Provocation #2019 Draconian moves?
“Since London passed legislation declaring a state of climate emergency all indicators have gotten worse.” In particular increasing the ppm of CO2 in atmosphere. Public anger and concern are growing with no solutions (that both scale and make an adequate difference) in sight.
Since the public discussion is increasingly reflecting a sense of despair that we will not do anything but drift, this provocation is based on the idea that we need to be thinking through the issues that arise from that consensus.
We are facing many simultaneous challenges, and not responding very well. Climate heating, population, migrations, weakness of governments, failure to distribute the benefits of society. This is the dilemma: doing nothing will have a bad end and all the adequate proposals to actually do something grim. We need what in boating is called jettisoning: throwing overboard unneeded stuff in order to keep afloat. We need to explore the real possibilities of what to jettison. Proposed solutions to global heating: sequestration, solar panels, nuclear power, vegetarianism, all take too much time and expense to manufacture and deploy to scale such solutions. Economics 2500 years ago meant Estate management. Now we need a new sense of managing our current globalized estate for the good of humans.
We are acting as though we can prevent the triggering of climate change, but the cause is already in the past and once the gun is fired we you can only deal with the consequences. We have relied too long on a mix of technology, free markets banks, representative government and media – and the result is a serious failure. Can we, with common sense, technology, cooperation, and care, do better?
This is a serious hit on a public that already feels it has no place in the elite technical futures (who needs workers?), and whose income has, by staying level for decades (in the US), actually means declines because of the rise of necessary expenditures – iPhone and longer commutes. The press also reports on money spent to protect seaside wealthy communities.
Politics may be one of the most difficult parts of getting us to a better future. As of now, scientific consensus is that we need a major cutback on the use of fossil fuels. How can that be done? It seems like it requires an agreement among all of us because if some resist it would weakening the impact of any group decision. But politics has come to be guided by partial interests, not social reality.
If we have just a few years to act (if even that), we need to make some critical moves. Draconian moves (small violation lead to major punishments). Politicians just are not going to do this – yet. So, draconian moves will be necessary that might force the public, society, and institutions to move toward a different way of living.
Here are several of many possibilities of draconian moves.(Remember the scientific view is that we must cut fossil fuel use, not b6 2050, but soon, now. and we are not doing it.)
As of the first of next month, no more air travel. Well, many people are not at home, but traveling. Do we allow them to return? If they all tried in the days remaining in the month there are not enough flights to do this. And how many would game the system? And would the ground and flight crews show up? Of course the legal response. – well. But this is the kind of action that will be needed to shake up the system and force a move toward meeting the 2 degree (or perhaps 1,5 degree) goal. The FAA could do this, though legal responses would happen in hours.
No fuel for trucks as of next month. No food delivered at any distance. Total chaos within 48 hours. (Or within minutes of the announcement. ) part of our failure of governance is it is not clear that this could be done, even if necessary. Perhaps Food and Drug in concert with the Interstate Commerce Commission could do this.
No going to jobs that are not contributions to survival . Who decides?
No fuel for heating homes. Must use electric appliances, not gas. How many? Who manufactures that many with a manufacturing process that does not also contribute to CO2 emissions? And who pays for the individual new appliances house by house??
If a home can’t be heated, why pay the mortgage? Banks fail. Cascading effects are going to be more than the number of words in today’s newspaper.
Politics as we know it cannot deliver these effects. Could a popular revolt? And would a popular revolt have such goals in mind, or merely use violence to get the resources to continue a few more months, days??
A popular revolt would be met by the power of the state – if the national guard would show up. Unlikely. The draconian moves would lead to local chaos which would lead to the emergence of mafia-like local strong men “We provide you with security, you provide us with goods.” If there are any left after 48 hour.?
This is grim, yet only by seeing it can we imagine alternatives, and maybe not even then. You should believe that many groups: wealthy, military, corporate, are having these conversations.
But, need we be reminded, without something like such draconian moves the result will be the boiled frog. Inaction also leads to cascading failures. Imagine the workers at the electric company walking away from their jobs.
Politics is about conflict, and to avoid politics is to hope there is no conflict. But politics has been since Aristotle recognized as the way society handles actually existing conflict. The history from tribe to monarchy to plutocracy to parliamentary and representative democracy is attempts to deal with conflict in a reasoned way. We are in that incomplete process. The unfinished French Revolution seeking liberty, justice and equality, or the American version life liberty and the pursuit of happiness have left us with self-protecting elites which want to avoid the passion of serious change.
My own view is that amidst the terrible predictions it is important to keep working on the best plausible solution, which I think is some combination of agriculture and civilization, what I have called Gardenworld. Food will be the most important task as ecological destruction increases, Our spirit needs to be hopeful and aesthetic, growing food and people in the same attractive environments is something to hope for and work towards. We do our best. That has dignity to it. If we fail, so be it. No guarantees as those living in past collapsed empires know. But just maybe we can wiggle through. Then the task continues with the next generations. But even wiggling through requires a near immediate stop to all use of carbon fuels.