Money reform and climate change
- Locked-in to Present Patterns.
- Unifying Cause.
- Debt-Money Requiring 'Growth'.
- Logical Absurdity.
- Debt-Free Money Saves the Planet!
- Download this page as a leaflet.
Perhaps the greatest intractable problem of our age is the matter of global warming. There are few now who question the fact that human activity is causing the world's overall temperatures to rise.
Although this rise may be only be a matter of a few degrees within a lifetime, it is not a matter for complacency. Warmer temperatures will not just mean that the Scots will be able to grow grapes and the English will be able to grow olives. Indeed, one consequence of climate change could be that the Gulf Stream changes direction and the British Isles lose their temperate climate.
To reduce sea-level rise, desertification, increasing hurricanes, habitat loss for some species, and a myriad of subtle changes which will impact upon each other to cause unimaginable changes, the global consensus is that human activity itself needs to change to reduce our impact upon the climate.
As individuals and as societies, we are largely locked-in to our present lifestyle patterns. People need to earn an income in order to pay their way in the world. In order to earn money, they need a job, and to undertake their job, often one of a specialised nature, they need transport, frequently their own car, to get them to work.
Asking people to give up their car would be like suggesting that maybe they should just give up living (in order to help the planet). Frankly such an approach is a non-starter, yet motor vehicles are one of the biggest creators of green-house gases.
Governments around the world agree that something must be done to reduce green-house emissions, but all are reluctant or unable to take steps to seriously reduce them as there is such a large gap between the individual cause and the ultimate consequence.
Although climate change is the consequence of billions of individual decisions taken every day by people around the world, in a sense there really is only one underlying cause. People want to better themselves.
This is a natural human motivation and it is foolish to suggest any malevolent intent within it. People who do physically demanding tasks want machinery to relieve them of their labour. People would rather ride than walk for long journeys. People want to do well in their careers, travelling to head-office each day rather than working at their local branch-office. People want their children to go to a good school, driving them the miles there and back each day if necessary. People want to be seen as successful amongst their peers, with all the trappings that success is assumed to bring.
Successful politicians necessarily have to tap in to this aspiration for betterment and they tend to do so with the word 'growth'.
'Growth' is the magic word in democratic politics. To be successful in government, a politician must be able to produce figures that have shown how the economy, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), has grown under his stewardship.
Growth brings with it increased employment. It brings higher incomes to those in work. It assumes more goods and services, and increased government revenues for schools, hospitals and pensions.
Yet GDP figures do not only count all the good things that benefit us - food, clothing, housing, fuel, cars, entertainment, education, etc. It also counts all the things that the economy requires to overcome the problems that it creates for itself.
The cost of pollution, of ill-health caused by pollution, of the advertising that encouraged us to pollute in the first place and the bureaucracy that is installed to try and control that pollution all increase our nation's GDP. They therefore contribute to the 'growth' of our of nation's GDP, but they do not add to our betterment.
For example, the 'snack food industry' (crisps, etc.) is reckoned to contribute some £2 billion to the British economy every year, through all its processing, packaging, advertising, transport and distribution costs. Yet snack foods, eaten as they are in prodigious quantities by some, are unhealthy and create a burden on the NHS. The annual cost caused by them has been estimated as being some £2 billion.
Of course, the financial contribution of creating this health problem and the cost of alleviating it do not cancel each other out in the calculation of GDP. They are added together, to suggest that because we produce vast quantities of unhealthy food for our children and then have to spend more money in treating their health problems we are, as nation, £4 billion better off than if we did not.
It can be seen therefore that a contraction in our economy, either at a national or global level, would not necessarily result in people being materially less well off. It would simply indicate that we had managed to curtail activities which are detrimental to our well-being yet which are currently added to our GDP figures.
Yet the contraction of economic activity, even of that which is inimical to our well-being, is impossible in an economy that depends upon debt-based money for its money supply. Such money requires continuing growth in the money supply, and hence a growing GDP.
More money is required to repay an interest-bearing debt than the initial debt was worth, so if all our money is in the form of an interest-bearing debt, we have a debt that can never be repaid. The economy must 'grow' in conventional terms, not so much to increase our well-being, but simply in order to prevent a recession. Yet the more the economy 'grows' in conventional terms, the more money is borrowed into existence and the deeper the problem becomes.
Unlike oil or gas or fresh water or agricultural land or clean air or a temperate climate or a protective ozone layer, money is not a natural phenomenon. It is an entirely human creation. It is not limited in amount. It can, quite literally, be created out of thin air (whether that air is clean or heavily polluted!).
Yet in our everyday patterns of behaviour, we waste our natural finite resources; we pollute and squander them; we discard and consume them in a myriad of different ways, all in order to better ourselves, and frequently in order to save money, as if money were a finite commodity. Such behaviour is the height of absurdity, yet is quite logical for individuals locked-in to a system of debt-based money.
Although debt-free money could be used in some direct ways to reduce our impact upon the climate and upon the environment in general, such as building publicly-funded electric tramways to relieve our roads, its greatest impact will be in a number of rather subtle ways. It will remove the pressure to borrow, spend and work.
It will reduce the overall pressure that presently exists upon the economy to meet interest payments, because the economy as a whole will have no interest to pay. Taxes will be lower, reducing the pressure on businesses and householdes. Even so, more public money will be available to fund energy conservation measures. Finance providers will not be able to be so profligate with their lending, so everyone will be under less pressure to consume things that they do not need and cannot afford.
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