The Failure of Global Elites

| June 15, 2022 | Leave a Comment

Item Link: Access the Resource

Date of Publication: April 17

Year of Publication: 2022

Publication City: Corvallis, OR

Publisher: Post Carbon Institute -

Author(s): Richard Heinberg

In the 1970s, global political and corporate elites had all the information they needed to put the world on a path toward long-term stability.

Systems science was sufficiently advanced that a team of its practitioners organized a scenario study to see how trends in industrial production, population, food, pollution, and resource usage might interact over the next few decades; the study showed that continued growth in population and industrial production would prove unsustainable. Political scientists were beginning to sort demographic, economic, and historical social data for clues to understanding why societies sometimes descend into internal violence; data seemed to show that there was a rough correlation between rising economic inequality and declining social stability. Also, the science of ecology was revealing that forest, ocean, desert, freshwater, and soil ecosystems are inherently complex and resilient, but that they are subject to catastrophic tipping points when subjected to high enough levels of pollution or loss of habitable space. It was clear what should be done in order to put society on a sound footing: discourage population growth, cap the scale of industrial production, reduce economic inequality, clean up past pollution, reduce current and future pollution, and leave plenty of space for nature to regenerate.

Elites didn’t do those things.

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