Graeme Maxton

Climate Change Economist and Author

Take small steps to make giant leaps

What Adbusters calls the DARK AGE SPIRAL is no surprise. Its center swirling, slowly, was obvious more than 40 years ago, to those who wrote The Limits to Growth. But not enough people listened to what was said. The politicians and businesses leaders wanted more – more growth, more people, more money.

So now we’re here. Widening inequality, widespread poverty, a virus pandemic which has been caused by disrespect for nature, and a generation betrayed. Oh, and did I mention the planet? That’s screwed too.

What to do?

A Peoples’ Revolution is an obvious option, but it will not work. Revolutions offer glamour, blood and history, but they are also indiscriminate in their destruction. Besides, the other side is too well organized, too well financed, tracking everything you do and heavily armed. The battle for our future will not be won, or lost, at any acceptable cost that way.

So, do nothing?

That’s not going to work either. It will either lead to war or several centuries of decline – for that is what social, environmental and economic collapse actually looks like. Societal collapse does not arrive with a cartoon-like BANG! and a puff of smoke. It is slow and painful, like a cancer. Without change, expect even wider inequality and even higher unemployment, because that’s where today’s economic system leads. Climate change will bring mass-migration and conflict.

Doing nothing will destroy the planet, certainly as far as most species are concerned, for thousands of years to come.

What’s the way forward?

We need a bottle of dark red ink to pour into the economic bath tub. Something that can create change by slowly expanding to fill the space, using natural eddies to transform the whole.

We need to work from within.

We need Occupy II, the rise of people-power globally, within the democratic system. But, this time, it must have very clear objectives and one guiding principle: to slow the pace of climate change by fighting for a transition that benefits the majority. This makes it harder for corrupted politicians and big corporations to ignore, making it possible to gradually shift the needle.

So, demand more paid vacation. Demand six weeks holiday a year for all. That would create enough work capacity to solve the unemployment problem in the rich world without any economic growth at all. If the government wants to print money, demand it be given to the 99% – not the bankers. Demand high taxes on resources and pollution, with the revenue given equally to the people. Demand low taxes on work. Demand high taxes on inheritance. Demand trade restrictions when they protects jobs and the environment. Demand a livable income for the poor, the elderly and the sick. Demand cutting-edge energy technology for the poor world, at the rich world’s expense.

Changes like these will gradually rebalance the system. They raise average living standards for the majority and help the poor, slim the fat-cats and slow the environmental genocide. They also buy us time, so that many more people can see that there is a better way.

Demand change that nourishes the majority, that gradually transforms the hue of the whole.

Take little steps, not big ones, to make that leap.

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Photo: edited from image made by Esad Hajdarevic

Demand change that nourishes all