I’m seeing the tone change around climate change, and that’s a good thing! And yet, collectively, we keep ignoring the sign post that says “danger ahead”. Our foot is still on the gas, and in most respects, we’re speeding up. Millions of people are rightfully scared and I often get thanked by my readers for putting their feelings into words. And while I try my best to change how people see the problem, sadly, my views are still firmly in the minority. The vast majority of “reality-based people”, those who haven’t fallen down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, still seem relatively comfortable with our imaginary capitalism-protecting pathway to climate stability.
I wish I could pinpoint why we’re not getting it. Apathy. Fear. Indifference. Maybe it’s capitalism inspired selfishness? Who knows? I’ll leave that to the psychology experts to sort out. But I do know that the extent of inaction with regard to our climate emergency is alarming. If we didn’t have extensive science to rely on then maybe we could plead ignorance, but the science is exhaustive and beyond reproach. We know exactly what’s needed to protect our climate — immediately scaling back the fossil fuel industry and forcing corporations to pay for the harm that they cause. But it’s not happening, instead, our leaders are putting on a grand performance and pretending to do the heavy lifting, and for the most part, we’re going along with it. We’re giving life to this illusion by pretending that everything will be OK if we just take the “prescribed” medicine that’s being peddled to us by our corporate controlled leaders. For now things may be relatively stable but we must never forget that no matter how much green capitalism Kool-Aid we drink, nature is keeping score.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand and say — enough! The fantasy ends now. No more inane conversations about new business strategies or reporting standards that can protect our climate in ways that won’t “offend” corporations and billionaires. The truth is that soulless corporations are going to be plenty offended because there’s a simple equation that we can’t escape. When corporations are forced to pay for the social and environmental harm that they inflict on society, it’s going to cost them BIG. Maybe they’ll be able to pass those costs along and maybe they won’t, but either way, it’s going to hit corporate earnings and shareholder value, and it will fundamentally impact the stock market. Let’s face it, it’s going to affect all of us but there’s no other option. We tried to believe the green capitalism myth but, big shocker, it didn’t work. And meanwhile, all this wasted time looking for magical ways to protect corporate earnings with green solutions has only taken us closer to a looming climate and ecological nightmare.
No More Half Measures
It’s time for hard truths and harsh medicine. There’s no more time for half measures. The prescription that the elites have peddled to address climate change while protecting corporate earnings has been a bust. Ideas that claim to be looking out for all of us by protecting Wall Street, Oil Companies and corporate profits are a ruse. Those ideas are influenced and funded by those who have no interest in, or no concept of, how to protect our climate. It doesn’t matter who the messenger is or how sincere they sound, the ideas are toxic to life on this planet and when we hear them we need to call them out. We need to label these ideas for what they are — a distraction that’s been carefully inserted into the discourse by those who stand to lose the most wealth and power from immediate and decisive climate action. At this late date in the climate fight, half measures dressed up to look meaningful with skillful propaganda offer us only one thing — certain pain and suffering. It’s time to go all-in. We’ve got the fight of a lifetime on our hands. As Yoda would say, “Do or do not. There is no try”.
We’ve been trying to work with the corporate sector for decades and we have precious little to show for it. In a recent article, I wrote about how we never really understood who was sitting across from us at the climate negotiating table.
“We assumed that we were debating with the prevailing thinking of the day but that was just an illusion…we never had an honest negotiating partner…”
And unfortunately even today I still don’t think we realize just how futile our climate negotiations are.
“…we’re not even negotiating with a human….We’re negotiating with an ideology (Capitalism) that feels no remorse about destroying the planet to achieve goals that are completely at odds with the continuation of our species.”
And this is where we needed to excuse ourselves from the table and begin to find other ways to protect our planet.
“…we were essentially negotiating with ourselves because capitalism doesn’t negotiate — so we just ended up accepting less and less. We took small meaningless wins and celebrated them but we weren’t making any meaningful progress…and that miscalculation has led us to where we are today.”
We need to break free from the delusional fantasy that we’re being offered anything that resembles a pathway to climate safety! We need to take the gloves off. Our corporate controlled negotiating partners, which includes politicians and even ENGO’s who receive corporate funding, are not our allies and they’re not our friends. We need to think of them as enemy combatants. What else would you call an entity that’s negotiating for the increase in their own wealth and power at the expense of the planet?
The mainstream ideas that are being fed to us all lead to dead ends because they all presume that our way of life is the best way to live and that it’s untouchable. But that can’t be true because our way of life is destroying the planet. So we’re at a crossroads.
We Must Reject Failure
We need to reject the propaganda that promises, magically, that capitalism will usher in a new green era of wealth and prosperity. We need to reject the idea that we can maintain the same wasteful and destructive system as long as we power it with renewables. We need to reject the feel good capitalist stories that distract us from the heavy lifting. Stories like how electric vehicles, being sold to a tiny fraction of the 1%, sold into a vast sea of CO2 spewing vehicles, will somehow meaningfully improve our planet’s ecosystems. This is little more than capitalism celebrating itself.
It’s time to reject the mainstream channels that have failed us, and really commit to change. It’s time to step it up or to suffer the consequences, and try living on a planet with rapidly failing ecosystems.
Global Earth Rebellion
We need to establish a Global Earth Rebellion like the one that NASA Climate Scientist Peter Kalmus @climatehuman described in his recent interview with Treehugger, which I strongly recommend. Here’s a short excerpt:
“If the White House wanted to, they could subsidize gas for working-class people, but they’re not doing that. They could seize the assets of fossil fuel corporations and collectivize the industry and ensure that the ultra-rich don’t make windfall profits off of the energy crisis, but they’re not doing any of that because there’s not a willingness by the rich to redistribute wealth to the poor. To me, there’s no way out of this without a redistribution of wealth and that’s why I believe we need a Global Earth Rebellion. I don’t see another path.”
There’s no more time for half measures! We need to mobilize people. We need them to realize that this is our last stand and that if we don’t give it everything we have, we’re going to be suffering in oppressive heat with terrible hunger pains, wondering what was so important that we didn’t try harder when we had the chance.
This article is also published on the author's blog. Energy Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Energy & Sustainability writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.
Brad Zarnett is a Sustainability Strategist, Writer & Speaker based in Toronto, Canada. His research explores how business as usual capitalism fails to protect environmental and social capital, and what we can still do about it. He manages a Substack Community, and can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.