Mentioning that Macalla is a farm is important because, as Dr. Jason Bradford points out, the future will be rural. As carers of the land and local producers of organic food, we are part of a sustainable system that help cut carbon emissions and preserve biodiversity, and have been for many years.
But this is no longer enough. We also need to engage in action to end political inaction in the face of what we now know is a climate emergency that demands immediate and drastic action.
We all have to take responsibility for the future of our planet.
For too long, we have delegated this responsibility with politicians, hoping that they would boldly regulate and legislate in order to stop climate chaos. In most cases, these politicians have let us down repeatedly. We have known at least since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 that action is needed to curb greenhouse gas emission but the “actions” taken at political level are woefully inadequate (the Irish government couldn’t even bring themselves to increase the carbon tax in the 2018 budget). It is clear that we can no longer wait for a politically acceptable solution to the crisis.
Ireland has the third highest level of carbon emissions per capita in Europe, and these continue to increase. The Climate Change Advisory Council has consistently stated that the current level of the carbon tax in Ireland is insufficient to achieve our national climate change objectives and that any increase in carbon taxation should be accompanied by measures to address negative impacts on poorer households.
Indeed, climate change is a child of social injustice, and any sustainable solution to one will have to address both, see for example the 66 proposals for a social and ecological pact backed by the former French environment minister. The Irish government had hinted that it would increase carbon tax in last year budget, but U-turned at the last minute. Why?
Because of governments uncritical commitment to economic growth as the only guarantor of well being, development and prosperity.
Yet the most authoritative scientists tell us that unless global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times, the world faces extreme weather events, food shortages, wildfires, dying coral reefs, droughts, floods and poverty for hundreds of millions.
This doesn’t sound like well being and prosperity. Rather it sounds like misery for many millions of people. Yet, this is inevitable if we continue to view economic growth as the guarantor of our future happiness.
To avoid this impending climate disaster, the world economy needs a transformation of unprecedented speed and scale, involving far-reaching changes in society.
These changes need to come from the top down (and this is why we need to put pressure on the political establishment to question their commitment to economic growth) but also from the bottom up, because what is required is a complete restructuring of economic power and privileges, a wholesale shift away from militarism, and millions of people going back to the land. This isn’t politically acceptable at present because governments and businesses are committed to economic growth, so we clearly need to redefine what is acceptable in the light of what is necessary.
If politicians realise that they are answerable, not to the lobbies, banks and other businesses (who have been funding them for so long) but to the people who have elected them, and to the children of the world who are now demanding action, (and whose lives may depend on their decisions), they may find in themselves the courage to act more boldly.
People are right to be outraged that governments and businesses are putting profits ahead of people and the planet and must push them to face the responsibilities that come with the power they have.
But the change also has to come from the bottom up because power in a human society ultimately depends on a system of agreements and narratives within this society. It is our views, and not force, that empowers those in power, and ultimately scaffold the system. It is therefore by changing ours and others people views and narratives (in this case the views and narratives about economic growth and happiness) that we will ultimately change the systems.
We also need to sit back (may be on a meditation cushion), reassess the agreements and narratives that we have for too long taken for granted, and ask ourselves, what do we really need to be happy?
- Extinction rebellion Ireland
- Extinction rebellion International
- Friend of the Earth Ireland
- Green news.ie
- Stop Climate Chaos
- School strikes for Climate