Greta Thunberg, with a determination seldom seen in a child of 16 years old, told the UN this week that “we are at the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth, how dare you?”.
And it’s exactly this, the “fairytale of eternal growth” that we must be questioning in a radical way if we want to be honest about what is really happening with our planet.
In 1960, there were 3.1 billion people inhabiting planet earth, and today this has increased to 7.7 billion. This means that there are now 4.6 million more people on Earth and our population continues to grow by 155 people every minute according to worldometers.info, that carries out a birth rate count in real time.
By the time you’ve finished reading this, there will be 1500 more people on this planet. If the economic model that currently dominates does not change radically, the world might not continue existing as we know it by 2037 when it is estimated that there will be 9 billion people on Earth.
Here we present to you some ideas about the current crisis and why it’s urgent that we come up with a plan to halt the climate emergency.
The planet can’t take anymore
A Donald Trump that has certainly failed to understand Greta’s words at the UN Summit claimed that she ‘seemed happy’ whilst addressing world leaders this week.
The problem is the vision of Trump, which is shared by many millions of people around the world who wish to achieve the fortune he has.The planet can no longer take the levels of consumerism and pillaging of the environment that we have exposed it to until now, and this invasive model of growth that is uncontrollable will end up killing us all.
Climate change deniers and large transnationals who wish to grow and accumulate more capital at any cost are gaining ground before divided world leaders and populations
The idea of collective growth in terms of wealth and modernity has become a dystopian crisis today, and capitalism in the form of globalisation has led to a nationalist resurgence that is climate change denying in nature and extremely dangerous.
Authoritarian governments throw gas on the fire
The recent increase in authoritarian governments that appeal to many with their discourses of patriotism and ending migrant and commercial invasions from abroad are becoming ubiquitous and are destroying solidarity amongst populations.
“The world doesn’t belong to the globalisers, it belongs to the patriots!” claims Trump at the UN General Assembly. “The Amazon rainforest isn’t a world heritage site” proclaimed Bolsonaro at the very same meeting.
It seems like we’re trapped in an absurd competition between world leaders to see who can be the most macho, most patriotic, and the most protective of ‘their people’ at the expense of everyone else.
This defensive reaction is highly destructive and many are proposing radical actions to put an end to this crisis before it’s too late. Ideas such as post-capitalism, the green economy, circular economies, slow growth, degrowth, just ending the use of fossil fuels, clean energy and ecological transition... these are just a few of the proposals that have been discussed so far.
However, when all alarms are sounding, it would still appear that political will to take this crisis seriously is yet to manifest itself. Climate change deniers and large transnationals who wish to grow and accumulate more capital at any cost are gaining ground before divided world leaders and populations and the consequences could be devastating.
We need a plan
One thing is certain at this point: shortly, an important sector of the population will become aware of the seriousness of this catastrophe, and will begin to react and demand effective actions.
The Greta Thunberg phenomenon is in fact a symptom of the changes in consciousness of many, and the renovations that old environmental movements are experiencing in order to demand more governmental actions.
There’s little doubt that a global plan that goes beyond the Paris Accords and that depoliticises the debate beyond left and right ideology is necessary, and this plan should be honest and reflective in nature.
The global agenda mustn't be determined by ideologies, because sooner or later this crisis will affect all of us on this planet
The global agenda mustn't be determined by ideologies, because sooner or later this crisis will affect all of us on this planet, even those who, seduced by dystopian technological optimism such as decribed by Touval Noah Harari, believe that despite of global disruption the very wealthy will have a chance at survival and become... eternal!
We are currently overcome with a short-term form of thinking, and we’ve seen how economic growth and out of control development has successfully lifted millions out of material poverty and hunger over the last decades. Capitalism thrives off the idea of not worrying about the future if we’ll be dead, and to instead focus on the present and improving our particular quality of life here and now, no matter what, which is precisely the frame of thinking that must be tackled.
We need a plan to ensure our survival because, as Bruno Latour has stated in his recent book Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime , the powerful of the world have assumed the crisis is for real and that for them to survive they must abandon the idea of a common future. The have accepted catastrophe, and it would appear that they couldn’t care less. To Latour, "learning new ways to inhabit the Earth is our biggest challenge".
The power of Greta’s message doesn’t lie so much in her dramatic call to action, but in her capacity to place world leaders in front of the mirror and force them to confront their own vanity, lack of responsibility and suicidal arrogance.
The mobilisations that Greta has led over the past few days have made one thing clear: we need a plan!