This blog was originally posted on the website Valuing Nature.
Here’s a Thought for the Day piece from Alastair McIntosh, reflecting on the “conundrum.. that we need more consumption to save the economy, but less to save the planet. Spending our way out of a recession”, he suggests, “is therefore only a stop-gap measure. It’s methadone for our planetary heroin addiction.”
The transcript follows, but you can listen to it here.
Thought for the Day – 22 Oct 2008 – BBC Radio Scotland
Alastair McIntosh, Quaker and Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology at Strathclyde University
This month has been a critical one in the history of our nation, one that historians will look back on as a cultural watershed.
Our faith in money has been shaken and earlier this week Gordon Brown promised a “central mission” of doing “whatever it takes” to spend a way out of the economic black hole.
At the same time and almost lost amongst the economic headlines, the UK Government took a courageous step towards tackling dangerous climate change. It now matches Scotland’s aspiration by having raised from 60 percent to 80 percent the target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.
But setting targets is the easy bit; achieving them is harder. And there’s the rub. Both the economic bubble now bursting and global warming have one driver in common: consumerism. Our conundrum is that we need more consumption to save the economy, but less to save the planet.
Spending our way out of a recession is therefore only a stop-gap measure. It’s methadone for our planetary heroin addiction.
We simply feed the habit if we think that today’s problems can be tackled at conventional political, technical or economic levels. If we’re redefining our “central mission”, we must press further.
Technical fixes are certainly part of the solution. But I’d put it to you that the deep work must be this: to learn to live more abundantly with less, to rekindle community, and to serve fundamental human need instead of worshiping at the altars of greed.
The crisis of these times is therefore spiritual. It calls for reconnecting our inner lives with the outer world – an expansion of consciousness. And that’s an opportunity that we neglect at our peril, for as I once heard an old Quaker woman say, “It is perilous, to neglect one’s spiritual life.”