr Philip Connell, University of Cambridge
Andrew Cooper, Professor of Social Work, Tavistock Centre and UEL
Dr Mick Cooper, Counselling Psychologist
Dr Alice Courvoisier, Ph.D.(Mathematics), lecturer, York University
Nick Cowern, Emeritus Professor, Newcastle University
Ed Craig, Executive Director Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, University of Edinburgh
Gareth Dale, Politics/History, Brunel University
Professor Colin Davis University of Bristol
Dr Lucy Delap, Reader in Modern British and Gender History, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge
Dr Peter Dwyer, UCU Branch Executive, Ruskin College, Oxford
Dr Alison Dyke, Stockholm Environment Institute, Department of Environment and Geography, University of York
Richard Eke Ph.D., Associate Lecturer in Education
Professor Barbara Evans CEng MCIWEM, Co-Director, Centre for Global Development, University of Leeds
Dr Nick Evans, Junior Research Fellow, Clare College, University of Cambridge
Dr Keri Facer, Professor of Educational and Social Futures, University of Bristol
Dr Andrew L. Fanning, Marie Curie Research Fellow, Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds
Suman Fernando, Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities, London Metropolitan University; retired Consultant Psychiatrist
Michael Fielding Emeritus Professor of Education, UCL Institute of Education, London
Dr Keith Flett, London Socialist Historians Group, University of London
Alistair Ford, Research Associate (Cities and Climate Change), Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Dr Katy Fox-Hodess, University of Sheffield
Professor Lynn Froggett FAcSS
Dr Christophe Gagne, Senior Language Teaching Officer in French, MML, University of Cambridge
Charlie J. Gardner, PhD Lecturer, Conservation Biology
Dr Simon Gibbs university Reader in Educational Psychology
Ian Gibson Professor and former MP and chair, Select Committee on Science and Technology
Simona Giordano, University of Manchester
Dr Sara González, Associate Professor, School of Geography, University of Leeds
Harvey Goldstein, Professor of Social Statistics, University of Bristol
Professor Dave Goulson FRES,, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex
Dr Dina Glouberman Skyros Institute
Dr Mia Gray, Dept of Geography, University of Cambridge
Sarah Greenfield Clark, MSc (Sustainability), Partnerships Co-ordinator for Extinction
Rebellion
Stephen Hall, University Academic Fellow, Sustainable Cities
Dr Catherine Happer, Lecturer in Sociology
Lukas Hardt, Postgraduate Research Student, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Prof. Julie Harris, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St. Andrews
Rachael Harris PhD, University of Cambridge
Stephan Harrison, Climate Scientist, Exeter University UK
Dr Stephen Harwood, University of Edinburgh Business School
Dr Karsten Haustein, Postdoctoral Researcher, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
Peter Hawkins Ph.D. Professor of Leadership Henley Business School, University of Reading
Dr Clare Heaviside, NERC Independent Research Fellow, University of Oxford
Dr Jason Hickel, Goldsmiths, University of London
Chris Hines MBE, Hon.D.Sc
Dr Stuart Hodkinson
, Associate Professor, School of Geography, University of Leeds
Dr Dan Hodson, Research Scientist, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, UK
Paul Hoggett, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, UWE
Owen Holland, Department of English, UCL
Dr Wendy Hollway, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Open University
Dr Reza Hossain, MBBS, MRCGP, DCH, DRCOG, DFFP, General Practitioner & Population Matters
Richard House, PhD (Env sci) Chartered psychologist, Stroud
Michael Hrebeniak, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge
David Humphreys, Professor of Environmental Policy, Open University
Peter Humphreys Chair, Centre for Personalised Education, visiting lecturer, School of Education, Birmingham City University
Dr Victoria Hurth Faculty of Business, University of Plymouth
Professor Lisa Isherwood, FRSA, Director of the Institute for Theological Partnerships, Professor of Feminist Liberation Theologies, University of Winchester
Chris Jarrold, Professor of Cognitive Development, School of Psychological Science, University of Bristol
Simon Jobson, Professor of Sport & Exercise Physiology, University of Winchester
