Some thoughts on Mark Lynas’s book ‘The God Species: How Humans Really Can Save the Planet’
This is an important book and one I’d recommend: thoughtful, provocative and full of challenging insights and observations. He is very good at defining what are the real challenges facing humanity and rightly focuses on the Planetary Boundaries, which he (and the Planetary Boundaries Group) divides into 9 categories: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Nitrogen, Land Use, Freshwater, Toxins, Aerosols, Ocean Acidification and the Ozone Layer.
He makes a strong critique of the green movement and where it has gone wrong over the years. While much of his analysis is excellent he sometimes comes up with policy recommendations that I see as not the best. Two big issues illustrate this; nuclear power and economic growth.
Mark Lynas and a number of other former anti nuclear Greens are now avid pro-nuclear advocates. I think that they are right to stress that closing down dirty coal must be our top priority energy policy due to Climate Change. They are also right that many environmentalist groups and individuals have over-hyped the dangers of nuclear power. As regular readers of this blog will be aware I think 100% of humanities energy requirements can best be met via renewables. Oliver Tickell responds to Lynas and argues the case as to why the UK should invest in renewables and not in more nuclear power in the latest edition of the Resurgence/Ecologist magazine.
In relation to the dominant paradigm of maximum economic growth at whatever cost Lyans stresses that the Green movement has too often gone with the opposing paradigm of zero growth initiated in 1972-3 by Herman Daley in his Toward a Steady-State Economy. The pro versus anti growth dialectic I find exhausted. The intelligent versus suicidal growth distinction (first proposed by Stephen Harding in 2008) I find more useful. Arguing against growth makes no sense to those many millions struggling to get by and to improve their lot in the world. Defining exactly what is the most intelligent way to invest money that will help humanity move back within the Planetary Boundaries while also providing a good quality of life for the 9 billion or so of us humans soon to be sharing this unique planet of ours: that is the question facing humanity and one which I’d love to debate with Mark Lynas, Oliver Tickell, George Monbiot, Stephen Harding and others.
Stephen Harding and Growth http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article2287-intelligent-growth.html