LAST WEEK an article in the Financial Times stated simply and directly what most people can already see is bleeding obvious.
Growth and “green” are mutually incompatible on a finite planet.
Quite unusually for the FT, the piece didn’t sugar the pill with the obligatory happy ending asserting that Human Ingenuity, Technology and Progress will surely Find A Way to allow consequence-free consumption for ever and ever amen.
And it wasn’t written by some fringe-y climate doomsayer. The author is Simon Kuper, award-winning Oxford-educated, Paris-domiciled football writer, and respected FT columnist. A pedigree that could scarcely be more representative of the global media elite.
Normally his article, “The myth of green economic growth (£)” would have been available only to the FT‘s print readers and/or the 720,000 people with the financial means to scale its towering paywall.
On Saturday, though, another 250,000 folk like me got to read it in the i newspaper, which has taken to reprinting pieces from the FT in a content-for-promotion swap. Unfortunately, the i only put it in its print edition, not online.
Here are some snips:
“…we can be green, or we can have growth, but we can’t have both together.”
“The sad truth is that moving from dirty to green growth will take much more time than we have.”
“If green growth doesn’t exist, the only way to prevent climate catastrophe is “degrowth” now, not in 2050: stop most flying, meat-eating and clothes-buying until we have green alternatives, ban privately-owned cars and abandon sprawling suburbs.”
Kuper correctly answers his own question as to whether humans will accept degrowth as a prescription.
“We are not going to find out. No electorate will vote to decimate its own lifestyle. We can’t blame bad politicians or corporates. It’s us: we will always choose growth over climate.”
How many people do you know for example who have even heard of voluntary simplicity, let alone who practice it?
Green growth, the so-called Green New Deal, and “green consumerism” are oxymorons. The Green New Deal is cakeism elevated to a form acceptable to the neoliberal economic orthodoxy.
If we faced that fact honestly, there’d be some chance of unwinding our growth addiction without ending up fighting each other like cats in a bag.
One might wonder why a bastion of growth-at-all-costs economics like the FT would publish Kuper’s article?
Perhaps because the establishment feels it has little to fear from occasionally telling the truth to a select and still largely insulated-from-climate-worries audience.
Especially when the establishment can count on fully co-opted and docile bastions of green consumerism like Treehugger to put journalists like Kuper in their place if they go off-piste.
Treehugger—slogan: “Driving sustainability mainstream”—responded to Kuper’s piece by torturing logic into knots to tell its readers he was indulging in a a form of denialism.
If I’ve got this right, then Treehugger, acting as the voice of “mainstream sustainability”, is saying that if one DOES believe climate science, and cares deeply about the environment, but you DON’T believe that we can consume our way to salvation rather than trying to live more simply, you’re a denialist.
If you think I’m being harsh on Treehugger here, check out their site navigation hierarchy breadcrumb leading to the section containing the review of Kuper’s piece:
Business > Environment
Everything you needed to know about the Green New Deal’s priorities in two words.