Tikkun Winter 2019 (34.1) - Page 122

ECOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION We Need an Ecological Civilization Before It’s Too Late JEREMY LENT In the face of climate breakdown and ecological overshoot, alluring promises of “green growth” are no more than magical thinking. We need to restructure the fundamentals of our global cultural/economic system to cultivate an “eco- logical civilization”: one that prioritizes the health of living systems over short-term wealth production. W E ’ VE NOW BEEN WARNED BY THE world’s leading climate scientists that we have just twelve years to limit climate catastrophe. The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has put the world on notice that going from a 1.5° to 2.0° C rise in temperature above pre- industrial levels would have disastrous conse- quences across the board, with unprecedented flooding, drought, ocean devastation, and famine. Meanwhile, the world’s current policies have us on track for more than 3° increase by the end of this century, and climate scientists publish dire warnings that amplifying feed- backs could make things far worse than even these projections, and thus place at risk the very continuation of our civilization. We need, according to the IPCC, “rapid, far-reaching and 122 W W W .T I K K U N . O R G unprecedented changes in all aspects of soci- ety.” But what exactly does that mean? Last fall, at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco, luminaries such as Governor Jerry Brown, Michael Bloomberg, and Al Gore gave their version of what’s needed with an ambitious report entitled “Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of the 21st Century by the New Climate Economy.” It trumpets a New Growth Agenda: through enlightened strategic initiatives, they claim, it’s possible to transition to a low-carbon economy that could generate millions more jobs, raise trillions of dollars for green investment, and lead to high- er global GDP growth. Now, in early 2019, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives are leading the call for a Green New Deal: a bold plan for sweeping eco- nomic and political reforms, envisioning de- carbonizing the entire U.S. economy, a federal jobs guarantee, large-scale public investments, and a just transition away from fossil fuels. Within the current parameters of U.S. electoral politics, it’s a courageous agenda and worthy of wholehearted support. But even the Green New Deal, while over- whelmingly preferable to the Republican WINTER 2019