Spineless leaders and our common collapse

Let’s talk about the current economic and financial downturn, shall we ? With my educational background in international management, I am following the events quite closely. Besides, I am personally concerned by the economic situation…

If I have been referring to a triple crisis for some time now, Thomas L Friedman from the New York Times noted recently that he believes we are in a quadruple crisis with America, Europe, China and the Arab world at the core.

Now, The Economist, in its October 1st edition is talking about ” spineless leaders “. The article is just incredibly frightening and an absolute must read and must share.

It is indeed describing with an acute preciseness the mess we are in, whether we are in America, in Europe or elsewhere. Here is an extract :

First, for all the breathless headlines from the IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington, DC, Europe’s leaders are a long way from a deal on how to save the euro. The best that can be said is that they now have a plan to have a plan, probably by early November.

Second, even if a catastrophe in Europe is avoided, the prospects for the world economy are darkening, as the rich world’s fiscal austerity intensifies and slowing emerging economies provide less of a cushion for global growth.

Third, America’s politicians are, once again, threatening to wreck the recovery with irresponsible fiscal brinkmanship. Together, these developments point to a perilous period ahead.

With leaders (scratch that : representatives…) focusing on the short term – their elections and/or their own pockets… – we have little to no chance to solve our problems.

And what is true for the economy is even more true for our environmental and energies woes.

Indeed, we will one way or another, sooner or later, recover from the financial downturn. But if we fail to avert climate change AND fail to switch our energy consumption to renewables and sustainable low carbon solutions we will be in even deeper trouble. Think World War, think annihilation of life as we know it on the blue marvel…

The year I started to blog here I read my all-time favorite book on sustainability : Collapse, by Jared Diamond. By reading it, I learned that we are facing no less than twelve issues :

Deforestation and habitat destruction, soil problems (erosion, salinization, and soil fertility losses), water management problems, overhunting, overfishing, effects of introduced species on native species, human population growth, and increased per-capita impact of people, human-caused climate change, buildup of toxic chemicals in the environment, energy shortages and full human utilization of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity. »

To Diamond, even if we solved eleven of those issues,
the twelfth could still consist failure and thus collapse.

Indeed, a few of them taken separately killed the top civilizations of their times. The twelve could kill ours…

Solving the financial and economic situation and those twelve problems will require a complete paradigm shift towards sustainability AND leaders that are finally ready to not only acknowledge the current situation but also ones that are willing to solve it.

I noted earlier this week that Climate change – and our energy problems – are not a technological issue, they are political and behavioral ones.

If we embrace a truly massive global Green New Deal, we can recover and truly embrace a brave new world. Failing to do so will simply lead us all to poverty, war and catastrophe. As Churchill vehemently declared before World War II :

The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.

This couldn’t be even more true today…

2 thoughts on “Spineless leaders and our common collapse”

  1. We are screwed if we don’t change completely.

    If the people we read are thinking the same, it’s time for a paradigm shift.

    Thanks Olivier for bringing this to my, to our, attention

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