Populism is not compatible with limits of the Earth
Maanantai 16.12.2019 klo 15:30 - Mikko Nikinmaa
The Madrid Climate Summit ended with no results, although it is more and more clear that urgent action is needed. For this we can thank backward-looking politicians, backward-looking voters, and out-of-date economic conventions. The problem is that populism, which is strong throughout the world, only looks backwards, remembering the good old days.
Remember the times that there was the British Empire, wildernesses in the west, coal and oil brought you richness, cars used close to 20 l petrol/100 km, but you were free to roam with them and nobody told you that the use of petrol was bad. There were no limits. Indeed, there were no limits. World population was about 2 billion in 1950’s when the backward-looking decision-makers were children. The seas were not polluted. All the ideas about the future of the world were based on limitless growth.
Environmental scientists started saying already in the end of 1960’s, i.e. 50 years ago that the world has limits. It has become more and more obvious that the limits of the planet have been reached, and the growth of consumption and population, and pollution can only lead to collapse. This is the breeding ground for nationalistic populism. Instead of accepting that the world has limits, and because of that, we need to think of the world as one unit, the populistic movements think that by isolation all the problems disappear. After all, we are doing everything right, it is the other people who look different or speak different language, who are root of all evil. With the nationalistic isolation doctrine, it must be remembered that growth in the nation states was possible as long as the limits of the world were not reached. Now any growth is taken from the possibilities of future generations. What is funny is that in the Madrid Climate Summit, and earlier in Trump-like actions, it has been said that climate and environmental actions hurt the economy. That would be true, if there was still possibilities for expansion, if the limits of the world were not reached. However, now that environmental collapse is within sight, it should be remembered that a functioning economy needs a healthy or at least livable environment. The Bolsonaros and Trumps and their supporters forget that it doesn’t really help much, if one has much wealth, but the world around collapses. It is surprising that with the air quality in India and forest fires in Australia, the leaders of these countries strongly oppose actually doing something against climate change.