Everything is ‘business at the expense of animals, people and planet’. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is hope – really! And even if you don’t have a fair voting system like PR near you, you can still make a big difference.
Most conventional politics revolves around the economy, with a focus on economic growth. Every MP you see on TV practically starts talking about ‘creating growth or returning to growth’. This means that as long as GDP increases (at the expense of everything), it doesn’t matter. The planet and animals are seen as commodities to be bought and sold, and in the eyes of GDP, this helps to increase revenue. But of course this also causes suffering, and a mentality of ‘buy, buy, throw away’ that can’t continue on a finite planet. A few examples:
- The Exxon Valdex oil spill caused millions of wildlife to die. But the clean-up operation brought millions of dollars into the economy, so was seen as ‘good for GDP’.
- If people get sick and people commit crime, this creates economic growth in the form of building more hospitals and prisons and ‘creating more jobs’. Of course, the ideal is really for people not to get sick or commit crime in the first place.
- If toilet paper is made from Boreal forests until they disappear (along with all its wildlife), then this is seen as ‘good’ in the eyes of GDP. Far better to choose more sustainable materials or make bathroom tissue from recycled paper.
So which parties are into ‘zero economic growth’? Not many. The Green Party likely has the best policy, but they are still a bit obsessed over Green New Deal projects (building more wind turbines to create jobs, rather than just focus on living simply, to use less energy). It’s far more important really for individuals to take the lead: live simply, don’t watch or listen to ads – basically avoid ‘going out to spend in shops’ like politicians tell us! For more info, visit Center for a Humane Economy which wants an economy that puts animal welfare at its midst. Look up ‘environmental record’ at They Work for You which will show which ones voted for badger culling, HS2 (that will kill 20,000 wildlife a year’ if built). Live in the US? Look up local reps at Humane Scorecard.
Nearly all governments focus on ‘economic growth’ which in real terms means ‘buy, buy and throw away’ in order to increase GDP. This means that they put money over everything else – even during a worldwide pandemic, people died because governments encouraged us to ‘eat out and help out’, rather than keep people safe.
Look at all the hoo-ha about the export of sausages to Northern Ireland re Brexit. Most people are just thinking ‘why don’t people just stop eating factory-farmed sausages?) and support local organic farmers instead. The talk of how to live export creatures, without considering that it’s wrong. Prisons and hospitals buy in the cheapest factory-farmed foods, in order to retain the best profits. Supermarkets place animals in hellish conditions, to eek out profit for ‘economic growth’ in a capitalist society. So in effect, changing economic policy to one that puts welfare over pound/dollar signs, is one of the most important things to do on earth.
Read The Case for Degrowth and visit Happy Planet Index (a nicer alternative to GDP – UK and USA are nowhere near the top, the winner here is Costa Rica, that protects its rainforests and wildlife, and got rid of the military budget to spend on education).
Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save The World shows that the answer to the current crisis for our planet, is to shine a light on the ecological breakdown and reject the system that is causing it, and bring our economy back into balance with the living world, and build a thriving society for all. We can change course, and act now.
GDP Just Encourages Consumerism
Most of the wealth in the world is concentrated in the hands of a few at the top. This is not about communism, with everyone earning the same. But it’s about proof that ‘trickle-down economics’ (which argues a few people get rich and give jobs to the great unwashed) does not work.
Money is not important in one sense. But in other ways it is. Without money, you can’t afford good food, vet care, a nice home and time to relax. The problem is that now consumerism has taken things so far the other way, we are destroying the planet. GDP means a growing economy, which comes from buying things to throw away, so that people can get richer producing more things.
I would like to tell you a few things about this virus, and the lessons it should teach us. Fish have returned to the Venetian canals, the clouds of air pollution have dissipated. (but) all this civilization wants to do is to get back to normal. Normal is cheap flights and cheap lattes, normal is Chinese girls sewing our T-shirts under armed guard, normal is biblical bushfires and barrels of oil, normal is city breaks and international conferences and African children poisoning their bodies sorting the plastic we have dumped on their coastlines. Paul Kingsnorth