Last week I attended an inspiring conference Be the Change. George Monbiot kicked off. The problems we are facing, he said, are because capitalism is dependent on an ever increasing supply of goods and services… which are based on finite resources. In other words, freemarket economic growth is incompatible with an environmental and social agenda. The billion people who can afford to drive a car have greater purchasing power than the billion people who are struggling to feed themselves on the very same staple foods we can now run cars on - corn and wheat for example.
This is going to be a huge debate in the year to come, I think, as the majority of leaders still say we can essentially grow our way out of our planet’s crisis.Next up was Stewart Wallis of the New Economics Foundation (nef). I am in love with this organisation and everything that comes out of it. We’re running out of planet, he said. And the poorest are suffering the most. In 1900 the ratio of poor to rich was 36:1. Now it’s 75:1. He talked about the moral economy and how it is the right of every child to be brought up to consider the needs of others. Interesting, and true. His solution was devolution to local energy, food and community power while maintaining a global perspective.Change happens, he said, when people power start demanding it. It’s got to start with us. Maybe this wombat can teach us something.