It’s rare to see this so baldly stated. The alternative to climate change is that we all remain poor:
Can we fully absorb the scale of the climate crisis without becoming paralysed by fear? This is a big question, with more than one answer. But it helps, I think, to recognise the extent of the challenge to our imaginations. The Indian writers Arundhati Roy and Amitav Ghosh have expressed this best. Roy used the image of a mountain filled with valuable bauxite to ask whether we could ever care enough about our environment to leave resources in the ground. Last year she spelled out her belief that the answer goes beyond politics, since what is needed is an “imagination that neither the left or the right has. To decide how you’re going to manage without” the wealth derived from mineral resources.
The problem with this “managing without the wealth” from emissions is that humans just tend not to want to do that. Thus any system containing human beings which relies upon such won’t work. Because, you see, humans.
What we humans actually want, this being derived from the centuries and millennia in which people have observed what humans do, is to be as rich as possible within the physical constraints imposed by resource availability and the technology available to transform those resources.
A system of remaining poor just won’t work. We peeps aren’t like that.
Creativity is not the exclusive preserve of artists and writers. But if one of the difficulties that humans face – as we confront the prospect of choosing between climate chaos and drastic reductions in emissions – is working out how to live in this parallel universe of radically reduced consumption, then surely they can help.
There isn’t actually any need for the radically reduced consumption, which is good, because humans won’t do that anyway.