I finished a book about the environmental history of the 2oth century this morning and there is plenty of food for thought.
It’s seems to me that we will have reap what we have sown in big ways. Perhaps Sandy that is bearing down on the east coast of the US will be the new norm? More unpredictable weather events, rising populations, more degraded soils, less clean water.
In the 20th century mankind seemed to just charge and blunder on with no pause for thought about what might happen further down the road. There were profits to be made or nations to be built and protected in the name of economic growth.
The fuel that drove it was coal and oil. Humans couldn’t have mined and flown, transported without their fossil fuel driven machines.
Sometimes Christians have a reputation of not caring much for the environment, but the author makes the point that:-
‘If Judeo-Christian monotheism took nature out of religion, Anglo-American economists (after about 1880) took nature out of economics.
The growth fetish, while on balance quite useful in a world with empty land, shoals of undisturbed fish, vast forests, and a robust ozone shield, helped to create a more crowded and stressed one. Despite the disappearance of ecological buffers and mounting real costs, ideological lock-in reigned in both capitalist and communist circles…The true heretics, economists who challenged the fundamental goal of growth and sought to recognize value in ecosystem services, remained outside the pale to the end of the century…The overarching priority of economic growth was easily the most important idea of the twentieth century’
John McNeill, Something New Under the Sun
He speaks about the economic growth being by far the most important idea in the 20th century, the religion that almost every country (whether communist or capitalist) bowed down to.
It still happens. There was a smile of smugness on George Osbourne’s face that things are going in the right direction now that the UK is out of recession and the economy is growing again. But at what cost? The government who I think promised to be the most green government ever don’t seem to be showing much sign of that.