Some have decried the Green New Deal because it touches on numerous areas outside of climate change, including universal health care, a universal basic income, job guarantees and worker rights. The assumption has been that climate change exists in some kind of a vacuum.
Mike Berners-Lee, an English researcher, writer on greenhouse gases, professor at Lancaster University, and our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, argues that the critics have it all wrong — because everything is connected.
We cannot even begin to address climate change without also looking at food, biodiversity, income inequality, population, plastics, and more.
Berners-Lee says that the challenges facing humanity today are inescapably global and interconnected. It no longer works, he tells Jeff Schechtman, to tackle environmental issues one at a time or to keep science, economics, sociology, politics, and psychology separate from one another. All parts of our complex global system must be addressed simultaneously if we are to have any positive impact.
Despite all our individual and collective efforts with alternative energy and conservation, we have not made even the slightest improvement in the global “carbon curve,” Berners-Lee says. Moreover, in a kind of environmental Catch-22, it turns out that greater energy efficiency can sometimes increase carbon output.
Nevertheless, Berners-Lee is slightly optimistic that we can solve some of these problems and improve our global quality of life.
After all, he reminds us, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos notwithstanding, it’s very unlikely that we’re going to find another planet to move to anytime soon. As Berners-Lee says, “there is no planet B.”