Response to Climate Change
The Danish economist Bjorn Lombock argues for a carbon price of $100 to make a meaningful change in carbon consumption. Any less, he says, will fail to deal with the problem of carbon pollution ahead of changing climates. But –as the report points out - this price will cripple the economy!
Say this in another way – we can choose to have a depression due to carbon pricing or a depression caused by catastrophic impacts of climate change.
Economists are trying to put together a picture of a working economy for the future in a world of climate change.
Graeme Pearman CSIRO (Australia) said that we can reduce our carbon footprint by 20-30% relatively easily with adjustments such as new energy alternatives. Beyond that is difficult.
Ross Garnaut (in his climate change report for the Australian government) said that what is required is 90% reduction!
The bottom line is we can only do 30% reduction easily, but we have to make a reduction of 90%.
Or more dramatically – we can reduce to 70% of our present demand, but we need to reduce to just 10% of the present usage!
How can we make that adjustment?
I believe we have to discard the image of the modern industrial state as a model of our lives going into the future.
From the standpoint of Prout I think it is believable that our future can be rich and satisfying. But it might encompass huge changes that we have hardly started to recognize.
Usually when Prout is discussed other features are given prominence. But I would like to highlight one aspect of Prout which I believe is often overlooked – Agriculture.
“In order to build a sound economy thirty to forty percent of the people in an area – neither more nor less- should depend on agriculture” (P.R.Sarkar -Principles of Balanced Economy)
30-40% ! For those of us in the western world where we have between 4 and 7% of the workforce dedicated to agriculture this is surely a huge change.
P.R. Sarkar does not expound on the implications of this change for the many of us who are city living folk.
A world where agriculture has such universal prominence as this is not recognizable as a city as we know it!
What that means is that the cities of the world will have to restructure, be dismantled, move, depopulate or other wise adjust to the needs of basic physical necessities.
So in my mind I try to structure a picture for myself and family and community in which our suburban existence transforms into a rural community existence. Not just as a suburb alongside a city of a million people (Adelaide) but a ‘block’ on the outskirts of the metropolis reinventing itself as a self-reliant economy. No doubt a change like this will be chaotic.
Agriculture in the area beyond the suburbs here is dominated by wine grapes, beef cattle, olives. Little of it is meant specifically for local consumption. And what is in the shops has come from any and every corner of the world. How quickly can this be reshaped to make local production for local consumption?
Designing the block for the future is perhaps impossible at this time but let’s begin to shape our thoughts to accommodate this change when it becomes necessary.
And in the context of climate change let’s recognize that Prout’s block level planning provides an answer for the people who see the urgency of change but are offered only the creeping adjustments that will in no way be sufficient for the task at hand.