“Okological vandals”: economist condemns lifestyle of many burgers

Ahead of the world climate conference, economist niko paech attests to the fact that many burghers are exchanging themselves for the fatal environmentally damaging consequences of their lifestyle.

In the midst of all the cries about the climate crisis, it is the demand for decadent luxury that is growing most strongly, and which is causing an immense emission of greenhouse gases that are harmful to the climate, the economist from the university of siegen told the german press agency.

"That’s cruises, that’s suvs, that’s air traffic, digital electronics and the demand for even more living space."This is pure comfort, which cannot be justified as satisfaction of essential basic needs. "This reveals the flaw in the life of a society whose majority thinks it is climate-competent, but lives like ecological vandals."

The UN climate conference, which begins monday in madrid, will discuss how to limit global warming to a tolerable level without causing ecosystems to collapse in a few decades.

Paech said that a radical change of course is needed to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly. For decades, attempts have been made to decouple economic growth from environmental damage of all kinds. "And we have achieved nothing, but nothing at all."It would be one of the most fatal self-exchanges to think that we could maintain our level of prosperity and at the same time do what is necessary to become survivable in the face of impending climate catastrophe and mass species extinction.

It is therefore essential not only to have an economy without growth, but also to have a reconstruction program. But this is not a march into asceticism or the middle ages, but can be understood as a liberation from abundance, said the scientist. "The most urgent thing is to reduce mobility, which corresponds to decadent luxury and consumes masses of oil in the process. There is no human right to book a cruise. There is no human right to take a vacation by airplane."There are an infinite number of ways to spend a vacation here in europe without using kerosene.

Paech went on to say that what is needed is a "de-rumping of our lifestyles" and the creation of an economy in which repair and maintenance once again become an important factor. Products had to be used for a longer time. This would also curb the enormous increase in good traffic as a result of online trade, he said. Industrial agriculture also needs to be restructured according to paech’s ideas. "Smaller, solidarity-based ecofarms could produce for their region. This would eliminate a gigantic amount of packaging, transportation, and cold chains – and at the same time benefit biodiversity, groundwater, and soil quality."To this end, gardens and farm plots should also be activated in order to enable self-sufficiency on a small scale.

A moratorium on construction is also necessary, according to the climate economist’s ideas. "Every additional square meter of living space we create is an ecological catastrophe."

Extremely large amounts of electricity are also consumed by the internet in the global mabstab, he told dpa. "A radical but serious suggestion would be to switch off the internet every other day – this can be started now on a voluntary basis."

In his opinion, effective political regulation should not be relied on at the moment. "A democratically elected government can do many things, but one thing it cannot do is ignore the lifestyles of a majority of the population and reduce prosperity," the economist said.

However, the acceptance of electoral reductions is conceivable if decentralized experiment fields, real laboratories, self-help networks and pockets of resistance against the mania for mobility, consumption and digitalization are created in niches of society. "This would be an uprising of the trading. At the same time, these pioneers were able to delegitimize and confront those who act in an ecologically irresponsible manner without good reason – in the neighborhood, at school, at work, in the pub – by exemplifying counter-designs."


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