WorldWideFuture Weblog

the future of education, politics, science and art

A future subverted

The real crime concerning the current economic crises, (real and media imagined), is that almost all talk of the looming environmental crises has disappeared from the political discourse. Instead of Silent Spring we have Silent Fall, (and maybe Silent Winter?) where the carbon heat death of the planet has taken the back seat to the gambling loses of the well-to-do. Greed is the new green, and we are all poorer for it.

Here in Canada this fall we had completed another $100 million election for naught. The opposition Liberals, who exhibited exemplary courage with a proposed “green shift” of taxes from income to polluting behaviours, also exhibited a lack of fortitude and leadership to keep it at the forefront against a Conservative government quite lacking in any environmental initiatives. The economic meltdown silenced the green shift as the Conservatives continually hammered the electorate with the dangers of the Liberal’s “carbon tax” during tough times. The silence of the Liberals sealed the fate of green shifting taxes forever. Despite a viable model in many countries, it will be political suicide for anyone to bring it up again.

The American presidential campaign has just wrapped up as well. I don’t recall hearing many pronouncements on the environment, though Obama has all appearance of becoming the first green president. (One can only hope). But…ten billion a month on the war in Iraq. One trillion dollars to bail out the mistakes of bankers and so called stock market analysts. You won’t be hearing much about conservation, biodiversity, ecology, sustainability, carbon sequestering, pollution control or alternate energy while jobs are being “outsourced” and “Joe six pack” is going to lose his job. The world wide future has receded into the background noise, and it may be long before we ever reconnect with the immediate problems of sustainable energy, food and water and air to breathe.

Funny thing is, the answer to these environmental issues may also be the direct and most possible solutions to the recessive economy.

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December 20, 2008 Posted by | economy, Environment, future, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Puffins poop, lipstick smears and we all lose, again

I started this blog because I was concerned about “future crashing into the present” as described by Alvin Toffler in Future Shock. I hoped that my blog would be a means to keep myself actively informed and perhaps help me bring insight into a bit of the future for myself and my fellow netizens. Well, now it is election season in North America, a.k.a. the theatre of the absurd. The Americans, of course, have been at it for what seems like eternity. We here in Canada are just beginning our spectacle (well, it seems we have been at it forever too, with an ineffective minority government). The election ritual makes me ponder the impact and implications of democracy on the world wide future. First, can we hope that we will have a leadership that is informed enough about true scientific and economic factors to govern a complex society; and secondly (and more universally), does democracy in its present form work in a global economic situation? Can we hope that politicos will forego the usual self-preservation pandering to portray the future as it really needs to be?

Lessons can be learned from the current political theatre both in Canada and the US, where in the case of Canada, puffins poop and in the US lipstick hides the old guy. This is blatant pandering to the masses if there ever was one.

We live in times where we, the people must make hard decisions to secure a viable future for the next generation and beyond. The cracking of ice sheets are sounds that should be heard around the world as the dire warning they are. But is the environment even creating a single bubble in the water cooler? At least in Canada it is an issue, though clouded. In the US, the supposedly “leader of the free world”, you can hear the tumbleweeds blow by the whole issue.

In Canada, our Liberal party, currently in opposition, has come up with a plan to tax the wasteful and encourage future thinking (called the Green Shift). On first read, it looked like yet another tax grab that will never disappear (wasn’t income tax a temporary measure to pay for WWI?) But at second read it makes sense for the future if enacted as described (increase taxes on wasteful high energy consumption, decrease income taxes and tax relief for sustainable energy use). However, the Conservatives, now dressed in cozy blue sweaters, heap scorn on the plan by portraying puffins pooping on the Liberal leader Stephan Dion. The Conservatives, who used to have the word “Progressive” in front of their party name and have rightly stripped it off, have not addressed a single issue regarding the environment. They even lead a futile attempt to keep the Green party from the upcoming televised debates. Boy, we aren’t moving ahead very far, aren’t we?

Elizabeth May, head of Canada's Green Party

Elizabeth May, head of Canada's Green Party. Can the green message ever be effective in today's political theatre of the absurd? (Photo by Michael Scott, taken at Orleans town hall meeting March 22 2007)

Meanwhile, back in the US, the party of George Bush has resorted to the blatant attempt to hide any real issues by hiring an unknown woman (Sarah Palin) to run as the VP (a gun toting, bible thumping one at that!) McCain had to go all the way to Alaska to find anyone who will detract from the disastrous last eight years of their ruling mandate. I haven’t heard the word “environment” even mentioned once by the media since who knows when…the story of the day is about lipstick on pigs.

The quandary for democracy is that the hard issues…paying more for services, scaling back to cover debt or increased costs, making sacrifices for protecting the environment, making long term plans for a more sustainable future, are in direct conflict with saying the right things to get elected. The result is bowing to the lowest common denominator, while lies, deceit, clouding the issues, pandering to special interests, spending sprees (real or imaginary) and empty promises. We, the people, lose. We need to take a cold hard look at democracy and how it really works in a much more complicated, globally connected world. One just has to watch with a cynical eye any of the commercial ads by politicians to understand that we will not be served by the current crop of politicians.

There is a problem with our electoral system that precludes a true democratic process, and yet it is easy to fix. At present, if one was disenchanted and disillusioned with the political process one can either spoil their ballot or not vote at all. But either method is meaningless…the statistics just get melded into the apathetic or mistaken pile. What we need, for the furtherance of democracy and to send a clear message of distrust and disgust for the empty rhetoric of party politics is a line on every ballot: NONE OF THE ABOVE. Simply, if one is not in favour of political party pandering, deceits, false promises, empty rhetoric or hidden agendas, then one can send a message to the system to rethink and come back again with a realistic and responsible government. NONE OF THE ABOVE. We need a way to say: a successful sustainable future requires clear honest messages and serious planning that goes beyond the politics of the past. The future has crashed into the present, and has highlighted the need for a systematic retooling of our society’s infrastructure. We need to start fixing the way society is run by looking at the way people are hired to make the decisions if we want a bright world wide future.

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Environment, future, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment