Our world is facing a fossil fuel use induced extinction unlike we have seen in 250 million years. This one is happening so fast, and the cause is so singular it is beyond obcene how well the perpetrators are treated. The trick is that we are still existentially dependent on fossil fuels, for food and as a source of heating mainly. The banks, who ensure the fossil fuel resources are distributed optimally (for them, not in the light of efficiency, because then they would promote renewables a lot harder), do not want to lose this cashflow cow.
Lives are lost. Of people, animals, plants on land and in the oceans. Not only the use of fossil fuels brings a lot of life in the oceans and on land in reach of human destruction (call it consumption), the emitted CO2 raises the acidity and temperatures of the ocean, which means less can live in them, and the atmospheric temperatures, so more forrest fires, drought and heavy rains (as it takes more water to break out of cold clouds to a hot sea level surface). All this again because we can’t discipline the oil/gas/coal companies and leaching banks.
How much are those lives lost worth? The thought is triggered by an islamic recruiter of soldiers to fight in Aleppo, calling on them to ‘sell their soul to god’ in return for a place in heaven. Other places you get reminded of the value of a life is in medical insurance, which increasingly amounts to horse trading, where a life is about 70.000 Euro (no absolute amount) and if it gets more expensive it should be considered lost. If we look at premeditated murder in Holland, where we have no death penalty, we still look at 25 life years lost (because most get out after 25 years, or earlier).
Our lives depend on the lives of trillions of other creatures, literally, because the algae in the oceans make our oxygen, as do the trees in the Amazon. We can’t lose those lives and keep ourse, or we will be living on an Earth Mars style colony for at least a million years. Why? Because dead oceans become toxic and make our atmosphere unbreathable. So we have a stake in keeping our ecosystem alive, in the long and thus in the short term.
Interestingly you could say that people who don’t care about all of this because they know they won’t be burdened by it, also play with the concept of life and death, concluding that what happens after they die is of no concern to them. The biggest problem we face is thus the lack of immediate feedback from a system we (people who do have a sense of what happens after they die) need to protect. It is also a basic good to try to protect that which is today, so a parent that ignores calls for vegetarism, using EVs, solar panels etc. (where they could do something) is simply saying to their kids : “screw you”.
Climate irresponsible parents basically don’t care what happens to their children
Lets say all lives have a price, but price is counted in days of our lives lived in freedom. There’s a lot to say about freedom as wel by the way, because some people use their freedom for good, others use it to damage other lives (like trophy hunters or drug dealers). The ‘utility’ angle towards people however has been tried and resulted in the invention of the term ‘euthenasia’, it is also of decreasing relevance because of AI, robotics and renewables, which combined can provide us with most the things we need, without anybodies assistance.
Say we want to device a control scheme for humanity so we move back towards our 1800 ecological environment. We would like to see :
- No logging of pristine forrest
- No hunting or trade in endangered animals
- No degradation of land used by wild animals
- No warming of the oceans, no acidification
- Restoration of forrests, removal of dams
- Return to 1800 CO2 levels through multiple approaches
- Use of automated systems for planting/development
- Use of carbon storing soil techniques
- Use of renewable energy on land and oceans
Already there are many rules in place that will penalize people for doing damage, but usually it is against economic interests, so you can’t log without a permit, you can’t fish beyond your quotum. Laws are lobbied for and against things by people who do and who don’t give a damn about our futures. A truely active approach in securing life on this planet would involve much more direct intervention in what people try to do when they are either hungry or greedy.
Pricing of resources is not communicating the true cost. They do not regenerate spontaneously
It seems that the economic incentive has to be removed in most cases, and wierdly enough this is again tied in with fossil fuels. This is because if people need money they don’t have their own land to sustain themselves, and they depend on trade to get their food. This involves remote production of what they need, logistics, point of sale, and all these things are fossil fuel dependent (especially in poor countries). So in a way the damage done to nature is fossil fuel induced on every level.
As long as we are locally dependent on remote resources we need money to aquire those resources, and we need to extract that from others through trade
Besides incentivising or disincentivising the activities mentioned above, one should look at developing local support systems that have no fossil energy or banking component. So a solar basic income, communal or owned land for food production worked by people or machines. This removes the need for destructive economic activity.
Help to poor countries now comes as an indirect subsidy to EU or US or Chinese companies. It also means fossil fuel colonization, because once you sell a motorcycle in Africa, the gasoline sales will follow for quite a while. This in turn forces the owner to work for money, and this introduces the western economic system in every activity. The balance between owners and traders is pused to the side of the traders until there are no debt free owners anymore. This maximizes the control of the biggest traders, the banks.
The goal should be to push back from this ownerless situation to one where all things are owned by either local communities or individuals. Those that don’t benefit from or depend on a resource can’t own it. Those that do must own it. We earlier proposed the horizon rule, that no company could be owned by someone living beyond the horizon as seen from its office, or could serve customers beyond the horizon.