True story: there’s a giant pile of “recycled” broken glass on a farm just outside my city for pretty much the same reason described in this article (i.e. China stopped buying waste glass).
The political project of neoliberalism, brought to ascendence by Thatcher and Reagan, has pursued two principal objectives. The first has been to dismantle any barriers to the exercise of unaccountable private power. The second had been to erect them to the exercise of any democratic public will.
At the very moment when climate change demands an unprecedented collective public response, neoliberal ideology stands in the way. Which is why, if we want to bring down emissions fast, we will need to overcome all of its free-market mantras: take railways and utilities and energy grids back into public control; regulate corporations to phase out fossil fuels; and raise taxes to pay for massive investment in climate-ready infrastructure and renewable energy — so that solar panels can go on everyone’s rooftop, not just on those who can afford it.
Neoliberalism has not merely ensured this agenda is politically unrealistic: it has also tried to make it culturally unthinkable. Its celebration of competitive self-interest and hyper-individualism, its stigmatization of compassion and solidarity, has frayed our collective bonds. It has spread, like an insidious anti-social toxin, what Margaret Thatcher preached: “there is no such thing as society.”
Martin Lukacs on collective action.
This is a long excerpt, but one that always bears repeating: individual consumer actions cannot address systemic issues, and convincing you they can is neoliberalism’s greatest trick.
Stop freakin’ falling for it.
Here’s a thought experiment.
Climate change is real. The effects of climate change are destructive. People die because of climate change. Businesses lose millions of dollars. Economies lost billions. Some countries are in danger of being completely obliterated.
So, keeping that in mind, should climate change denial be a crime?
It’s amazing how many people will reflexively balk at that idea,1 so let me put it another way. Should it be illegal–for a given definition of “illegal”–for tobacco companies to deny, or at least act as if they deny, smoking causes cancer? Because, spoiler alert: it kind of is, at least in practice (tobacco companies can’t advertise cigarettes as having “health benefits” any more, for example).
So, I ask again: climate change is real and climate change is destructive. Should acting like it isn’t–particularly in the course of enriching ones own interests–be considered criminal negligence?
- “Thoughtcrime!” cry the freeze peach bros who’ve never actually read 1984. [↩]
So you know how there’s that whole “97% of scientific papers on climate change agree anthropogenic global warming is real” thing? Which has the corollary that “3% of papers don’t”?
Well. Someone reviewed that outlying 3%. Guess what they found? No, seriously. You’ll be shocked, I’m sure.
Incidentally, I have a childhood friend who moved to the US as an adult and married a climate scientist. She (the climate scientist, also an ex-pat Aussie) got so sick of, basically, people at dinner parties being like “GEORGE SOROS CONSPIRACY!” that she retrained and got a job doing compliance for a Wall Street finance company. Oh, and also opened a hipster cafe in Brooklyn.
So you see? You see what climate denialism does? It makes otherwise perfectly nice academics get jobs in finance and contribute to gentrification! Talk about damaging effects…