By-election special: why vote Green?

All I ask is about fifteen minutes of your time. I want to tell you why I think that you should elect Green Party councillors at the two local council by-elections in Bridport this week – or at any other time in any other place if you are reading this after the event and / or do not live in this wonderful and unique town.

Most of us fully accept that caring for our environment is important. We accept the evidence that man-made climate change is not only happening but is a potential threat to the flourishing of human life, and we accept that world plastic pollution is a disaster that has crept up upon when we were not looking. All the main political parties in the UK accept this. All the main political parties have environmental policies that they will talk about as evidence of their commitment to doing something about the dawning environmental threats to our well-being.

But, and this is a very big but, none of the other parties come even close to accepting the essential link between their economic policies and their environmental policies. And until they do, their environmental policies, however well intentioned, are doomed to failure. Our economy forms a complex and dynamic subset of human relations that sit within the wider and even more complex system of human relations we call human society. And both sit within an even more complex system of relations that we call our environment. None of these systems can be understood in isolation – with the possible exception of our natural environment which would still exist even if humanity became extinct (though, of course, there would be no one around to understand it).

Our economic activity has always had, and will continue to have, an effect on the environment in which it is embedded. It’s just up until the onset of the industrial revolution human numbers were relatively small and our technology mostly harmless to our environment. In the year 1500 the world population was approx. 500 million. Today it is approx. 7.5 billion, and is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050. And since the year 1500 we have discovered coal, oil, nuclear energy, and have invented plastic.

All the main political parties, with the exception of the Green Party, have economic growth as not only the goal of their economic policy, but as the measure of their success as a government. And because their economic policies are not essentially linked to their environmental policies, because they are not seen as two sides of the same coin, they pursue both in relative isolation. They will approve environmental action if they think it necessary providing it does not threaten economic growth. This is wrong. This is very wrong.

The goal of our economic policy should be to meet the needs of all our citizens, whilst keeping within the safe limits of a number of crucial environmental measures – measures that are not negotiable. This should be our goal, not constant economic growth. If the economy grows, then it grows. If it shrinks, it shrinks. That should not be our concern. All we should be concerned about is meeting our needs whilst not making our planet incapable of supporting human life. Only the Green Party will take this approach. All the others will focus on economic growth, an approach that will work against their environmental good will.

Thank you for your time.

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