Note — Nov 21, 2021

Surface Tension

Perhaps, like me, you’re on-again, off-again with regards to George Monbiot. I quite like this one which might be seen as a wrapping together of many of his ideas, looking at climate tipping points, complex systems, mass extinctions, and general ‘doomage.’ He also considers that media is generally not paying enough attention to the climate crisis, micro-consumerist bollocks (MCB), and the various campaigns to shift the blame to us lowly citizen-consumers.

It’s a good read and a quite holistic view of the situation, something I seem to have a need for recently. More importantly, he introduced me to the term limitarianism and to Ingrid Robeyns, both of which I’ll have to investigate further (pointers welcome).

In the back of our minds, there’s a voice whispering, “If it were really so serious, someone would stop us.” If we attend to these issues at all, we do so in ways that are petty, tokenistic, comically ill-matched to the scale of our predicament. […]

But we seem unable or unwilling to break the surface film. I think of this strange state as our “surface tension”. It’s the tension between what we know about the crisis we face, and the frivolity with which we distance ourselves from it. […]

The looting takes place not just across geography, but also across time. The apparent health of our economies today depends on seizing natural wealth from future generations. This is what the oil companies, seeking to distract us with MCB and carbon footprints, are doing. Such theft from the future is the motor of economic growth. […]

We need to pursue what the Belgian philosopher Ingrid Robeyns calls limitarianism. Just as there is a poverty line below which no one should fall, there is a wealth line above which no one should rise. What we need are not carbon taxes, but wealth taxes. […]

While there is not enough ecological or even physical space on Earth for everyone to enjoy private luxury, there is enough to provide everyone with public luxury: magnificent parks, hospitals, swimming pools, art galleries, tennis courts and transport systems, playgrounds and community centres.