Professor Aled Jones, PhD MA BA FHEA HonFIA Director of Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University
Steven Jones, PhD (Education), Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester
Professor Stephen Joseph, University of Nottingham
Remi Joseph-Salisbury, Presidential Fellow in Ethnicity and Inequalities, The University of Manchester
Dr Alexandre Kabla, Reader, Engineering Department, University of Cambridge
Dr. J. Kasmire, University of Manchester
Philomena Keane, Educational Psychologist, Keane Minds
Dr Ben Kenward, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Oxford Brookes University
Dr Eleanor Kirk, Research Associate, University of Glasgow
Professor Peter Kornicki FBA, University of Cambridge
Dr Tonya Lander, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford
Mary Laven, Professor of Early Modern History, University of Cambridge
Jane Liddell-King, Cambridge
Peter Lipman, Fellow, Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Del Loewenthal, Emeritus Professor of Psychotherapy and Counselling, University of Roehampton
Gerhard Lohmann-Bond, Chair/Coordinator East Midlands Green Party
Ed Lord RMN, Ph.D. fellow, Swansea University
Rachel Lunnon Ph.D. (mathematical logic), computer programmer, Bristol
Robert Macfarlane, Reader at Cambridge University
Professor Neil Marriott Deputy Vice Chancellor
Professor Pru Marriott, Dean of Business, Law and Sport, Director of the Winchester Business School
Andrew Marsham, DPhil, Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge
Dr John Marsham, PhD (Meteorology)
John Mateer, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Production, Department of Theatre, Film and Television, University of York
Giulio Mattioli, (PhD) Visiting Research Fellow, Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth & Environment, University of Leeds
Dr Emma Mawdsley, Geography Department, Cambridge University
Dr Debbie Maxwell Lecturer in Interactive Media, Department of Theatre, Film and Television, University of York
Susannah Mayhew, Professor of Health Policy, Systems and Reproductive Health
Marjorie Mayo, Emeritus Professor, Goldsmiths, University of London.
Dr Duncan McCollin, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, University of Northampton
Bill McGuire, Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards, University College London
Ciarán McInerney, PhD., Research Fellow, University of Leeds
Professor Alastair McIntosh University of Glasgow & Centre for Human Ecology
James Mckay, project leader: ‘The Art of a Sustainable Future’, University of Leeds
Dr Jean McKendree, Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York
Laura McMahon, University of Cambridge
Dr Kate McMillan Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King’s College London
Dr Alessandra Mezzadri Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, Department of Development Studies, SOAS, London
Dr Lucie Middlemiss, Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds
Professor Martin Milton, Regents University London
Dr Iris Möller, 
Lecturer in Coastal Processes, Cambridge Coastal Research Unit (CCRU) / Biogeography & Biogeomorphology Research Group, University of Cambridge
Dr Gerry Mooney, Open University in Scotland
Professor Sian Moore Director, Work and Employment Research Unit (WERU) and Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU), Greenwich Business School, London
Emeritus Professor Peter Moss, UCL Institute of Education
Richard Murphy, Professor of Practice in International Political Economy, City, University of London
Dr David Nally, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
Calum Neill, Associate Professor of Psychoanalysis & Cultural Theory, Edinburgh Napier University
Peter Newell, Professor of International Relations, Department of International Relations, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex
Dr Robbie Nicol, Senior Lecturer in Outdoor Environmental Education, University of Edinburgh
Dany Nobus, Professor of Psychoanalytic Psychology, Brunel University London
Eva Novotny, PhD
Jeff Ollerton
, Professor of Biodiversity, University of Northampton
Dr Susie Orbach, The Balint Consultancy
Professor Jayne Osgood, Middlesex University, mother, feminist, activist
Stephanie Palmer, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge
Douglas Parker, Professor of Meteorology, University of Leeds
Ian Parker, Emeritus Professor of Management, University of Leicester
