Leigh Phillips and the 'eco-austerity'

Eco-Austerity: The Greens and The Left vs Digging and Values

Recently The Guardian presented the readers with real gem from Red Pepper science writer and journalist WordPress: Leigh Phillips titled “The Guardien: Why eco-austerity won’t save us from climate change“.

In this writing Mr. Phillips, lumping wide variety of eco-friendly and conservationist movements together with political ideologies on the left, arrives to the conclusion that talking about unnecessary and resource wasting consumption (over-consumption) is not only inappropriate, as the wast majority of people living in the so called ‘developed’ countries consume much less than they need, but also harmful for the prosperous future of humanity. He confidently states that “The truth is that we can stop climate change and deliver expanding wealth for all.”

What seem to be missing from his train of thoughts are only the appropriate reasoning and any scientific evidence supporting his discovery. The apparent contradiction between living in a finite system and delivering expanding wealth for ever growing population is something which does not even worth to think about.

The term ‘eco-austerity’ in his writing is intended to serve as a stigma on everything and everybody, which and who do not support and in favour of growth- and profit-centric view of the world. In his interpretation the secret to saving the world from climate change is “above all, large amounts of cheap capital”. Because “An entrepreneurial, risk-taking, mission-oriented public sector got us into space, and it’ll be the same sort of public sector that saves the planet.” The globally recognizable Tragedy of the Commons seemingly does not concern Mr. Phillips.

There is another humble, nearly undiscoverable writing titled Cultural values of digging from Farida Vis and her team from 2014 January is also about the subject eco-austerity, referring to it from completely different aspects. It highlights the fact how important it is to use scarce resources wisely and how it can create cultural values. This study is much less propagandist and more thoughtful to find long lasting values.

10 thoughts on “Eco-Austerity: The Greens and The Left vs Digging and Values

  1. Venkatasamy Rama Krishna

    Sure, we live in a world society that consumes more and more, and would like to consume even more, not because they actually choose to do so, but simply because businesses entices them to do so, and force them that accomplish that “feel good” feeling. Left to businesses alone, the planet would be denuded of all its resources. What businesses do not realise is that once this happens, they will disappear and so would humanity. Businesses only think about today, but need to realise that permanency of existence is more important than temporary needs.
    I would say Mr Phillips does not see beyond the tip of his nose and that he too has been blinkered by the business agenda…profit before people and planet.

  2. Krishnan Srinivasan

    Phillips’ emphasis in the last paragraph exudes a positive hope that refined technologies can and will lead to a downward consumption or change in the consumption pattern for good. What the world needs now is a golden median, not a compromise with several obstacles in one go. Hooded horses definitely will not visualise the issues. Extremism will lead us no where – naturalism (a newly added ism) included. Civilisation is unidirectional. Conservation is for sustainability and not to push one into a self denial mode. We do need a comfortable life with the best utilisation of resources – natural inclusive. Polarised economic weapons do dissect the society. Here the theory of averages won’t work. The have everything group will not part with ‘some thing’ to the have nothing, for long, though theogretical assumption and text- bookish expressions create a mirage. Global equity is far more a dream – a day dream?. Business is not for charity primarily but certainly should be charitable to the required extent. Relinquishing a major part of the assets accrued, after reaching the nadir is due to realisation that money cannot buy happiness. At that point, looking at the sparkling eyes of an African child consuming a slice of bread gives more than satisfaction to the soul of the westerner. Mind you, even the richest on the earth cannot provide just one meal for one day to all the humans!!. But nature has been doing it silently – time immemorial !!!. So, the presumption that marginal adjustment of Homo sapiens will lead to remarkable recovery in a short span is incorrect – all the more for climate change and biodiversity. But then, we have to go on a correctional course in the right direction, to ensure a better life for the next few generations at least . That way Phillips justifies – and certainly not dictates.

  3. Venkatasamy Rama Krishna

    That “correctional course” is what businesses have been fighting against, and even harder now that the Paris Meeting appears to be yet another threat. Lobbyists and deniers are highly rewarded for for supporting “the cause.” We are already into the age of corporate governance, so the U-Turn cannot be expected. The next best thing, at least to my mind, that could happen would the the collapse of capitalism, as it is today.

  4. Krishnan Srinivasan

    Well, if capitalism fails, just like communism, what “ism” will be left out for the mankind to follow? A co-operative system is not possible on a common platform where the US and Sudan will be equal. Salute to the GDP, GNP concepts in deciding the fate of every nation. Barter system is outdated and impractical. So business has to go, traders have to be there as long as “needs” have to be fulfilled. Life itself runs on give and take formula. Inequality – social, economic, cultural and economic – has the final say. I don’t know which type of governance is still left- to experiment -if corporate also drowns. One thing is certain – pseudo communism or its cross breed will result in catastrophe. Apportioning of natural resources on a universally acceptable formula – to my perception – is next to impossible. We can get on top of the tallest tower and shout principles – should there be one to respond. Things are easily said than done. Only when economics and ecology go hand in hand – we can opt for equality. Till then ecologists will be croaking frogs in the minds of economists. We will remain a sphinx and get focussed on the fovea of policy makers who are necessarily with resource mobilizers.

  5. Michael White

    OK here’s a deeper thought: is any form of government actually necessary? We have various flavours ranging from full-on dictatorships to blind-mice following some ‘democratically elected’ leader. As soon as in power they ignore the proletariat. Reason I’m asking this is because we pay money to these people (taxes etc) for them to do exactly as they please. We see TPP signed on ‘our behalf’ yet we’ve had no input, did not agree, and our protests largely ignored. What would I like my taxes to be spent on? Nuclear weapons, mass destruction of civilians in the Middle East, bee-killing pesticides, or universal free education and a green abundant environment powered by renewables?

    If consumerism is so damned smart why can’t it pay for itself? How much stuff do people buy in ‘shopping world’ that they rarely use ~ future global pollution? The advertising dream. Mike

  6. Venkatasamy Rama Krishna

    We certainly have moved from different types of governments until we reached the acclaimed one called democratism. And now we are into the age of corporate governance. The message is now consume, consume and consume, until there will be nothing else to consume but ourselves.

  7. Krishnan Srinivasan

    Thanks friends. Government is for governance and NOT for profit making should be the core value. We have forgotten it long ago. Maritime trade efforts have led the powerful minority to invade far flung lands. The new found riches in Africa and Asia, acquired by governance have been lavishly spent in wonderlands. Masters of the land became slaves in their own country sub serving the traders. Now only the losers have started to realise. Which form of governance is ideal is the basic question still!!. We have tried some permutations and combinations. But all these worked in favour of one or the other and never for common good. The poverty stricken African continent is rich in every resource. Till the last straw is consumed by the Great, exploitation will continue. One Corporate Manager – here – said — what use of a diamond in the beggar’s bowl?. The trader gave two slices of bread and a religion in exchange of a diamond. It continues – in some form of the other. The educated local elite asks : When I can exploit you, why should I allow an outsider do it”. That’s the beginning of the end. You may call this as pessimistic but we humans learn only after a self-invited catastrophe.

    1. Michael White

      Thanks Krishnan. Reason I asked is that nobody on Earth knows what I want apart from me. I know what I like and cherish; which things are important. You were right too in your opening statement ~ government is for governance. Looking round the world right now I see Vladimir Putin doing a good job, Mahendra Modi not bad (but just lost an election); no one in Europe or USA worth a hoot. Aussie & Canada just changed …

      Removing Parliamentary immunity would be a great step forwards ~ take the blighters to court when they misbehave πŸ™‚

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