Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The Separatist Threat

A guest post from Bill Henderson

It’s not just the economy stupid.

If there is one thing that all the participants and commentators of the constitutional crisis agree upon it is that the deteriorating economy requires attention from government. Where you are on the political spectrum and how the economic downturn is effecting you personally determines what you think government should be doing for Canadians. Various types of government stimulus are possible – What should our government do? What’s the plan?

But the economy is just one of a multiplying series of crises that each need urgent action from governments. The economy is just our major preoccupation. Overwhelming preoccupation with the need for government action on the economy is clearly interfering with government action on climate change, peak oil, the global food crisis, ecosystem and biodiversity loss, and the deteriorating international rule of law (aggression, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, failed states, etc.).

The proposed stimulus packages to reverse the downward  economic spiral may not include urgent action to mitigate any of these other building crises – the end of peak energy and the need to move to a post carbon economy, for example – and could in fact hasten the spiraling down speed of the biodiversity crisis, for example, as reinflating the consumer driven economy requires more ecosystem destruction to produce stuff.

Government action is needed to halt the downward economic spiral but the present self-centered, myopic, Church of Business overwhelming consensus is ignoring these other far more important crises that promise far greater danger to Canadians.

Climate change is the most pressing example:

The Arctic is melting; James Hansen and many more climate scientists are trying to tell Canadians that climate change is an emergency requiring immediate action NOW. Substantial emission reduction is required now before the ice cap is gone for good and before other latent positive feedbacks are triggered leading to runaway climate change threatening humanities very existence.

Not just slumping sales and markets, lost jobs and bankruptcies, but no economy period, and even no people at all, extinct along with most of the flora and fauna with which we presently share creation.

Government leadership and spending upon renewable energy and electrification of transport, for example,  could provide jobs in building a post carbon economy. Car industry bailouts and government spending on highways and bridges just helps to dig a bigger carbon footprint hole. Retooling of the auto sector can be aided by government in many different ways, with different probabilities of success and to very different end results.

Government stimulus to halt the economic downturn is presently seen within the conventional wisdom of re-inflating the consumer economy, but as well as protecting and providing jobs, government leadership could open up pathways to a much more sustainable economy which would not be adding fuel to these other global scale crises which we are presently ignoring.

Ironically, the leader who almost everybody now considers as the goat of the present ‘crisis’ is the only Canadian showing leadership in addressing these other pressing crises with his universally derided Green Shift, Green New Deal plan. Hey, but, of course – it’s the economy stupid.

Instead of merely trying to prop up and constantly reinflate the economy against the just beginning shocks caused by too big a footprint in a finite world – economic dislocation, resource wars, famine, degraded ecosystems and otherwise deteriorating natural systems including climate, etc. – we’d have to have a plan to escape the deathtrap of a consumer driven, service sector dominated economy.

And to seriously attempt to implement such a plan we’d need a coalition government which would have to include the most ignorant and psychopathic politician of our generation.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 6, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Posted in politics

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