Economic policy

These 5 Economic Policy Changes Would Help Us Live in Harmony with God’s Gift of Life | earth beat

Our “human capacity to transform reality”, Pope Francis emphasizes in Laudato Sí’, “must go hand in hand with God’s original gift of all that is” (LS 5). My earlier comment on Pope Francis’ call for degrowth, or radical abundance without economic growth, highlighted how global economic structures and a monoculture geared towards capitalist “growth” – the insistence on relentless economic growth – destroy the planet.

This commentary proposes five areas of public policy to facilitate the transition from a destructive growth economy to a “circular” economy that regenerates the cycles of nature and the Earth by eliminating waste and pollution, and by reusing, repairing and recycling products and materials.

Like the environmentalist Vandana Shiva Explain, capitalist growthism does not view the Earth’s natural life cycles, such as its powerful hydrological water cycles, as valuable until a company like Coca-Cola extracts water from the Earth and creates a bottle of water or soda. The obscenity of this anti-life system is that water extraction counts as “growth”, even as the bottling process destroys the Earth’s hydrological cycles and impoverishes local economies.

The fossil fuel-based economy of the Global North is so far beyond Earth’s limits that ice sheet collapse, massive forest loss (including the Amazon), abrupt changes in ocean circulation, and the loss of biodiversity are probably irreparable according to the sixth assessment report of the scientific working group of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in early August.

As the ecological anthropologist Jason Hickel explains in his primer less is more, degrowth does not primarily consist of reducing GDP; more importantly, “it is about reducing the material and energy throughput of the economy and bringing it back into balance with the living world, while distributing income and resources more equitably, freeing people from unnecessary labor and investing in the public goods that people need to thrive.”

“Flow” is the flow of energy and resources into and out of the economy and nature. The problem with growthism, especially in the Global North, is that its debits mean more air pollution, mineral extraction, habitat destruction, carbon emissions and more climate degradation, more of ocean acidification, more water pollution and an ocean in which there can be more plastic than fish by 2050.

Here are five areas of public policy that can be developed to facilitate a post-growth and regenerative economy:

Put an end to planned obsolescence. If we want to live in balance with the living world, we can start by finishing”planned obsolescence“, the practice of “deliberately shortening the useful life of a product by a manufacturer to increase consumption. “American industrial designer Brooks Stevens popularized the term in the 1950s, describing how “our whole economy is based on planned obsolescence”.

Instead, we must consciously control what resources we use and how. Hickel recommends a “right to repair“, which makes it illegal for companies to produce things that cannot be repaired. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development suggests an additional option, go to leasing where companies provide products and maintain them to ensure long life and shared use. Finally, we can demand that any new product meet ethical ecological standards that facilitate the regeneration of the Earth’s natural cycles.

cut advertising. According to a recent studyadvertising plays a key, albeit indirect, role in climate and ecological degradation by encouraging “materialistic values ​​and goals, the consumption-driven cycle of work and spending”, which are in “contradiction with the priority given to the transcendent, to the greater than oneself” objectives involved in the protection of the environment.

Scientists to inform that advertising and economic wealth compound the problems of a consumer-driven economy by exacerbating social and economic inequalities and leading to increased use of materials, energy, water and land. For example, Hickel explains in less is more that clothing retailers are now designing clothes to throw away so that consumers buy new ones to keep up with the latest fashions. The problem for the planet is that “materials use in the garment industry has skyrocketed to more than 100 million tonnes per year, and the use of energy, water and land soared.”

Sao Paulo and Paris to prove how reducing outdoor advertising or completely banning advertising near schools promotes human and environmental health. Other cities, such as London, England and Grenoble, France, have replaced advertisements with trees, public art and community notices.

Move from ownership to use. Moving from ownership to use of products and services is an essential way to move towards a circular economy in harmony with the Earth’s life cycles. If 10 neighbors share a lawn mower, for example, this reduces the demand for lawn mowers by a factor of 10, while saving time and money for all neighbors. Localities that expand shared use can also significantly reduce landfills and waste. Reducing the total number of cars through shared use and expanding the public transport offer most effective means to reduce the materials and energy needed to move. To create a bicycling infrastructure and culture also improve health and mitigate climate change.

No more food waste. Project Drawdown, including mission is to reach “the point in the future where levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop rising and begin to steadily fall…as quickly, safely and equitably as possible,” find that “the global economic, environmental and social cost of food waste is estimated at US$2.6 trillion” and “generates unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and wastes both water and land, which has a negative impact on natural ecosystems”. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations offers 15 advice to help people “make non-food waste a way of life”.

Reduce environmentally destructive industries. The World Resources Institute found that cattle ranching is the largest industry contributing to global deforestation. As Hickel puts it, “the Amazon is literally burned for the sale of beef,” but “beef accounts for only 2% of the calories consumed by humans.” Other environmentally destructive industries that should be curtailed include armaments, private jets, single-use plastics, SUVs, construction of “McMansions” (the size of homes in the United States has double since the 1970s) and commercial airlines.

Last but not least, eight degrowth experts recommend “reduce excess flow in the North and increase necessary flow in the South so that energy and resource use converges to per capita levels consistent with universal well-being and ecological stability.”

This set of policies offers the possibility of living “in accordance with God’s original gift” of life and love (Laudato Si’). The hope for life and its regeneration is in our hands.