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Happy New Year? January 2, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Thinking about 2017 this article by George Monbiot in November comes to mind. In it he lists thirteen ‘impossible crises’ that humanity faces. Whether Brexit is a crisis for all humanity or just the portion of same on this island, the one to the east and in the EU or no crisis at all is open to discussion. But he’s not far wrong that it is a major, potentially global problem. I would argue that above and beyond Trump and Brexit the two key ones are as follows:

7. Job-eating automation
Automation will destroy jobs on an unprecedented scale, and because the penetration of information technology into every part of the economy is not a passing phase but an escalating trend, it is hard to see how this employment will be replaced. No government or major political party anywhere shows any sign of comprehending the scale of this issue.

And:

10. The Paris climate agreement trashed
National climate change programmes bear no connection to the commitments governments made at Paris. Even if these programmes are fully implemented (they won’t be), they set us on a climate-change trajectory way beyond that envisaged by the agreement. And this is before we know what Trump will do.

Though this one was new to me and is deeply worrying too…

12. … with just 60 harvests left
According to the UN food and agriculture organisation, at current rates of soil loss we have 60 years of harvests left.

Monbiot’s analysis concludes:

One of the peculiarities of this complex, multiheaded crisis is that there appears to be no “other side” on to which we might emerge. It is hard to imagine a realistic scenario in which governments lose the capacity for total surveillance and drone strikes; in which billionaires forget how to manipulate public opinion; in which a broken EU reconvenes; in which climate breakdown unhappens, species return from extinction and the soil comes back to the land. These are not momentary crises, but appear to presage permanent collapse.

Cheerful – eh?

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Comments»

1. benmadigan - January 2, 2017

with regards to job-eating automation – a universal basic income might be the solution. Otherwise who is going to purchase what automation produces?

https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/may-day-2016-and-unconditional-basic-income/

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GW - January 3, 2017

Depends on what kind of basic income, Ben. The right are pushing it as an alternative to social care which is potentially publicly owned and controlled. This would mean an underclass completely under the control of oligarchic ‘service provision’.

But a basic income to cover the things that people need to buy, while expanding democratically controlled and owned social provision is not a bad idea.

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2. CL - January 2, 2017

‘While we hear endless tales of driverless cars and robots displacing human workers, in the real world we are seeing the exact opposite….
Many people discussing the technologies of the future fail to recognize that these are in fact productivity enhancing innovations, just like the ones that we have seen in the past…
In spite of the great developments in technology in many areas, thus far they have not had a major impact on the workplace.’-Dean Baker.
http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/lack-of-demand-is-the-economy-s-problem-not-automation

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3. GW - January 3, 2017

Monbiot is too much reality this early in the year for me.

Yes, soil loss is a thing. A massive thing. In combination with climate change and food provision controlled by a few mega-companies it will under capitalism bring wide-spread famine.

On the positive side, soils can be remade over decades.

And we have in a back pockets the possibility of practically universal veganism, which would me that we could get by with less agricultural land. This again won’t happen under capitalism – a more likely future is that the very rich will be eating Kobe beef, while billions are underfed.

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