Can we save the planet without a revolution?

Can we save our planet with a revolution?

How much risk of making things worse from a revolution?

Another post promoting revolution to save the planet, from Damon Rusden at Pundit – Can we save the planet without a revolution?

The short answer is no; the long answer requires an explanation of what form that revolution will take.

I don’t know how he can be certain about that. Revolution implies drastic and rapid changes – I don’t know how many governments will risk going down that path.

After protests in France over fuel tax increases the Government there has just suspended the fuel tax – French PM announces suspension of fuel tax hikes after ‘Yellow Vest’ protests

The backpedaling by President Emmanuel Macron’s government appeared designed to calm the nation, coming three days after the worst unrest on the streets of Paris in decades.

“No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger,” Philippe said, just three weeks after insisting that the government wouldn’t change course in its determination to wean French consumers off polluting fossil fuels.

A more pertinent question is whether revolution is possible without provoking counter-revolts. France just tried one tax rise, hardly a revolutionary step.

Rusden:

We all know we’re shafting the planet, and headlines every other week are making sure we don’t forget. As another Conference of the Parties (COP) conference kicks off this week – this time in Poland, this time called COP24 – we have been warned that decisive action in the next two years will be crucial.

The real problem is the solution; collectively we are still failing to meet our climate targets (by a lot) even after the heralded Paris Agreement and a global consensus on the dangers threatening us as a species. The issues need to be placed in the context of survival, because that’s what is causing this zero-sum game. The survival of our existing economic paradigm or the entire biosphere.

We cannot continue to be aware of the risks which come as a cause of climate change and believe that changing our coffee cups, picking up litter on a Sunday or buying solar panels will subdue the wave of destruction that is approaching.

This battle is not one we can win individually, nor can we afford to be content with micronized solutions.

There are many practical solutions which are put forward. A change of consumption is one method. Less meat, less agriculture, more forests. While this seems a feasible solution, it is simply too slow and too mired in development debate.

So if we accept that it is our imbedded, ‘extractionism’ method of production which is destroying the planet, we as individuals are not at fault and we’re running out of time, what do we do?

Hold those accountable responsible. Whatever form this takes.

Prosecution of the genuine polluters – the oil companies, agriculture giants, unsustainable logging companies and political enablers. There is precedent in local and international courts, but there would need to be serious political will.

Pressure politicians. While some governments are moving in the right direction, no change has come about from a complacent public. Some of the biggest changes have come from a local campaign at a council level and climbed up the governance hierarchy.

As what has just happened in France shows, there can also be strong opposition to change.

There has been a concerted effort over the past decade or so to embed Green activists in councils at local level and try to generate a revolution from there, but even relatively modest changes like installing cycle lanes and removing car parks has been controversial and contentious.

There is growing annoyance here in Dunedin over the disruptions caused by putting in cycle lanes that are hardly used, while road traffic flow is noticeably getting worse.

Public demand for taxpayers’ money to be used exclusively for green investment; ACC and the Super Fund are billion-dollar investment portfolios and could have a real impact. Some banks and universities have also done so due to public pressure.

  • Boycott. As individuals we cannot do much; as a collective we can do more. Polluting industries will respond. Awareness campaigns across the globe prove this.
  • Strike. Workers are the ones who produce; if there is no production there is no pollution. Strikes are an important part of workplace relations and bosses will get the message.
  • Shut it down. Hard to argue this wouldn’t make it clear that we want an immediate transition.

All of this must be done comprehensively.

We cannot continue extraction, production and materialism on the levels we are now. We cannot continue to live in isolation, or pretend that unrealised technology will save us. We must radically change the way we function, at the source. With direct action. And we have about ten years left to do so.

That is not going to be easy (to get public support and to get Government compliance).

And there is no guarantee that any revolution would succeed.

Nor is there any guarantee that adverse reactions and unintended consequences won’t make things worse.

It has already provoked violent counter-protests in France.  That sort of reaction could get much worse.

The poor people of the world would become more vulnerable – they would bear most of the brunt of radical changes. Richer people can more easily afford to adapt (or avoid).

It would be a very risky experiment with no way of knowing what the outcome would be.


From Hawkes Bay Today last year: (Damon Rusden: Our reliance on a failed model) – Damon Rusden is a politics international relations and public policy student at Victoria University. He is the Green Party candidate for Napier in the upcoming general elections.

His views seem to have not been very popular in last year’s election – Napier electorate:

  • Candidate votes 1,386 (3.63%)
  • Green electorate vote 1,938 (5.00%)