This article looks at the failure of politicians to take a systemic view that connects economic activity and consumer preferences with effects on the environment. The politicians seem to favour economic ‘progress’ despite unfavourable, now extremely serious and destructive effects on the support systems provided by the natural world for human society. Easter island is used as a previous example of the collapse of an economic system that destroyed its environmental support system. Pro-environment US President Jimmy Carter proved unable to beat Reagan who, like Trump, promised to “make America great again”. The author uses meat eating’s global effects on climate as a current issue that politicians are afraid to face.
“…democracy has never been very good at tackling the global issue of environmental degradation. Instead politicians often go to great lengths to avoid the topic. When they do engage, they do so begrudgingly, putting all their rigour into a division of responsibility that excuses themselves to the greatest extent.
On the whole, democracies are dominated by chronic short term decision making. And while they often act as safeguards to individual human liberties, democracy, and its preference for compromise, are often part of the problem when it comes to the environment – the biggest issue of them all.
Politicians avoid the reality that only immediate alterations to human behaviour can prevent this crisis. Put simply, the planet urgently needs more compassion for the environment and much less individual ego.”
A further illustration of economics trumping environment relates to the needed transformation of farming:
“It is widely agreed that today’s global agriculture system is a social and environmental failure. Business as usual is no longer an option: biodiversity loss and nitrogen pollution are exceeding planetary limits, and catastrophic risks of climate change demand immediate action.
Most concede that there is an urgent need to radically transform our food systems. But the proposed innovations for more sustainable food systems are drastically different. Which we choose will have long-lasting effects on human society and the planet.
Suggested innovations in food systems can be broadly understood as either seeking to conform with – or to transform – the status quo.”
After outlining the contrasts between fossil-fuel-drive, industrialised, financialised, corporate high-tech agriculture and regenerative localised agroecological farming, the authors ask:
“Do you want to live in a world in which artificial food is produced by intelligent robots and corporations that put profits before people? Or one where agroecological innovations ensure we can nourish ourselves and our communities in a fair, ecologically regenerative, and culturally rich way?”