The more I read and hear, the more I think that our economy is not only troubled but utterly wrong-headed and out-dated. I’ve just read Zoe Williams’ excellent article on wind farms. (I’ve also just read some of the, as usual largely underintelligent, comments; one commentator seems to have his head screwed on all right, and that’s TBombadil.)
The trouble is that although we set huge premiums on certain natural extracts, such as oil or coal, we set no premiums on other extracts, chiefly water. Our global economy ensures that consumables for the richer half of world can continue to be manufactured cheaply by the poorer half of the world because they are poor. Our ‘free market’ economy is skewed against anything renewable, low-carbon and human-righty from the beginning.
The wind farms article highlighted the importance of localisation. If we are to carry on enjoying a modestly comfortable standard of living, and if we are to preserve – as far as we can – the world which we know and like, we must radically alter the economy. We must see the end of big business.
Let’s take power production, for example. The way we do it now is unsustainable. Coal is terrible; nuclear has the potential for being even worse. Gas is bad. But part of the negative impacts of all of these is scale. That goes for wind energy, too. The occasional wind turbine is a pretty thing. Huge windfarms, owned by large multinational companies – I’m not so sure.
It’s time that we tackled issues from the right end – with power, we must look at how to use less before we look at how to generate it.