Wall Street's sickness of growth at any cost, and its damage to both the world economy and global ecosystems, is bad news for already faltering efforts to craft a new international climate change treaty. Tighter budgets and worries about jobs will surely be used at upcoming UN talks as excuses by governments hesitant to make the sacrifices necessary to avoid looming abrupt and run-away climate change. Current global economic difficulties must not stop urgent ecological measures -- like dramatic emissions reduction and natural habitat protection and restoration -- necessary to maintain a habitable Earth.
The global growth machine is seizing up because it is hitting ecological and economic limits, and because of its own greed. Long predicted crises including climate change, collapsing ecosystems, biological homogenization, economic decline, abject poverty, over-population, energy scarcity, extreme weather, food and water shortages, diminished oceans, political instability and endless resource wars -- are unfolding as expected, and are converging into a new global economic AND ecological crisis of unprecedented proportions.
The fundamental root cause of this "ecological bubble" is that humans and their economies depend upon destroying ecosystems necessary for all life, to feed and house themselves. Global ecological sustainability depends critically upon establishing a steady state economy, whereby production and meeting basic human needs for all does not diminish natural capital. Whole industries like coal and ancient forest logging will be eliminated, even as new opportunities emerge in solar energy and environmental restoration.
The current economic cooling may offer a welcome respite to reconsider the growth at any cost madness devouring the Earth’s life giving ecosystems. Growth in economies, human populations and resource use turns ecosystems into resources and then into financial investment papers and consumption. A year later the consumer products are in the landfill, the paper wealth may be further over-priced or just scrap paper, and there are both fewer resources and ecosystems -- but always more people. The ability to live well based upon long-term steady-state interdependence with intact, healthy ecosystems and their natural capital is lost forever.
Humanity's critical transition to both economic and ecological sustainability is simply not happening on any scale. The challenge is how to carry out necessary environmental policies even as economic growth ends and consumption plunges, and before a precipitous crash in either limits future options. The growth machine's natural response will be to liquidate even more life-giving ecosystems, and jettison sufficient climate policies, to vainly try to maintain high growth and personal consumption. This must be avoided using all means necessary.
One thing is clear -- more unbridled growth based upon unsustainable resource use will not solve the global ecological problems associated with unbridled growth and unsustainable resource use. The human enterprise and each global citizen's consumption aspirations must be right-sized to a scale appropriate to ecosystem limits. It is time to get back to making honest, good livings from actually making or doing something of societal value, by earning a living with the land and Earth, and that does not depend upon liquidating ecological being and financial speculation.
The Earth is blooming with responses to each of the symptomatic crises. From relocalized economies to community gardens, from having fewer children to better educating those we have, from driving less while living more richly where we find ourselves, by finding meaning in experience, knowledge and truth rather than competitive consumption, by rejecting ancient superstitions for an understanding that the Earth is alive and sacred -- a slowly awakening public is showing where there is knowledge and will there is hope.
If you look, you can see a New Earth Rising. This new global dream will stress working to globally protect and restore core ecological reserves necessary to maintain ecosystem services, while planting organic gardens and restoring woodlands locally; promoting incentives and sanctions to reduce population, while personally reducing consumption; demanding an end to coal and ancient forest logging, while resisting greenwash wherever it is found and refusing to buy all Earth destroying products; and urging investment to meet the full range of human needs for all, while personally living rich and simple lives full of laughter, love and happiness.
We must demand world leaders not ignore looming apocalyptic global ecosystem collapse, in a vain effort to return to unsustainable and inequitable economic growth which caused the problems in the first place. Tell world governments below that climate change is a deadly fact, action cannot be delayed and its solution will help, not harm the economy. The protest email is going to each member government's focal point of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. and United Nation member countries' contact points.
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The world must pursue UN climate talks even during times of economic trouble, and greatly intensify efforts beyond what was achieved at Bali
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