The Lancet is at it again. Having previously strived mightily to transform global warming into a planetary health emergency, it has now published a screed attacking “commercialism” for killing the planet.
Besides repeating the usual bromides about the need to drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels and transform food production into “regenerative agriculture” — which probably means no more meat — the piece uses the usual politically progressive anti-clarity lexicon that turns the prose of leftist advocacy into impenetrable gobbledygook.
Taking this bold mitigation action requires disrupting the consumptogenic system — the system of institutions, actors, multisectoral policies, commercial activities, and norms that encourages and rewards the exploitation of natural resources, excess production, and hyperconsumerism of fossil fuel-reliant goods and services, and which results in environmental degradation, climate change, and health inequities.
There is already a word for rewarding the exploitation of natural resources: prosperity.
It’s all the capitalists’ fault:
Commercial actors use a range of practices (including political, financial, corporate social responsibility, and marketing practices, and influencing scientific research) to maximise the production, distribution, and purchase of fossil fuel-reliant products and services, either directly or by enabling the creation of supportive political and policy settings.
Political lobbying is used to influence government policies in favour of business interests. Termed the pollution paradox, the more polluting a company is, the more money it spends on politics to ensure it is not regulated out of existence. For example, billions of US dollars were put into lobbying by the fossil fuel and chemical industries and power generators in the USA, resulting in stalled or watered down climate change and energy action. Global fossil fuel investment actually grew by 10% in 2022.
It’s time for governments to stomp on these Earth-rapers:
If mitigation is the biggest preventive health opportunity of the 21st century, grabbing that opportunity requires tackling the commercial drivers of the global consumptogenic system. Governments, especially in high-income countries, must use their regulatory power to curb excess commercial activities and stop further coal, oil, and gas projects. Embracing regenerative business models and respecting regulations to reduce harmful practices is essential among commercial actors. Civil society must be noisy, demanding action and holding commercial actors and governments to account.
Let’s Get Real
(Relatively) free-market economies in which commercial interests clearly have influence — like the U.S. — are not dramatically increasing emissions. To the contrary, according to the Institute for Energy Research, the U.S. recorded the world’s greatest reduction in emissions — 24 percent — between 2005 and 2020. Second-best reducer was the enthusiastically commercial country of Japan, at 21 percent, followed by other free-market economies such as the U.K., Germany, Italy, and Spain. In fact, India — which has a mix of free enterprise and government monopolistic control — was the only market economy that dramatically increased its emissions.
In contrast, emissions soared in non-free economies — particularly Communist China — which saw its greenhouse-gas releases increase by a whopping 62 percent, outpacing every other country on earth. Perhaps it is because of all the coal electricity-generation plants the CCP constructed. Less free economies such as Iran, Turkey, and Vietnam also increased their emissions.
In fact, according to a recent story in the Washington Post — no friend of Big Fossil Fuels — reported that if China and India were taken out of the equation, the world would have reduced its total emissions lasts year. So much for the evil “commercial drivers of the global consumptogenic system” that are destroying climate equity, or whatever.
Friel needs to extract her rational capacities from intractable woke ideology. And The Lancet needs to go back to being a medical journal rather than a propaganda outlet for progressive politics.
Cross-posted at National Review.