Changes necessary to Help Shift Our Imperiled Planet Onto a Sustainable Path

     In a previous article, “What is the Main Cause of Climate Change” (, I argued that capitalism’s need for continued growth and maximization of profits, with environmental considerations a secondary consideration, is leading the world toward a climate catastrophe. That we are on a very perilous path is indicated by the increasingly dire reports of climate experts and academies and by the increasing frequency and severity of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods.

     If economic growth continues at the two percent or more that economic experts believe is necessary to avert a recession or depression, the economy will at least double in 35  years quadruple in 70 years increase by a factor of eight in 105 years and so on. Clearly, this is unsustainable

     How can we avert what looks like a hopeless situation? An important initial step is to recognise how little time remains to make the necessary changes. As mentioned in my previous article, an October 2018  report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by 91 of the world’s leading climate experts from 40 countries argued that the world has only until 2030 to make ‘unprecedented changes’ to avert frequent extreme climate events. The Bulletin of Climate Scientists argued that the IPCC report, as frightening as it is, was not sufficiently alarming, because it failed to give sufficient attention to the potential for self-reinforcing positive feedback loops (vicious cycles) that could lead to an irreversible tipping point, when climate change spins out of control, with disastrous consequences.

     There have been science fiction movies that showed the world’s people uniting to overcome an invasion from an alien planet. Today the threats are not from outer space, but they are from human activities. But, just as if we were attacked by alien forces, it is essential that the world’s people unite to overcome the existential threat that climate change represents.

     Unfortunately, “denial is not just a river in Egypt,” and most of us are, in effect, “rearranging desk chairs on the Titanic as we head rapidly toward a giant iceberg.” How can we change this situation and create a sustainable, habitable world for future generations? Following are some suggestions.

1. Decisions must be made based on environmental concerns rather than the maximization of profit.

2. Shifting from the use of fossil fuels to renewable energy sources should be a major priority, using the tax system and other incentives.

3. Couples should be strongly encouraged to have no more than two children, again using the tax system and other incentives.

4. There must be a major shift toward vegan diets. Animal-based agriculture is a major contributor climate change and other environmental threats to humanity and uses far more land, water, energy, and other resources than vegan diets.To help make this shift, animal products should be very heavily taxed and the health and other benefits of such diets should be stressed.

5. Because it is urgent that only essential goods be manufactured, there would be a need to reduce working hours with no decrease in pay. To help subsidize this major change, money should be diverted from military expenditures and the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable companies should pay much higher taxes.

6. Conflicts all over the world must soon be settled. They contribute greatly to climate change, use up major financial and material resources, and divert attention from the need to address climate threats. If much of the huge amounts of money currently being used for the military was shifted to meet other societal needs  it would make a major difference.

      Some of these suggestions may seem utopian, but as the title of a book by Buckminster Fuller suggests, our choice may be between utopia or oblivion. Yes, the situation IS that serious.

     This article is meant to start a discussion about how we can shift our very imperiled world onto a sustainable path, so suggestions are very welcome. If you disagree with my arguments, please indicate how you think a climate catastrophe and other environmental disasters can be prevented. Business as usual is no longer an option, so averting the impending climate catastrophe must become a central focus for civilization today.


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