Global Warming / Draft treatment of the issue for Chapter 4
By Yoann Le Guen at Jan 21, 2011
HelpAlbert ZGroup / Chapter 4: Here are some thoughts as a draft treatment of the issue of climate change using the framework emerging from the first three chapters.
I hope you can comment and that others will find it useful and try tackling other suggested issues: Unemployment, Wages, Welfare, Deficits, Consumerism, Elections, The Courts & Law, The Police and Military, Immigration, Affirmative Action, Fundamentalism, Abortion, Gay Marriage, Day Care, Resource Depletion, Wars, Trade, The Sixties, Revolutions, Others...
I took one approach using what I got from the first three chapters but I’m sure there are a lot of other ways to approach a particular issue and to use the framework provided by the first 3 chapters. I have left out strategies and alternative institutions for now as I understand this will come later in the book. Anyway it’d be good if people could give / suggest different ways of using the tools given in the first chapters etc...
Global Warming / Draft treatment of the issue.
The issue of global warming is about the increase for Greenhouse Gases concentration in the atmosphere (primarily carbon dioxide CO2) and its impact on the natural environment and the survival of current and future generation. Dealing with the issue is mainly about the imbalance between CO2 emissions and the capacity of the earth to absorb these CO2 emissions. Its impact on biodiversity also has a tremendous impact on the ability of human to feed its population now and in the future but I’ve left this issue aside here for simplicity. I focus mainly on the west because that is where I live (UK) and the west has the greater weight of responsibility by far on this issue.
1. Economic Sphere: The amount of CO2 emitted has a tremendous impact on future generation’s ability to survive. It would make sense for this impact to be reflected somewhere when decisions are made about what forms of energy are used, what processes are used to produce stuff, how much we produce and how much we consume of this and that, what .
One obvious place for this negative impact to be reflected could the price of the stuff for the consumer (whether it is an individual, a community, a region etc...). So if a lot of CO2 is emitted during the production of concrete or during the use of a car, then this material or this activity should be very expensive or unaffordable.
In our society, the price of such things or activity doesn’t reflect the impact it has on current and future generation. The same holds true for many other aspects such as pollution, hardship,working and living conditions, the impact on the natural world etc...
So the issue of global warming tells us there is something wrong about our economic system, especially with how the price of this or that is decided. So this points to the market as an institutional feature of the economy that is not fulfilling a critical function of the economy.
b) Deciding what is being produced, how etc...
So if producing some goods have such a negative impact on current and future generation, there should be a threshold passed which the goods are not produced at all. This leads us to asking the question who decide what is being produced. This points to the market again and to the large conglomerates such as corporations and trade organisations as being dysfunctional features of our economic system .
c) Who owns the land, the forests? What are the factors influencing land use?
If a land is privately owned the decision about its use or exploitation is left to the owner (the person with the piece of paper in a draw). When the capacity of land to absorb CO2 becomes critical it is crucial for decisions about its use to be made democratically and sensibly. This is not possible when land are privately owned. Private ownership is another feature of our economic system that needs be changed/abolished for this and many other reasons.
2. Political sphere: Within a functioning political system we would expect policies to reflect the urgency and the gravity of the matter our society is faced with.
a) Regional / National: Within a nation or region in a functioning democracy we would expect decisions to be made about how we can reduce the amount of CO2 emissions to levels which will allow human survival (and other species depending the level of environmental consciousness). Policies taken on this matter in the western world unfortunately reflect the influence of corporate lobbies and financial institutions which in a functioning democracy would have no or very minor influence on such decision. This highlight the fact these pseudo representative democracies are not functioning.
b) International: the globalised nature of this issue and of the economy mean that national governments can not or hardly make big decisions such as those required in isolation. That means the world population greatly rely on international political organisations such as the United Nations for effective policies on Global Warming. The failures on the Kyoto, Copenhagen and Cancun summits illustrates the nature of the world order: the United States as a dominating force or empire and the influence again of corporations and financial institutions. A closer look at these international organisations would highlight their undemocratic nature and the imbalance in influence between corporate lobbies and the will of the populations.
c) Public pressure and the Media: With a functioning media the issue of global warming would be a major issue in the public concerns. The low pressure from the public points demonstrates how badly the mainstream media is fulfilling its function.
3) Cultural Sphere:
I haven’t thought about this much so somebody else contributing on this would be great.
People who are already suffering and are most likely to suffer first from the consequences of global warming are people from the South. Racism once again plays a key role in the inaction of the western / white population to effectively deal with this issue.
b) Dominant western culture;
I would say that the western dominant culture has binge consumption, car use, entertainment, selfishness and the domination of nature as part of its features a bit like other cultures would have traditions, ways of relating to each other etc...
Some indigenous culture have sustainability and their relationship to their environment has central to their human activity. Mitigating global warming will require cultural change in the western world and looking at indigenous cultures looks like a good place to start.
4) Kinship Sphere:
a) selfishness between generation
In the west, it seems to me that even if there is still a strong notion of family, generations in many case seem somewhat selfish with each other. It is partly illustrated by the treatment we reserve to our elders. It is less so when we give everything we can or spoil our children. But what will happen to our children, what world will they live in does not seem to be discussed / thought about by parents or grandparents apart maybe for thinking about what education, career and income they may get. So maybe there’s something wrong or missing in our family values.
b) care about our children not others: The fact that parents care greatly about what happen to their children but hardly care about what happens to other children in their street, village, town etc... is also a huge problem when dealing with large issue such as global warming. Maybe this partly comes from living in nuclear family. I’m not quite sure but this looks like something to address. Maybe if parents manage to care as far as all the children in their town/village maybe there will only be a small step to caring about children in Iraq and Palestine or to caring about all world children who will suffer from the consequences of global warming.