Carole Parkes, Professor of Sustainable Business, University of Winchester
Christine Parkinson Ph.D. (Behavioural Science), retired biologist and author (climate change), Birmingham
Dr Volker Patent, CPsychol, Open University
Dr Ian Patterson, Life Fellow, Queens’ College, Cambridge
David Peters Professor Emeritus, Westminster Centre for Resilience, College of Liberal Arts and Science, University of Westminster
Dr Mary Phillips reader in organisation studies, University of Bristol
Professor Ann Phoenix
Professor Jenny Pickerill,
 University of Sheffield
Adela Pickles, Communications Director for Rainforest Trust UK
Professor Jonatan Pinkse, University of Manchester
Professor Wouter Poortinga, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University
Dr Gillian Proctor, Programme Leader in MA Psychotherapy and Counselling, University of Leeds
Professor Sarah A. Radcliffe, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
Joe Ravetz, Co-Director, CURE, University of Manchester
Dr Rupert Read, Reader in Philosophy, University of East Anglia, UK
Dr Peter Reason, Emeritus Professor, University of Bath
Dr Helen Richardson, Professor of Gender and Organisation, Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University
Annette Rimmer, University of Manchester
Rosemary Rizq, Professor of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, University of Roehampton, London
Pip Roddis, School of Geography, University of Leeds
Paul Routledge, Professor of Contentious Politics and Social Change, School of Geography, University of Leeds
Andrew Samuels, Professor of Analytical Psychology, University of Essex; Former Chair, UK Council for Psychotherapy
Kate Sapin, Manchester Institute of Education, The University of Manchester
Simon Schaffer, Professor of History of Science, University of Cambridge
Dr Jason Scott-Warren, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge
Lynne Segal, Anniversary Professor of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London
Professor Farzana Shain, Keele University
Dr Jo Shuttleworth, Lecturer in Counselling Psychology, University of Manchester
Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting and Finance, University of Sheffield
Andrew Simms, Research Associate, University of Sussex & Coordinator, the Rapid Transition Alliance
David Sims, Emeritus Professor of Organisational Behaviour, City, University of London
Helen Spandler, Professor of Mental Health Studies, University of Central Lancashire
Nick Srnicek, Lecturer in Digital Economy, Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London
Lauren Stabler, PhD (Sustainability) Researcher at Global Sustainability Institute
Dr Guy Standing, FAcSS Professorial Research Associate, SOAS University of London
Professor Julia K. Steinberger, University of Leeds
Arran Stibbe, Professor of Ecological Linguistics, University of Gloucestershire
Peter Strachan, Professor of Energy Policy, The Robert Gordon University
Simon Szreter, Professor of History and Public Policy, University of Cambridge, and a fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge
Harriet Thew, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Brian Thorne, Emeritus Professor of Counselling, University of East Anglia
Professor Fred Toates, UK
Steve Tombs, Prof of Criminology, The Open University
Dr Corrado Topi, Ecological Economist, Stockholm Environment Institute, Department of Environment and Geography, University of York
Martin Upchurch, Professor of International Employment Relations, Middlesex University Business School, Hendon
Simon van der Borgh, Senior Lecturer in film & television production & screenwriter, University of York
Andreas Vossler, Phd (Psychology)
Lianne Waterston, B.Ed, 2041 Climateforce Ambassador, Climate Reality Leader
Professor Andrew Watterson, Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, University of Stirling
Dr David Whitebread retired senior member, Homerton College, Cambridge
Ian Willis, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
Dr Rebecca Willis, Independent Researcher
Dr Ruth Wood, Senior Lecturer in Environment and Climate Change, University of Manchester
Michael J Wright, Emeritus Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience, Brunel University, London
Mike Yule, Associate Lecturer, Department of Education, University of Chichester
Dr Andrew Zurcher, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge”

