Saturday, 5 April 2008

Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die

Ever since sustainability became 'fashionable' and entered the mainstream - over the past year or two - this song has been kicking around in my head.
What am I getting at?
Most of us have good intentions. Flush once a day. Use more moderate settings on the reverse-cycle. Separate our waste (and maybe even value add it through a compost bin). Minimise using the car. And so forth.
Simple, good, enviro-friendly stuff.
At this level, society has no problem with sustainable practices.

However (and I don't enjoy pointing this out), in the current global context most of this stuff is feelgood tokenism.
Yes, I consciously and actively boycotted 'Turn-Off-Your-Lights-For-An-Hour' Day.

Face facts. None of this micro-behaviour will deliver a more liveable planet - that is, 'heaven' (what it was at some stage and what it still can be) - unless we are prepared to change our MACRO-habits.

Face facts II. OUR beloved market economy is working continually against a sustainable planet by inciting us to spend, consume, replace, upgrade … whatever it takes, including accumulate debt and, yes, fuck up the future.
As a society, what are we doing to resist?
(It's OUR economy at the end of the day, since it couldn't function without us.)

You tell me.
What is sustainable about buying a new car (or computer or TV or whatever) every three years?
Without delving into the issue of increasing fuel prices, I see a nett benefit in the disincentive to consume. HOWEVER, as long as work-related vehicle expenses are tax-deductible there is no real disincentive for many, is there?

Don't get me started on discounted airfares!
Can anyone else see the elephant in the room? (She's wielding a baseball bat.) Where is the disincentive to consume?
Look, I'm not out to spoil the fun - and everyone is entitled to travel now and then - but a single extra flight, created from the demand / supply relationship, probable cancels out dozens of lifetimes of 'micro-improvements'.

Many posts ago I wrote a little on the subject 'governments just don't get it'.
Well, they don't.
As they toy with sustainability - spraying our money around on warm, fuzzy confabs - they remain paralyzed like rabbits in the floodlight of the Future train.
Addicted to revenue, they desire both a boom economy and a green future but can't decide which is more important. WTF??
None of them can get its head around the compelling need to enforce lower consumption … by reducing production first and foremost as well as by implementing genuinely progressive policy and proactive legislation.
Interest rates and the stock market don't exist to serve people; governments do.
The market economy is simply not sustainable. Further, since it's largely managed by profiteers servicing an addiction to overconsumption, it simply can't be trusted.

When the carrot approach doesn't work, get out the stick.
Example: legislate to remove tax-deductibility from all unsustainable business practices.
Example: as with fuel, tobacco and alcohol, apply a massive (non-deductible) 'excise' to airfares and inefficient vehicles.

To get to 'heaven', we all need to 'die' a little.

[Phew! That was exhausting. I wanted to briefly address 'carbon trading' from my Backyard point of view, but that will have to wait for another day.]

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