For decades the business forces dismissed or downplayed linkages between development and environmental issues, arguing that technology and enlightenment that will follow from everyone having a high per capita income will ensure that we will be able to take care of any environmental issue that comes about.
Now it is clear to the capitalists own number crunchers that there is indeed a crisis and the economic system they have created is self perpetuating and a prisoner of its rules and left on its own will work towards Singapore standard of per capita income for everyone. Even as they go about selling container loads of air-conditioners and cars and drive one set of numbers they can also hear the ticking in the background of a bomb mean to go off sooner than later.
We have seen enlightenment come about with high per capita income. It can be seen in the form of a clutter of teen and youth climate activists born to parents who pursued high carbon careers and lifestyles. With material needs more than taken care of the ‘enlightenment’ has come towards the fag end and in many a case seems a pursuit to become world famous and be seen as a hero of the planet. The best they could have done is to denounce their parents wealth first but that would be asking for too much. Enlightenment does not come easy to the species and hence cannot be relied upon to save the planet. You need more drastic steps.
The billionaires after decades of sales have now come to realise that they really do not need so many sales to remain billionaires. That if across board consumption and sales reduced uniformly they would still be billionaires. They would like to sell air-conditioners and cars and software and cement and steel to every single person around but that need not be seven billion people going to eight and nine.
The billionaires have not much interest in the welfare of the people much as they may create that impression. Their primary interest is their bank balance and position in society. And they are realising that it is not linked to a specific population number. They don’t take pleasure in wiping out rain forests in Indonesia to mine for coal to ensure that millions of middle class families in India or elsewhere air-condition their silly existence. And there will be no end to this cycle.
If the world’s population would drastically come down to 4 billion in two decades it would shake their capacities and plans a bit but working in tandem with governments they would be able to take care of everything and adjust to the new equilibrium and still be billionaires. Maybe a few 100 billionaires may get wiped out but that’s ok for the billionaires shaping the new equilibrium – there is no love lost on Wall Street. Taking the argument further they would still be billionaires if the global population came down to half a billion i.e 50 crore people or even one tenth – 10 crores. 10 crores is roughly the population of Maharashtra State in India. Imagine the whole world with only that many people. No 450 ppm, no plastic and shit in the oceans, no decimated rainforests and polar caps.
Technology advancements have anyways made labour rapidly redundant. There has never been a better time to have your cake and eat it to. Except that ticking in the background of the time bomb really is spoiling the party. With a global population of 100 million people it really will be possible for everyone but at least certainly for the billionaires to thoroughly enjoy their lives with maximum carbon entitlement. They could comfortably hop around in personal jets for business trips or vacations every month to exotic locations. Do whatever they want with none of the attendant commentary at shaming them and making them feel guilty. None of that nagging realisation that you are directly connected to all that plastic in the ocean, or the rapid decline of the rainforests. But now to get to the plan.
Maybe the best enlightenment does indeed come about at the top of the cash pile. Or at the absolute bottom of it. Everything in the middle is a charade.