Changing Perspective

Apr. 15, 2018

I know that the huge problems of the environment are not going to be solved by my recycling, growing some of my own food or driving a fuel economy car. If there was a train that took me to work, I would ride it. But that requires infrastructure beyond my control. It is a systematic problem. Even as I strive toward green behaviors, the petrol-chemical industry is running amok. The new head of the EPA, Pruitt, seems to be more concerned about corporate interests and getting rid of regulations that protect the welfare of people. But that is the game of capitalism.

From: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2017/jul/17/neoliberalism-has-conned-us-into-fighting-climate-change-as-individuals?CMP=share_btn_fb

"Trademark policies of privatization, deregulation, tax cuts and free trade deals have liberated corporations to accumulate enormous profits and treat the atmosphere like a sewage dump, and hamstrung our ability, through the instrument of the state, to plan for our collective welfare.

Anything resembling a collective check on corporate power has become a target of the elite: lobbying and corporate donations, hollowing out democracies, have obstructed green policies and kept fossil fuel subsidies flowing; and the rights of associations like unions, the most effective means for workers to wield power together, have been undercut whenever possible.

The capitalist economy had thrived on people believing that being afflicted by the structural problems of an exploitative system – poverty, joblessness, poor health, lack of fulfillment – was in fact a personal deficiency.

Of course we need people to consume less and innovate low-carbon alternatives – build sustainable farms, invent battery storages, spread zero-waste methods. But individual choices will most count when the economic system can provide viable, environmental options for everyone—not just an affluent or intrepid few.

If affordable mass transit isn’t available, people will commute with cars. If local organic food is too expensive, they won’t opt out of fossil fuel-intensive super-market chains. If cheap mass produced goods flow endlessly, they will buy and buy and buy. This is the con-job of neoliberalism: to persuade us to address climate change through our pocket-books, rather than through power and politics.

Eco-consumerism may expiate your guilt. But it’s only mass movements that have the power to alter the trajectory of the climate crisis. This requires of us first a resolute mental break from the spell cast by neoliberalism: to stop thinking like individuals."

Competitive self-interest and consumerism has unraveled our community bonds. America was founded on rugged individualism and changing toward a more community oriented mindset is going to be difficult. Especially when there are political and media influences that describe a community oriented society as socialism, which has negative connotations in many circles.  

Corporate economic systems are out of local control. Our global economy has really benefited corporations at the expense of people. Sustainable communities will necessarily be based on local solutions, local food and energy production. There are pocket communities that strive towards sustainability, but changing the world economy is a daunting task. It will require a change in our very values and mindsets.

Humans tend to be reactive, so perhaps it will take the collapse of the current system to begin with a better one that considers community long-term needs over short-term selfish personal desires.