Climate Change: Whose Living Standards Will Change Drastically?

Mesa Verde

Response to: Finding the Truth behind the American Hologram (CoIC)
"Now can you imagine the outrage when they are told they have to drastically reduce their living standards to prevent catastrophic climate change..."

I find this to be a false flag. Perhaps the top 5% of households by income in the wealthiest nation states who would experience this "outrage." Why? Because they are the households that do the larger share of polluting with their lifestyles and who own and benefit from shares in the large corporations raking in profit from the current system. For the rest of the human population of the planet, that would not be the case. How do I make this assertion? Mostly from my own life's efforts to reduce my own carbon footprint, and seeing how easy it is do in many areas. And from an understanding of how the current economic system functions.

We live in a society that has decided that it is preferable to go out and purchase something new and ready made or as a kit rather than craft it from items already on hand, already available. This is one of the factors that drives our consumption. People have lost the understanding that the creativity involved in using what one already has on hand, the process of crafting something unique is very fulfilling process of learning and growth. It doesn't matter whether the "items on hand" are fall leaves or plastic yogurt cups, humans have an innate creativity that our consumptive society has blunted into choosing products to define oneself. Re-using and repurposing items is simply a different habit, it doesn't reduce quality of life -- in fact, it may enhance quality of life.

Another example can be in transportation or appliance use. Building brand new electric cars is a large expenditure of natural resources, involves destroying native environments where the lithium is being extracted, and oil in the plastics for the parts. Alternatively, we could keep the cars we already have running well, make parts for them, and engineer new cars that are designed to be repaired and upgraded, so that cars are not designed to be junked after 5 or 10 years, but rather used for a few decades. The same could be done for our appliances. "Quality of life" is not diminished by repairing and upgrading existing products rather than endlessly junking old ones for new.

Single-use plastics are rampant. Does quality of life diminish when we use paper or other simple compostables for disposable items and in other areas increase our use of reusable items? Yes, there might be a few more people with jobs washing dishes in our restaurants, but that is a vast improvement over oceans polluted with plastic. Do the items we purchase really need to be packaged in clear plastic, or any plastic at all? Humankind existed without disposable plastics for millennia -- is our quality of life truly bettered in a significant way by using disposable plastics, rather than using either older methods (beeswax infused cloth, or a rubber seal with a glass lid and metal enclosure) or a reusable newer method (a flat, thin silicone disk or silicone seal with lid and metal enclosure) rather than plastic wrap to cover a food dish in the refrigerator?

Of course, the economy I'm describing here is one that would not be pushing for endless consumption. Without endless consumption, we cannot fulfill capitalism's need for endless expansion of the economy. Without endless consumption, we cannot fuel a monetary system that grows by creating new debt for every dollar (or other form of currency) created. The greatest beneficiaries of the current economic system are those who sit towards the top of that pyramid. And, yes, those who currently sit at the top of the economic system would experience an enormous shake up in their lives as they found themselves without the economic power they currently enjoy. That is why it is so difficult to change our current system, and move towards significant carbon reduction. To do so would require a different economic model, with different outcomes, no need for endless growth, different economic priorities. And a shift in priorities would disempower those currently in power.

But, please, don't try to tell me that we are stuck with this mess because the majority of the people are too addicted to Walmart, Amazon, and Dollar Tree to change their spending priorities. Advertising has been driving the priorities of "the consumers" for a very long time, and advertising is paid for by those who profit from it, and profit from the behaviors it engenders. Advertising (a flavor of corporate propaganda) could be used in a widespread way to encourage behaviors that reduce consumption. But what economic titan in the current system would fund that type of widespread advertisement?

In the past hundred years or so our chemists and physicists have found myriads of ways for us to manipulate carbon molecules into a plethora of uses. Do we really suppose that if we re-purposed those minds to manipulating other types of molecules, ones that have a less deleterious effect on our planet, that this wouldn't work? Do we have recourse of action to address climate change and eventually reverse it? I believe that, yes, there is cause for hope. But not with the economic and political status quo. I could make a call to revolution -- but I don't have to, because the seeds of destruction of the current status quo are already all around us. Yes, it would be wise to voluntarily go down the path of creating a new economic system that is not based on endless growth on a finite planet -- some humans are pioneering this route -- but, unfortunately, history shows that very often change does not happen in a smooth, linear fashion. Change often comes about with large disruptions and violence, because people with power are usually loathe to lose that power. Yes, the people in power right now would experience "outrage" with a migration to an economic system that sees themselves with diminished power. The rest of humanity, however, might breathe a collective sigh of relief.