In 1974 and again in 1984-85 the National Union of Mineworkers was in conflict with Conservative governments. People were seen as supporting the striking miners or the government. You were either for the unions or for the government. Yet really both these were very narrow vested interest groups. Who was arguing the case for clean air, enhanced biodiversity or social justice for all? Even back then Climate Change was a concern for some of us, now it is pretty well universally agreed as an absolute priority by all but the most scientifically ill-informed. Decarbonising the global economy will mean the ending of many millions of people’s jobs. Of course it will also mean the creation of many millions of other jobs. What we need is a system that allows people not to feel threatened personally and economically by the contraction of their industries.
Closing the global advertising industry would certainly help reduce the demand that is driving hyped-up hyper-consumption. That too, like shutting coal-mines, might be part of a more sustainable future. Taxes on carbon and on advertising are policies I’d like to see implemented globally and as soon as possible. However advertising executives, like coal miners, would fight to protect their jobs. We need a system that allows people to feel economically secure while their sphere of employment contracts. We need a system that allows people to identify less with their current job title and more with their own personal potential. We need a system where people see their utter dependence on a well functioning biosphere, and where this takes precedence over their own short term economic fears.
Mining always was a dirty dangerous job. Why would anyone want to do it? Many other jobs are pretty soul destroying. Currently money is the main motivating force that keeps people chained to jobs they don’t really love doing, and to jobs that do not help the longer term wellbeing of humnaity. We need a system which values the time and creativity of all people, irrespective of whether they are coal miners, advertising executives, economic migrants or climate scientists. Perhaps now is the time for a universal global basic income so that everyone can live without economic insecurity? Or perhaps better still a global guarantee of work for all: there is an awful lot that needs to be done to provide prosperity for all 7.3 billion of us humans, and to do it in a way that does not jeopardise our longer term survival as a species.