Whose Economy ?
by Jo Abbess
30th September 2007
Setting the scene for international cooperation over Global Warming in New York this week, the President of the United States of America said :-
“For many years, those who worried about climate change and those who worried about energy security were on opposite ends of the debate…It was said that we faced a choice between protecting the environment and producing enough energy. Today we know better. These challenges share a common solution: technology…”
“Each nation must decide for itself the right mix of tools and technology to achieve results that are measurable and environmentally effective…We must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people…”
George W. Bush, September 2007
Economic growth…economic prosperity…But, I ask you, whose economy is this ?
It’s certainly not an economy that works for the poor, even in the United States. Citizens of the United States are commonly working too long for too little each day, and many are suffering social deprivation, health problems and unrepayable debt.
The fact is, that despite uttering what appear to be lofty aspirations about putting in place policies to contain and reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions, voluntary measures will not protect the economy, or the climate.
Climate Change will continue unabated unless clear global regulations are put in place, and the damages from Climate Change will exacerbate poverty around the world, both the poverty of incomes and the impoverishment of the environment.
Climate Change is already crippling food production, trade systems and the basis of the “economy” beloved of the US President.
It is no good to believe that free trade policies can continue to promote development, when the environmental foundation of production is being destroyed, and the trade with it.
It is no good saying that the American Economy must not be compromised by efforts to tackle Climate Change, because if the Americans do not accept a certain cost to their measures, and a certain cap on their emissions, then the Climate Change damages will wreck their economy, in their own country.
At some point, the paradigm of economic growth will break down.
What will the Americans do when their balance of imports to exports is permanently negative and they have no means to reverse it ? As they squander their resources of fossil fuels, and burn more and more of the global supply as well, their wealth is being eroded.
As their fields of grain and corn turn to dust because of excessive heat, lack of water and disease, how will they feed themselves ?
As they have to divert ever-increasing sums into homeland disaster recovery, and fulfil their international obligations in Climate Change emergencies, how will they continue to afford the development of energy-efficient technologies ?
Need I mention that these things are happening already ?
Technological research is being squeezed, food production is in danger, problems with oil supply are regular news and imports have overtaken exports in many sectors for the last few years.
The US President thinks he presides over a healthy economy, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
It is ridiculous to continue to assert that Climate Change must be tackled without some cost – all that technology he proposes will require a good deal of investment, diverted from economic production.
By talking about energy efficiency and new technology, the President of the United States is denying the science – that we must not merely have better machines : actually we must run less of them.
The Americans, just like the rest of us, must start to accept that they need to ration their consumption. This means a contraction of the energy-dependent economy, including industrial manufacture, good transport, personal transport, high-energy home equipment.
It means using less fossil fuels.
If they do not, there will be no economy left to speak of in a very short time.
Economic insurance policy ? Renewable energy, energy demand reduction measures, re-localising public life, small food production lots in every town, home insulation, electric cars, natural building ventilation, regional and not national companies.