A new study backed by NASA warns that, much like the Romans and Mayans before us, our elite power brokers may be driving us towards a cliff as the 1% vacuums up wealth and natural resources:
The NASA-funded HANDY model offers a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations and business – and consumers – to recognise that ‘business as usual’ cannot be sustained, and that policy and structural changes are required immediately.
Although the study is largely theoretical, a number of other more empirically-focused studies – by KPMG and the UK Government Office of Science for instance – have warned that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a ‘perfect storm’ within about fifteen years. But these ‘business as usual’ forecasts could be very conservative.
Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed details how past empires kept driving towards the cliff, even when the edge was in sight. It happens in part because the people at the top & in charge are wealthy enough to insulate themselves from the crisis until collapse is almost complete.
This study warns we’re repeating history as our leaders keep us burning our entire supply of fossil fuels that took hundreds of millions of years to accumulate – coal, oil and natural gas – in the span of just a few generations. Even as the cost becomes apparent and both the climate crisis and global inequality accelerate, for those polluting oligarchs, the answer isn’t to change course, it’s to double down – see the Koch brothers pouring their vast polluting fortune into the 2014 elections or Vladimir Putin seizing natural gas facilities in Ukraine.
But who’ll call them on it? Democrats and environmental organizations are heavily dependent on the wealthy elite for funding, so Democrats rarely talk about inequality and environmental organizations talk about the effects – global warming, polluted water, disappearing wildlife – not the causes.
It’s a reminder that climate science denial isn’t at all about science – it’s a cover story for the true campaign by wealthy polluters like the Koch brothers to scare the rest of us away from solar and wind energy, which build wealth not at the top but at the household and community levels.
Cross-posted from The Green Miles