It’s the great taboo of our age – and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanity’s undoing
‘The mother narrative to all this is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.’ Photograph: Alamy
Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham.
Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems. It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.
To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.
Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained. But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.
Global Climate Change
With our wide disparities in income and educational opportunities, of criminal justice outcomes, and with overt and subtle political repression, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Cay Johnston has called the US “the most unequal of developed nations.” Johnston, the bestselling author of Free Lunch, Perfectly Legal, and The Fine Print, has now edited the collection Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality, which brings together economists, politicians, journalists, and scholars to investigate this culture of inequality, and–most important–what it holds for our country’s future. Thanks to Seattle Town Hall and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility Watch Pirate Television in King County channel 29/77 Mondays 8-9pm, Thurs. 1-2pm, & Sun. 1-2am PST or streaming live on Seattle Community Media. Pirate TV streams several times a week on Puget Sound Access. Pirate TV also broadcasts on Free Speech TV: Details listed in FStv Schedule. See also: FStvPirateTV Website, Pirate TV Archive: www.PirateTVSeattle.com
The issue of inequality has irrefutably returned to the fore, riding on the anger against Wall Street following the 2008 financial crisis and the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the super–rich. The Occupy movement made the plight of the 99 percent an indelible part of the public consciousness, and concerns about inequality were a decisive factor in the 2012 presidential elections.
How bad is it? According to Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Cay Johnston, most Americans, in inflation–adjusted terms, are now back to the average income of 1966. Shockingly, from 2009 to 2011, the top 1 percent got 121 percent of the income gains while the bottom 99 percent saw their income fall. Yet in this most unequal of developed nations, every aspect of inequality remains hotly contested and poorly understood.
Divided collects the writings of leading scholars, activists, and journalists to provide an illuminating, multifaceted look at inequality in America, exploring its devastating implications in areas as diverse as education, justice, health care, social mobility, and political representation. Provocative and eminently readable, here is an essential resource for anyone who cares about the future of America—and compelling evidence that inequality can be ignored only at the nation’s peril.
Uploaded on Nov 10, 2008
Talk by Thomas Linzey, attorney with Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) speaking in Seattle February 10, 2005.
Part II of this talk…
Published on Sep 18, 2013
Thomas Linzey, speaking at MUM, Fairfield, Iowa on Wednesday 9/18/2013
Thomas Linzey, Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, will present a new paradigm to protect nature — a paradigm based on rights. Today, communities across the country are finding they don’t have the right to make critical decisions for themselves — such as the right to say “no” to fracking, “no” to factory farming, “no” to smart meters, and the right to say “yes” to sustainable energy and food systems. Mr. Linzey has worked with the government of Ecuador to write a new constitution, which grants nature the inalienable rights necessary for its preservation and evolution.
Global Climate Change
Published on May 30, 2014
Rev. William J. Barber (will reschedule if B w/B goes here)
Thom Hartmann talks with Rev. William J. Barber, Pastor- Greenleaf Christian Church, President of the NC NAACP and architect of the Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina.