“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Dear World Leaders,
Many of us have put our hopes in these negotiations, but also know we can’t expect too much: there are many constraints and challenges (economic, social and even psychological) and there are also many competing interests.
But there are no many “negotiations” when governments decide to start or continue wars that would kill thousands; nor when governments (elected by us and supported by our taxes) decide to approve research and projects that affect the wellbeing or even long time survival of entire ecosystems (and therefore human); or when corporations and businesses are allowed (through complex trade agreements) to hire and exploit human beings in countries where regulations are sub-human; or when employers in our own (developed?) countries strip workers of their benefits or abuse their rights; or when debt and runoff consumerism have everyone slave to debt…I’m digressing
But if you are serious about what you say about climate change, and smart enough to know that it is “not only” catastrophic climate change (already here and getting worse) but also soil erosion, water pollution, biodiversity loss and general resource depletion (in a nutshell, we are doomed), then you need to act as real leaders and treat this as what it really is: a global emergency and the worst and more dangerous threat to human existence (and all the other species existence)
If you do that, here is what we expect from you:
- Understand that carbon taxes, cap-and-trade and emission accountability are all good, but be aware that they are insufficient and transitional and won’t solve the problem
- Create a serious plan to eliminate individual cars (including hybrids and electrics): highly subsidize not only the producers but also the users of public transportation and encourage sharing: cars are one of the most useless creations of the industrial revolution as they require a lot of resources to be built and run, sit 99% of the time but the owners still have to pay for insurance and loans, are dangerous (causing more deaths than terrorism) and are changed every 5-10 years just to end pilling up on endless landfills
- Aggressively subsidize homeowners, business, manufacturers and services that practice insulation and frugality, even pay campaigns to show people the beauties of a frugal life, no debt, simplicity and low or smart consumerism
- Punish industries who try to profit from green-washing and making people believe that changing a product would help the cause when it really doesn’t
- Encourage employers to support employees who are willing to start job-sharing, go part-time or work from home a few days a month (or a week)
- Educate the public on how to transition to a low meat, vegetarian or even vegan diet in a healthy way and discourage permits and subsidies for meat, poultry and fish producers, more when they use abusive and inhuman practices
- Educate and encourage the public and businesses to develop a “degrowth” plan (or as we call in Permaculture/Transition, am Energy Descent Action Plan) that allows for a dignified and enjoyable descent in consumption. Discourage “disposables” and “recycling” and encourage “reuse, repair, redistribute, rethink and upcycle”
- Create a plan to re-distribute wealth so those who don’t have anything can have access to descent shelter, food, water, transportation, clothing, education, healthcare, safety and security
- Encourage and provide support to small farmers, urban farmers and anybody willing to regenerate the soil and grow truly sustainable, local food
- Discourage travelling by plane, cruise and the like and encourage local community engagement beyond tourism/consumerism
- Support people from all backgrounds to come up with creative ways to utilize the existent surplus of “non-degradable”, toxic or dangerous items or parts
- Stop bombing other countries immediately and start a peace process where cultural, religious and lifestyle differences are discussed and accepted (or rejected) in the way that best suits those who are directly affected
- Stop using taxpayers money to fund the manufacturing of weapons and carry a voluntary program for everybody to surrender firearm weapons. Vow to destroy all weapons and eliminate the army as this is one of most polluting and destructive industries
Sounds a bit radical?
Wars, famines, displacement of peoples and species, using up all the resources so there is nothing left for future generations (or others living in other regions), destroying other people’s livelihoods out of greed and selfishness, polluting the only planet that gives us life, food and shelter, playing with our and our children’s future, that’s “radically” wrong! And all that is already happening…
Sound a bit unrealistic?
Unrealistic is thinking we can continue this way and get some sort of magical fix so we can breathe and continue polluting, ransacking and misusing the planet, other humans and species…
“There are many things that seem impossible only so long as one does not attempt them.”
~ André Gide, Autumn Leaves
Each one of us can start (some of us have already started) to try this “managed” Degrowth Path: is not a “going back”, it is a “going forward” as it is the only ethical way to have any hope of survival (and thriving) in both the near and far future…
The descent will come anyway: if not planned, it will be messy, painful, terrible and unfair (it is already happening for many human beings and other species through loss of habitat and food; loss of dignity by unemployment and bankruptcy, homelessness, “natural” disasters, debt, disguised slavery, social injustices, terrorism and war)…it is in our and your (leaders) hands, to define whether we want it “to happen to us” or we want to navigate it with dignity.
Thank you for reading
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
~ André Gide
“The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed. The Economist, December 4, 2003” ~ William Gibson