Well, not really. But:

Have you noticed how scientists used to talk about sustainability but now we talk about resilience? (Sustainability is about ways to organise our lives so that we will not run out of resources or melt the ice caps. Resilience is our capacity to withstand shocks and changes.) Why the change?

It has become more and more obvious that digging up trillions of tons of grungey carbon-rich gunk and burning it all is going to change things a wee bit. So we all started looking for sustainable paths to take — and many have been found. The tricky thing is that there's no short-term profit in saving the planet. Now climate change is accelerating and our market-driven system has no mechanism to respond.

With less than 1 in 4 of the electorate voting for them, nevertheless the party of Business as Usual, austerity and banker bonuses now has a majority government in the UK. But even without the Tories we would still be in line for madness like TTIP, and its fast-track to more polution, fracking and genetically engineered foods (never mind further erosion of rights at work, less regulation for bankers, and the ability of big corporations to sue national governments in secret!).

So: on the one hand, without sustainability we are emulating lemmings, running full tilt towards the cliff of extinction. On the other hand, our social systems are proving themselves incapable of making any meaningful progress on sustainability. Quoting myself from six years ago:

I could at this point cite a hundred sources on the poor record of the current system in making changes, and the extremely poor prognosis for change in future, but let's base the argument on a voice from the establishment: Lord Stern, who was commissioned by the UK government to study The Economics of Climate Change (London, 2007). Stern advocates aiming for a likely 3 degree temperature rise as being "economically viable", and rejects all other options as non-viable. The report then includes all sorts of evidence that shows the 3 degree rise to be a huge gamble, with odds of 50:50 in some cases of much worse consequences.

In other words, as set out by Stern at the behest of the UK Treasury, our economic system cannot support odds better than the toss of a coin for avoiding catastrophic change. Can we conclude anything other than that the economic system itself is at fault?

And the situation has only worsenned since then. If it is not economically viable to save the planet, then the economic system is wrong.

There are two clear implications:

First, our economic system has to be dismantled and replaced from the ground up.

Second, sustainability isn't going to arrive if we don't do this, so we'd better start thinking hard about resilience!

Can we put these two together? Can we develop approaches to resilience that involve building a new economy outside of corporate capitalism and its rapacious need for profit and growth at any cost?


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