“Is western civilisation on the brink of collapse?” the lead article in this week’s New Scientist asks. It’s a good question, but it seems too narrow. These pathologies are not confined to “the west”. The rise of demagoguery (and the pursuit of simplistic solutions to complex problems) is everywhere apparent. Environmental breakdown is accelerating worldwide.
Recent studies show that those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not. Why? Because, environmental awareness is higher among wealthy people. It’s not attitudes that govern our impacts on the planet, but income. The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions.
George Monbiot‘s powerful new book looks at how democracy and economic life can be radically organised from the bottom up. He argues against the “society-crushing system of neoliberalism”, and for a political agenda “that isn’t destined to destroy the living planet”, power given back to people so that wealth isn’t continually distributed to the rich.
George Monbiot writes: We cannot hope to address our predicament without a new worldview. We cannot use the models that caused our crises to solve them. We need to reframe the problem. This is what the most inspiring book published so far this year – Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth of Oxford University -has done.
George Monbiot in The Guardian: The rise of celebrity culture did not happen by itself… It is hard for people to attach themselves to a homogenised franchise, owned by a big corporation. So the machine needs a mask. It must wear the face of someone we see as often as we see our next-door neighbours.
George Monbiot writes: If humanity fails to prevent climate breakdown, the industry that bears the greatest responsibility is not transport, farming, gas, oil or even coal. All of them can behave as they do, shunting us towards systemic collapse. The problem begins with the industry that, wittingly or otherwise, grants them this licence: the media.
George Monbiot writes: So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom recognise it as an ideology. We accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.
We can have it all; that is the promise of our age. We can own every gadget we are capable of imagining, without compromising Earth’s capacity to sustain us. The promise that makes all this possible is that as economies develop, they become more efficient in their use of resources. In other words, they decouple.
Warming of oceans due to climate change is unstoppable, say US scientists The Guardian UK The warming of the oceans due to climate change is now unstoppable after record temperatures last year, bringing additional sea-level rise, and raising the risks of severe storms, US government climate scientists has said. The annual State of the Climate
War, pestilence, even climate change, are trifles by comparison. Destroy the soil and we all starve. George Monbiot Imagine a wonderful world, a planet on which there was no threat of climate breakdown, no loss of freshwater, no antibiotic resistance, no obesity crisis, no terrorism, no war. Surely, then, we would be out of major
Can Solar be the Backbone of India’s Energy System by 2035? Tobias Engelmeier, The Energy Collective Around 70% of India’s power comes from coal, less than 1% from solar. Will that change in the next 20 years? Can solar become the new backbone of the Indian energy system? I think there is a good possibility
(Editor’s Note: This 2010 article (full text below) by well-known columnist George Monbiot says provides a summary of Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values, a paper by Tom Crompton of the environment group WWF. The paper uses the latest research in psychology as a prism to understand why progressive causes, even the most urgent
POI Editor’s Note: This piece by environmental writer and The Guardian columnist George Monbiot eloquently sums up our present predicament – the converging catastrophes of climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil. Monbiot also looks at why we are unable to deal with, or even discuss its possibility. We thought it