Our planet can’t take many more

History tells us that when environments deteriorate, societies turn to supposed strongmen and religious zealots rather than smart, pragmatic leaders. That is happening now. In addition to the dictatorships of China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, a growing number of young democracies have relapsed into authoritarianism: the Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte, Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Egypt under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and next, it would seem, Brazil under Bolsonaro. And underlying this is environmental stress, which has been building for over two centuries.

Starting in Britain, the carbon-capitalist industrial model has long been extracting minerals and organic resources, and discharging the waste into the air, sea and land. As more nations developed, they exported their environmental stress to the next country rising up the economic ladder.

Now that this paradigm is being replicated by the world’s most populous country, China, there are very few places left to absorb the impact. Competition for what is left is growing. So is violence and extremism. Centre-ground politicians who once talked chummily about “win-win solutions” have been pushed to the sidelines. No one believes this any more. Voters may not see this in environmental terms, but consciously or subconsciously they know something is broken, that tinkering is no longer enough. Link

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