Freesteel Blog » The Politics of Green Policies

The Politics of Green Policies

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 at 11:47 am Written by:

The first paragraph in the Green Party manifesto (the long version) says:

Life on Earth is under immense pressure. It is human activity, more than anything else, which is threatening the well-being of the environment on which we depend. Conventional politics has failed us because its values are fundamentally flawed.

We have a problem if talking about the future sounds unrealistic. The future is here today as much as the past is. Those houses they’re putting up across the road should stand for 50 years. There are children born today who will live to see the end of this century. Seen on this scale, the result of this general election will be but a minor statistic. But what effects will it leave behind?

Let me tell you about economics today. The people who make the most money out of it have the loudest voice. Remember the cabin crew strike from four weeks ago? There was an immense amount of coverage over a trivial pay dispute, breakdown in industrial relations, the profits of a favoured British corporation, the inconvenience of passengers who had to book tickets with other companies.

Then an invisible cloud drifted over from Iceland and grounded all the planes going into and out of this country. That put the whole thing into perspective. Life goes on, except for the hundreds of thousands of people stranded abroad who want to get home. (Isn’t it interesting no one talks about the people stranded at home who want to get away?)

The engineers who built the planes and the scientists who study the volcano say this is how it is. And we don’t expect them to invent a special metal coating that can be applied to jet engines to make them resistant to volcano dust.

So when scientists say global warming will do this and this and this, and we need to do that and that and don’t expect us to invent some new technology no one knows about to make the problem go away, why don’t we take them at their word?

Although this volcano began to be active last month, no one was predicting the later eruption on 14 April which caused all the disruption. If these hundreds of thousands of people stuck on the other side of the Channel knew this was going to happen, do you think most of them would have cancelled their tickets? Instead they’re waiting for the British navy to sail over and rescue them — if they can fit any passengers on-board between the multi-million pound Harrier jump jets and assault weaponry that don’t seem quite as useful as we imagined they were going to be.

A little more concern for the future can go a long way. But at the moment you can make a lot of money by not predicting the future and not responding to it, because the economy is not fair. This pattern is across the board, but we can see it most obviously in the financial system where the very people who drove the system to a crisis point are now wealthier than ever before. It’s not fair. As long as it remains unfair, it will never get better.

The ecological crises that are facing us are immensely powerful and predictable. If we do not respond to them appropriately, we will find ourselves in a place we never wanted to be. We need to think seriously about it. It’s not fair and it’s very dangerous that politicians who do not want to deal with it continue to have successful careers. Because if we get it wrong, it’s not going to be a matter of inconvenience of not being able to get home on time. There won’t be a place to get home to.

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