Press Democrat 9/16/2013
Wow! Talk about organic and close to home. I have just finished reading a book entitled “The Great Disruption” by Paul Gilding who was CEO of Greenpeace for 20 years and is now a sustainability consultant to multinational companies.
In Sunday’s PD there were four articles: “Contrarians’ Viewpoint” states that in the worst case scenario there will be “jarring financial chaos” and a steady decline in global living standards caused by unsustainable debt and the end of cheap oil; a “Close to Home” article by Jane Vosburg pointed out that to avoid global catastrophe and preserve the planet we need to stop the fossil-fuel companies from spewing CO2 into the atmosphere and convert to sustainable energy sources; a Paul Krugman article “Failed policy wrought years of tragic waste” on how a lack of government stimulation caused a slowdown in economic growth and unnecessary unemployment; and an article “Vote near on energy zoning changes” on Sonoma County renewable energy development.
All of these articles touch on points covered in the book. Global warming caused by CO2 is real and it will eventually make our planet uninhabitable; “Peak oil” will make fossil fuels so expensive it will collapse the world economy; the world’s growth economy is fast using up the planet’s resources; we need a new system that will provide for near full employment; we have to build communities
that can function in an era of limits; and it will take geopolitical action to convert to sustainable energy sources.
Gilding argues that what we have to do is change from a growth economy to a steady-state economy which is not predicated on retail shopping. The reasoning goes that by converting from a consumption growth economy we will stop chasing our tails in the pursuit of more and more stuff and spend the extra time we will have giving back to the community thus creating a better quality of life. He states that studies show that this type of life style will make us happier since we will have to work less and our creative free time will promote the positive evolution of mankind. Taggart feels the best place to be when this social upheaval happens is in Sebastopol.
A steady-state economy would convert a majority of jobs from growth oriented companies to cooperatives. Cooperatives now employ one hundred million people worldwide 20 percent more that multinational companies.
As Taggart, Martenson and Vosburg point out “peak oil” and continued CO2 emissions will collapse the global economy and destroy our planet as we know it. If we let this ecological and economic collapse happen Gilding says it will take an effort as massive as America’s entrance into WWII to save the planet. Fossil fuel companies will have to be wiped out and replaced with an enormous investment in sustainable fuel sources.
The alternative, as all sources point out, is to start the conversion off fossil fuel and change our life styles now. We need to divest ourselves from non-sustainable energy companies and invest in companies that could produce innovative solutions. For example, Freecycle Network’s seven million members give away unwanted useful goods to each other which reduces landfill waste and the need to buy new stuff. In Australia, the 1 Million Women Campaign was founded with the idea that since women make 70 percent of the consumer decisions they should take the lead in reducing carbon emission by taking simple easy steps.
In planning for local renewable energy development Sonoma County supervisors and city councilpersons seem to be providing the stated leadership that will be necessary to survive and transcend The Great Disruption.