Like most Greens, I typically jump at opportunities to go on air. Pretty much any opportunity: BBC national radio, BBC TV, Channel 4, Sky – I’ve done them all over the years, for good or ill. Even when, as is not infrequently the case, the deck is somewhat stacked against me, or the timing inadequate for anything more than a soundbite, or the question up for debate less than ideal.
This winter, now finally ending, has seen disturbing early signs of the Earth’s climate starting perhaps to go out of control. The fierce cold snap in the UK occurred because the Arctic’s normal weather came down here; meanwhile, the Arctic was off-the-scale warm.
It’s time we faced up to reality: humanity is almost certainly going to have to learn to live in a world that has been radically damaged and transformed by human-triggered climate change. We are – virtually all of us, either softly or (less often) explicitly – in climate denial. The greenhouse gases we have polluted the atmosphere with have already set us down a path of serious and possibly irreversible environmental disruption, and the prospect of technocratic rescue is as unlikely as it is worrying on its own terms.
Ideas for a Radical Green Manifesto
Introduction: the big picture
Green politics starts from the realities we now find ourselves in. Human beings are changing the planet in fundamental ways – altering the atmosphere and climate, reducing biodiversity and trashing ecosystems. This is the Anthropocene, and human impacts are going beyond the boundaries that have maintained the planet in a relatively stable state.
At the centre of human pressures on the planet are two forms of growth – economic growth and population growth. Both are powerful and complex forces.
Why a project to find common meaning in our common struggle to prevent climate-catastrophe deserves the name 'Apollo-Earth'
There is a mission brewing and building, a mission that needs all hands that are ready: To bring the 'un-named movement' - the 'for-life' story of our time - to a tipping point.
At the advent of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal force in the human heart: one very reasonably invites a man to consider the nature of the peril and the means of escaping it; the other, with a still greater show of reason, argues that it is too depressing and painful to think of the danger since it is not in man's power to foresee everything and avert the general march of events, and it is better therefore to shut one's eyes to the disagreeable until it actually comes, and to think instead of what is pleasant.
Electoral democracy has largely failed. It has been captured by big corporates, suborned and crudified (de-deliberationised) by the corporate media, and sidelined by neoliberal globalisation (and the consequent minute-by-minute power of ‘the markets').
Perhaps the most spectacular ever instance of the failing of electoral democracy has been very recent indeed: it is the election of Donald Trump to (what is still, even now) the most powerful office in the world.
This week, the front pages have been plastered with the news that trillions of dollars have been wiped off global markets, a dramatic shock which has been felt by all the main share indices worldwide.
The significance of these events depends on who you ask: some urge 'optimism', while others predict we may be on the cusp of a new Great Depression, at least as dangerous as the Great Recession of 2008, although different in kind. One thing is certain - we are entering a period of enormous uncertainty.
Spring 2007: the high-water mark of self-confidence for economic neo-liberalism. In March, both Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke publicly stated that they saw no danger of recession, and that the subprime fiasco had been ‘contained’. As late as mid-May, with the sub-prime crisis in full throe, still Bernanke felt able to say this:
Importantly, we see no serious broader spillover to banks or thrift institutions from the problems in the subprime market. In July, Paulson claimed:
This is far and away the strongest global economy I’ve seen in my business lifetime; and on August 1st,
I see the underlying economy as being very healthy. Neo-liberalism remained a movement triumphal around the world. No bunch of poverty-stricken mortgage-defaulters – who could conveniently be blamed for the little local difficulty – were going to derail this ideology.
We live at a point in history at which the demand for individual freedom has never been stronger — or more potentially dangerous. For this demand — the product of good things, such as the refusal to submit to arbitrary tyranny characteristic of ‘the Enlightenment’, and of bad things, such as the rise of consumerism at the expense of solidarity and sociability — threatens to make it impossible to organise a sane, collective democratic response to the immense challenges now facing us as peoples and as a species. ”How dare you interfere with my ‘right’ to burn coal / to drive / to fly; how dare you interfere with my business’s ‘right’ to pollute?” The form of such sentiments would have seemed plain bizarre, almost everywhere in the world, until a few centuries ago; and to uncaptive minds (and un-neo-liberalised societies) still does. But it is a sentiment that can seem close to ‘common sense’ in more and more of the world: even though it threatens to cut off at the knees action to prevent existential threats to our collective survival, let alone our flourishing.