We need to throw away the old box, not think outside it. We need to give up on the idea of continuous economic growth. Its costs are too high. We need to see the economy as a possession of the environment, rather than the other way around.
The green economy is more labour-intensive than the fossil fuel economy. It provides jobs to be a route out of our current economic difficulties. Globally, subsidies for fossil fuels are six times higher than for renewable energy. Imagine if that was refocused.
We’re stuck in an odd paradox. We have companies trumpeting their environmental credentials, even as the situation gets worse. Planes may be getting more environmentally focused – but as the planes get more green, their use goes up. It’s a net loss.
There are some signs of hope. No-one wants your products – they want the use of them. B&Q realise that people want a hole in the wall, not a drill. So why not rent them? The need gets met, but resource consumption goes down. A human-powered MP3 player that looks like a plaster… Skype and Spotify stop us using planes or the plastic for CDs. You can make carpet tiles from recycled yarn.
What would replace the mechanism of capitalism that requires endless growth? This is a dangerous idea. But growth is creating dysfunctional, unequal societies. Happiness does not reply on it – that’s about happy families, meaningful work and connected societies. Right now – unless there is growth, people lose their jobs, taxes drop and public services erode. We need a new macro-economic model that takes account of the limited resources of the planet. If the biosphere isn’t getting any bigger, the sub sphere has to achieve a steady state.
A steady state is not a failed growth economy. A helicopter is designed to hover. An aircraft… is not. We need a helicopter economy. We need the same amount of better stuff, not more of the same stuff. We need to reform taxation, working hours and practices, pay structures, It’s ambitious stuff – it need shift is attitude of politicians and the expectations of the public. We need to make the future we aspire to more positive than the fossil fuel driven one. We need enlightening people in business, in politics and in every walk of life.
Unless people like you care – nothing will happen.