GretaThunberg2

Greta Thunberg speaking at COP24



 


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An obsession with GDP and economic growth is acting to worsen climate change

An obsession with GDP and economic growth is acting to worsen climate change.

A number of progressive economists have been pointing out the facts relating to this statement for the last few years.  Yet, political leaders across the world still seem to be deaf to their words and obsessed with a need to find ways to fuel economic growth through a market economy and promoting austerity, and then praise themselves for doing it, even though their austerity measures affect the poorest in society and damage the environment.  It is part of an adherence to a competitive world, in which one’s own country must come out on top.  This blinkered approach encourages the manufacturing industry, much of which uses fossil fuels, and trading across the globe, in order to balance the difference between imports and exports – what is termed ” a balanced economy”.  I deal with the issue in Chapter 7 of my book, which can be found elsewhere on this website.

fioramonti

In the UK, this approach was perhaps pioneered by Margaret Thatcher and her crony in the US, Ronald Reagan.  But it was later picked up with enthusiasm by Tony Blair and developed further, until it became an obsession with economists.  According to George Monbiot, they are using the wrong mathematics and this approach is both outdated and harmful to the environment. See:

George Monbiot (2015) Guardian 24th November 2015.  “Consume more, conserve more: Sorry but we just can’t do both.”

A number of progressive economists have been saying a similar thing for a number of years.  Perhaps the late Richard Douthwaite was the first to say this in his book “The Growth Illusion” (1999) but there have been others too:  Molly Scott Cato MEP (“Green Economics”), Kate Raworth (Doughnut Economics and also “Old economics is based on false ‘laws of physics’ – new economics can save us” Guardian 6th April 2017), Ian Fletcher (“Free Trade Doesn’t Work”), Paul Krugman  (“How did economists get it so wrong?” in the New York Times), Pat Conaty and the New Economics Foundation among others (full details of each in my references section on this website).

The current UK Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP, also wrote a booklet about this in June 2007, whilst a member of Tony Blair’s “market economy party”.  It is entitled “Another World is Possible” and shows amazing foresight about the consequences of market economy politics, which we are living with now. He was courageous to write this, at a time when Blair was pursuing another path.

AWIP

“Another World is Possible”  (2007) is published by the Labour representation Committee, PO Box 2378, London E5 9QU.  ISBN 978-0-9555771-0-9.

This excellent booklet includes a section entitled “A Planet Plundered for Profit” in which McDonnell states that “we cannot tackle climate change unless we address the system which has caused it…….the wasteful consumption of the wealthier nations has brought environmental impacts, which…. disproportionately affect the poorest countries….The UK has a wealth of natural resources that lend themselves to renewable energy production which, once set up, are low cost to run and cause no pollution… a programme of investment in renewable would not only create thousands of jobs in engineering and manufacturing sectors that have declined in recent years….”

According to Kate Raworth in her Guardian article, “Things are not going well in the world’s richest economies. Most OECD countries are facing their highest levels of income inequality in 30 years, while generating ecological footprints of a size that would require four, five or six planet Earths if every country were to follow suit. These economies have, in essence, become divisive and degenerative by default. Mainstream economic theory long promised that the solution starts with growth – but why does that theory seem so ill-equipped to deal with the social and ecological fallout of its own prescriptions?”

In May 2017, Lorenzo Fioramonti*, Professor of Political Economy, University of Pretoria, wrote an article for The Conversation, republished in Quartz. He opens: “GDP as a measure of growth fails to account for damages caused to the environment by industrial activity”. In his new book “Wellbeing Economy: Success in a World Without Growth” he points out that the “growth first” rule has dominated the world since the early 20th century. No other ideology has ever been so powerful: the obsession with growth even cut through both capitalist and socialist societies”.  He asks the question, “What exactly is growth” and further expounds the idea that it is not a silver bullet to success.  Further details of this concept in his book are summarised in:

https://britain2020.wordpress.com/2017/07/04/fioramonti-growth-is-dying-as-the-silver-bullet-for-success-this-may-be-good-thing/

Kate Raworth has also circulated her latest blog, which contains a video, which tries to explain the issue in easily understandable terms, using puppets.  She hopes that this will be used in secondary schools and in teaching economics undergraduates that the GDP/growth model does not work:

Economic Man vs. Humanity: a puppet rap battle

by Kate Raworth

An economist, a songwriter, and a puppet-maker walked into a recording studio. What do you think came out?. . . An economics puppet rap battle, of course.

One of the most dangerous stories at the heart of 20th century economics is the depiction of humanity as rational economic man. In my book Doughnut Economics I decided he needed a portrait so I drew him, standing alone, with money in his hand, ego in his heart, a calculator in his head and nature at his feet. He hates work, he loves luxury and he knows the price of everything.

Now here’s the most fascinating (and unnerving) thing I discovered while researching the history and influence of this character. The more that economics students learn about him – from Year 1 to Year 2 to Year 3 of their studies – the more they say they value traits such as self-interest and competition over traits such as altruism and collaboration.

The implication? Who we tell ourselves we are shapes who we become.

Over the past year I have been contacted by many economics teachers around the world – especially those in secondary schools – who want to encourage their students to critique this text-book model and offer them a far more nuanced understanding of human behaviour.

