This blog post is part of a regular series where I answer TableTopics questions. What's in it for you? Reading this answer may spark a new idea, opinion, or emotion. If this happens I would love to hear about it in the comments!!!
I believe that our current economic model is causing climate change, and destroying our natural world. It is true that I know many people who agree with this point of view, however the majority of people have a very different point of view.
So why do I think this? The economic paradigm under which almost everyone in the world lives has two main mandates:
- growth ought to be pursued as much as possible, and
- profit is paramount
Both of these mandates are completely at odds with the natural world. This is why our climate is changing, and why so much biodiversity has been destroyed.
The mechanics of this are quite simple. Endless growth cannot be supported by a world with finite resources. Each year that a growth strategy is pursued on a global scale means that more resources must be consumed. Because growth cannot occur without consumption, our planet bears the burden of giving more and more each year.
Unfortunately the planet cannot grow an infinite amount of fish, or trees, or clean water. It is true that science and technology are able to dramatically increase yields, however there are natural limits which make it impossible for the planet to keep give more year over year.
This causes climate change because our growth is made possible by burning vast amounts of fossil fuels. Thankfully, many people (including the United States government) now understand the link between burning fossil fuels and climate change. However, I fear that if our core economic system is not changed there will be little hope for combating climate change or the global destruction of biodiversity.
The other mandate of our economic system is to profit as much as possible.
Now I completely agree that people have a right to be paid for the value they create in society. However there are two main issues that we face today with the pursuit of profit. One is that a few individuals and corporations hold a majority of the wealth in the world (something which entire books and social movements are based upon). The other problem is that profit (money) is worshipped.
As I talked about in my TableTopic question what’s the most sensible thing you’ve ever heard someone say, I argued that money is an inferior goal to having time and friends. I agree that having a certain level of financial stability is necessary for a happy life, however the extent to which people chase money terrifies me.
Now I don’t think that humans are inherently bad, it’s just that we’ve chosen the wrong priorities. We have chosen to worship false idols.
I believe that money and endless growth are not what people actually want. At our core, we want to love and be loved in return. We also want to be happy, healthy, safe, and free from suffering.
While I’m unable to say what the optimal way forward is, I do know that massive shifts are taking place in the world. People are becoming much more aware that business as usual, in the long run, results in the destruction of everything that humans hold dear.
For the full list of questions + answers go to this post: 365 TableTopics Questions + Answers