Instructions to Save the Planet
Rarely do I find writing about our economic system that warrants not just Wall of Fame status, but also a parade. I cannot heap enough praise on today’s honoree:
This essay offers a convincing explanation of why capitalism prevents rational responses to climate change and other threats to the biosphere. I wasn’t 100 percent certain that capitalism has to be jettisoned in order to save the planet (and human civilization). This essay put the final nail in capitalism’s coffin for me. It also does a decent job of imagining the basics of a system that would leave our children a planet worth inheriting.
Before you click the link and head over there to read it while finishing your coffee, let me manage your expectations. Make more coffee. This essay is 31 pages long. But it’s a smart, important read. Be sure to let me know what you think.
This is one of four papers published last month by The Next System Project. This project is led by a couple of very smart people with distinguished careers, political economist Gar Alperovitz (worked for the U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress and U.S. Dept. of State) and Rhodes Scholar, Law Professor and former White House advisor Gus Speth. These guys founded The Next System Project because they recognized the need for fundamental, systemic change if our civilization is to survive, let alone thrive, in an era of overshoot.
I’m going to write very little here, because you’ve got more important reading to do. Let me just whet your appetite with this brief sample of the direct, candid, insightful thought and writing you’re about to treat yourself to, thanks to The Next System Project and Richard Smith. Smith is a founding member of System Change Not Climate Change. He is the author of Green Capitalism: the God that Failed.
“We all know what we have to do. It’s completely obvious. We need to radically suppress GHG emissions and production of fossil fuels, stop deforestation, over-fishing, and pillaging the planet to make products we don’t need. And we need to stop dumping all manner of pollution and toxics everywhere. None of these problems require any big technological breakthroughs. As I’ve said: mostly we just have to stop doing what we’re doing. The problem is we can’t seem to stop, or even slow down. While global warming will kill us in the long run, stopping overconsumption will kill us in the short run because it would precipitate economic collapse, mass unemployment, and starvation. This is the ultimate fatal choice of capitalism: we have to destroy our children’s tomorrow to hang on to our jobs today.”
Director, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth
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