Fighting climate change and poverty in the Third World at the same time?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

old adobe buildingThe myth that we can mitigate and even overcome climate change by using more and more renewable sources of energy and at the same time can, under the banner of the New World Order to “improve security”, eliminate poverty and inequality in countries of the Third World is just that, a myth. We can't.

If every person in African, Latin America, Asia, had only roughly the average European standard of living we would hardly be able to breathe any longer on this Planet of ours.

There can only be one solution and that is that the so-called West, that is to say Europe, North America and the Antipodeans, has to get down to the level of consumption of those lower consuming countries of the Third World and not the other way round. In plain language this means that the West has to tighten its belt.

If we, in the West, think that we can carry on consuming the way that we do and bring others up to our standard of consumption – but apparently that is what industry in the developed nations is looking for in order to sell more to people in those countries – and still believe that we can do something meaningful about climate change, emissions and pollution, especially by using wind, solar, and other such renewable energy sources, then we are going to be in for a very rude awakening. It cannot be done.

It is not us bringing the others up to our level of consumption, because that is what really is meant by politicians if they talk about improving the living standards of people in the Third World, that needs to happen but it is us, in the so-called West, who have to lower our standards and change our way of life. But I know that this is not a message that people and especially not governments and corporations want to hear. In this case we can't have our cake and eat it and the others too.

Yes, we can do something about climate change by means of renewable energy sources and reducing other pollution, and also help people, at home and abroad out of poverty, but only if we in the developed nations, change our ways of consumption, of travel, of working, of manufacturing, and also of farming.

For the upper and middle class those changes will not be easy as they have gotten so used to having everything they want and more and more of it when they want. Those of the lower classes, on the other hand, who, even in our rich societies, have always lived from hand to mouth, should, theoretically, but many are also being brainwashed into the consumer society, have it easier to deal with this, seeing that they have had little, and personally I count myself in that group, being staunchly proud working class.

We must stop buying into the myth, perpetuated by the powers-that-be but really should not be, that we can mitigate and maybe even reverse climate change by means of renewable energy while still carrying on with the status quo or even further growing our economies, while at the same time lifting the people in Third World countries out of poverty to almost the same standard of living as ours. Already the former, on its own, if not going to work. Combined with the latter it will not at all.

Already now the “West” needs the equivalent of two to four Earths to support the consumption and living standards of the people, as far as (non-renewable) resources are concerned. Has no one noticed that we do, however, have but one Earth?

Now scientists claim to have discovered that one should be able to grow potatoes on Mars. Really? When were they there to test that? They should rather concentrate their efforts of research and developments to improve things here on this Planet. We can't emigrate to those other Planets, so let's stop playing around there and concentrate on this Planet that we have as the only one that can support and sustain human life.

We, in the “West”, must reduce our consumption by at least three-quarters (please note that I said by at least three-quarters) in order to work with renewable energy sources only for renewables, wind, sun, etc., cannot support our current energy consumption and ever larger wind-farms and solar-arrays are not the answer. We must reduce our consumption of energy dramatically if renewables are to keep the lights on. But, it can be done. It just needs lots of changes. And especially changes in the way we, even as individuals, do things.

We, in the “West”, cannot have our large cake and eat it and expect countries in the Third World to bake a cake of equal proportions and have them eat theirs and still expect that everything is going to be fine. That is not going to work and happen. We will have to reduce the size of our own cake significantly if other are to have an equal share of what we will have then.

The changes that we will have to make will be, and that is by word of warning, drastic and they do not just mean a reduction in what we consume and how we consume. It will require changes to how and where we live and work, how products are made and especially they need to be sustainably made, made to last and be repairable. Also it will require a change in agricultural practices and in the way we farm and the size of the farms. Downscaling and downsizing are the operational words.

Downscaling and downsizing also as to the size of our homes and the kind of homes and/or returning to the multi-generational home, as was the way not all that long ago when grandparents, parents, and children lived under the same roof (and, in those days, also worked in and from the home often) is also something that will be required.

Furthermore the land needs to be worked in a different way and scale again with many more but smaller farms, with a greater biodiversity, diversity of crops being crown and our woods need proper management of the old style. Our countries need, first and foremost, to grow food for the market at home before considering even the idea of export.

The most important changes, however, must be made in our consumption for we cannot continue the way we are going, in the “West”, and expecting that others can follow suit without exploiting the Planet to such an extent that the Earth can no longer support human and animal life.

Having our cake, as said, and eating and expecting Third World countries to bake a cake of equal size and eating it and expecting no problems is dangerous in the extreme. Without change the Planet will no longer be able to support us. It already is having serious problem in that department and it has less to do with the size of the global population than it has with the way those in the so-called developed world, aka “the West”, are living and consuming.

© 2017