So that got me thinking…

I teamed up with the brilliant puppet designer Emma Powell and the ingenious musician Simon Panrucker and, with funding from the Network for Social Change (big thanks, folks!), we created this video – Economic Man vs Humanity: a puppet rap battle.

We’d love to see it in use in classrooms, conferences, reading groups, community groups, and shared widely on social media, on web platforms, on teaching resource sites.

If you are a teacher, please do use it to start a debate in your classroom (the video ends with a question for that very reason). Download the complete lyrics of the rap, and if your students want to dive further into the back story and future possibilities of Rational Economic Man, then I recommend Chapter 3 of Doughnut Economics, which was the basis for the whole project.

If you are a student, please do share the video with your fellow future economists, get your teacher involved, and help kick off a much-needed discussion.

And if you host a web discussion, a new economics resource site, a community network, or a teachers’ forum, you are very welcome to feature the film on your site – we’d love to hear what you do with it.

So sit back and enjoy the Puppet Rap Battle – sing along, pass it on, and let’s say farewell to Rational Economic Man. Today’s students know that it’s time to create a better portrait of who we are for 21st century economics.”

Kate Raworth | 5 September 2018 at 10:14 | URL: https://wp.me/p3sUHn-Bb

 

And yet, despite all of these highly knowledgeable progressive economists writing at length about it, the old way of seeking “growth, growth and more growth” still persists. The present conservative government in the UK has used this maxim extensively over the last 10 years, and even used it as a hammer to batter the opposition with – that they are weak on the economy – a deceitful myth that a gullible public unwittingly believed, when voting at the ballot box – until June 2017, that is.  And the present Chancellor constantly brings statistical data to parliament, in an attempt to show that their economic austerity policies are working.  What he does not say is that they are contributing to climate change, as well as making many marginalised people much worse off.  Indeed, they seem to have abandoned any pretence of working towards attaining the targets set by the Paris Agreement in 2015.  George Monbiot has slated their 25-year environment plan, as “A Grand Plan to do Nothing”. See: http://www.monbiot.com

This last year, we have seen some of the extreme consequences of climate change:

  • excessive heatwaves this summer;
  • a prolonged unusual freeze-up last winter;
  • last year having the most violent and numerous hurricanes;
  • island nations losing some of their territory due to sea level rise;
  • the last few years, global temperatures being the hottest ever on record.

Some of these issues have been described in more detail in other recent blogs on this website.

Just recently, I have read an article by Alan Cottey, a member of Scientists for Global Responsibility: “Environment change, economy change and reducing conflict at source”, just published in AI & Society, where he sets out alternatives.  Here is an extract from the Abstract:

At a time when fossil fuel burning, nationalism, ethnic and religious intolerance, and other retrograde steps are being promoted, the prospects for world peace and environmental systems stability may appear dim. Exactly because of this is it the more important to continue to examine the sources of conflict. A major obstacle to general progress is the currently dominant economic practice and theory, which is here called the economy-as-usual, or economics-as-usual, as appropriate. A special obstacle to constructive change is the language in which economic matters are usually discussed. This language is narrow, conservative, technical and often obscure. The rapid changes in the environment (physical and living) are largely kept in a separate compartment. If, however, the partition is removed, economics-as-usual, with its dependence on growth and its widening inequality, is seen to be unsustainable. Radical economic change, for better or worse, is to be expected. Such change is here called economy change. The change could be for the better if it involved an expansion of the concept of economics itself, along the lines of oikonomia, a modern revival of a classical Greek term for management or household. In such an expanded view, not everything of economic value can be measured. It is argued that economics-as-usual is the source of much strife. Some features are indicated of a less conflictual economy—more just, cooperative and peaceful. These features include a dignified life available to all people as of right, the word ‘wealth’ being reconnected with weal, well and well-being, and ‘work’ being understood as including all useful activity.”

The whole article can be found at:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00146-018-0816-x


I think that many of us have stood on the sidelines of this issue for long enough now.  It is time for the progressive economists I have named above, and those cited in Cottey’s article, to come together, in formulating together a new economic theory, with a clear structure, that takes care of the environment, does not increase the gap between rich and poor, and which reduces conflict and competition between nations.  They have written separately for too long.  Now, we are looking for a new partnership, a new structure – a really new economics, based on compassion and equality, not austerity, which will also work towards reducing the damaging effects of climate change.