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‘The climate challenge is a mess. Those who have acquired wealth from the current capitalist system and who control the media are not interested in change’.

July 27, 2020

Brad Zarnett is a Canadian sustainability strategist, prolific writer and blogger. He explores how capitalism has failed to protect environmental & social capital and what we can do about it. You can read more of his writing here.

There’s no urgency to contemplate life without all of the different conveniences and cheap products that we’ve come to enjoy. This lifestyle is at the root of the problem.

PG: Why is there a serious lack of urgency when it comes to the Climate Crisis? To what extent is it owing to the bureaucracy at the multilateral agencies? Influence of climate deniers/ vested interests?

BZ: The climate challenge is a mess. Those who have acquired wealth from the current capitalist system and who control the media are not interested in change. They have a good thing going. The last thing they want is government intervention that takes away their control and profits. They’re the Kings of our time with both financial and political power. In the short term they can use their money to escape the pain of climate change while spreading the lie that the market can find a solution. Just like public health (The US is a perfect example), Climate Change isn’t a problem that can be solved individually in the marketplace. It’s a global societal problem that can only be solved with government leadership.

Just like public health… Climate Change isn’t a problem that can be solved individually in the marketplace.

PG: What would be your prescription to overcoming any resistance/ objections?

BZ: This is a complex issue. People who reject the science don’t want to accept that they’re part of the problem. To do so would mean that they would have to give up their jobs in the oil and gas industry, banking, consumer goods or any large corporation for that matter. You can’t expect people to walk away from their ability to earn a living – people need to eat. Those people need to be taken care of if we want to find solutions. They will need to be paid not to work while they are retrained. (I explore this in depth in this article)

You can’t expect people to walk away from their ability to earn a living – people need to eat. Those people need to be taken care of if we want to find solutions.

PG: Despite the current pandemic, is there something amiss that prevents much of the world to see the writing on the wall?

BZ: Climate change is a slow moving crisis. It doesn’t feel urgent. It doesn’t engage our central nervous system in the same way as a near real time crisis…like COVID-19. As a species we’re not scared — there’s no collective release of adrenaline to trigger a change in our climate-destroying behaviours. There’s no urgency to contemplate life without all of the different conveniences and cheap products that we’ve come to enjoy. This lifestyle is at the root of the problem.

Climate change is a slow moving crisis. It doesn’t feel urgent. It doesn’t engage our central nervous system in the same way as a near real time crisis…like COVID-19.

PG: How can the Catholic Church, which has been at the forefront under the Pope’s leadership, make the faithful act decisively?

BZ: He can’t. Religion for most part is separate from people’s economic lives. Whether we like it or not, we are all living in the web of the capitalist system, it controls every aspect of our lives. Most people are just trying to survive with a roof over their head and some food on their table.

Whether we like it or not, we are all living in the web of the capitalist system, it controls every aspect of our lives.

PG: Why do countries like Canada declare Climate Emergency on one hand and allow crude extraction from its tar sands?

BZ: Jobs and votes are the key behind every government’s decisions.

PG: Despite all the squabbling and squandering, are the goals set in the Paris Agreement still reachable?

BZ: No chance whatsoever. It’s done. We need to take the best parts of it and move on. When a company or government talks about 2050 net zero targets, you can be sure that they are still operating in a mindset of the broken system. We don’t need “net zero” we need “zero carbon” targets. One relies on carbon sinks that are being degraded to absorb more carbon and one requires a total reduction in carbon.

When a company or government talks about 2050 net zero targets, you can be sure that they are still operating in a mindset of the broken system. We don’t need “net zero” we need “zero carbon” targets.

PG: What is the price that the Planet Earth will extract if Father Greed keeps pushing it further and farther?

BZ: Complete chaos of our life supporting ecosystems. 

Out of control jet stream

Out of control wildfires

Biblical flooding and drought

Lack of food and water

Death of democracy

PG: Any thoughts on what must the developing countries do given that there are not many ideal role models today?

BZ: Become self sufficient. No one will come to save them. For those countries that will become uninhabitable in the next 30-50 years…it will be brutal for them.

For those countries that will become uninhabitable in the next 30-50 years…it will be brutal for them.

PG: The SDGs have been recently called a farce and a smokescreen for further environmental destruction throughout the decade? Any suggested metrics for measuring real progress?

BZ: Wellbeing – the more you create the wealthier you become…not just financial wealth but social wealth as well. 

PG: Many thanks Brad for your very candid insights!

From → Articles

One Comment
  1. Interesting and insightful interview…Hoever, accepting a problem doesn’t have to mean giving jobs in the “oil and gas industry, banking, consumer goods or any large corporation for that matter…”. Responsible capitalism can be shaped from the inside. Perhaps that’s the only way….

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