"Green jobs. Green products. The sustainable economy. No. There’s no such thing. The whole of the global economy is unsustainable. The economy runs on the destruction of the natural world. The Earth is treated as nothing but fuel for economic growth. They call it natural resources. And a few people choosing to remove themselves from this economy makes no difference. For as long as this economy exists, there will be no sustainability.
For as long as any of these structures exist: electricity, mains water, global economy, industrial agriculture – there can be no sustainability. To achieve true sustainability, these structures need to be dismantled.
What’s more important to you – to sustain a comfortable lifestyle for a little longer, or the continuation of life on Earth, for the natural communities who remain, and for future generations?
I know what I want. I want to live in a world that is becoming ever more alive. A world regenerating from the destruction, where every year there are more fish, birds, trees and diversity than the year before. A world where I can breathe the air, drink from the rivers and eat from the land. A world where humans live in community with all of life.
Industrial technology is not sustainable. The global economy is not sustainable. Valuing the Earth only as a resource for humans to exploit is not sustainable. Civilization is not sustainable. If civilization collapsed today, it would still be 400 years before human existence on the planet becomes truly sustainable. So if it’s genuine sustainability you want, then dismantle civilization today, and keep working at regenerating the Earth for 400 years. This is about how long it’s taken to create the destructive structures we live within today, so of course it will take at least that long to replace these structures with alternatives that benefit all of life on Earth, not just the wealthy minority. It won’t happen instantly, but that’s no reason not to start."
Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained(3). But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.
It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and the pathologies (total war, the unprecedented concentration of global wealth, planetary destruction) of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. The meta-trend, the mother narrative, is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots. Now, as the most accessible reserves have been exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our impossible proposition.