The biggest risk is the underpinnings of the populist movements. Why is it people are so angry across the world? When every country is angry, it doesn’t make for good international relations. And in this interconnected world, there is so much we have to do to improve international relations—if nothing else, to deal with global warming. My next book focuses on the dysfunctionality and breakdown of community in many parts of the world as part of the problem—and it demonstrates itself in some of these political movements.
Look, you don’t have to envisage the French Revolution, but ultimately property rights have to have the support of the people. They can’t be enforced by an army in a liberal democracy. As [the economy] gets more skewed and people feel they don’t have an opportunity to succeed they will give up on the system. How many decades has it been since a socialist got such a large share of the votes? I’m not sure if Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist, but that’s his stand. People get angry when they don’t see opportunity in a capitalist society—and far too many don’t. They do not want to be freeloaders and are perfectly willing to do what it takes but are not given a chance. You have to have you head stuck in the mud to ignore this.
The New York Times questions whether the French protests and the U.S. vote for Donald Trump suggests a class split beginning to emerge over global warming. Is global warming a boutique issue that only the well-off can afford to worry about? The answer is clearly yes if you look at the cost of renewable energy where every 1% increase in the electricity mix from renewables in the EU has lifted the electricity bill by around 4%. The sociologist Ronald Inglehart observed this back in 1995 that only the citizens that were rich enough not to fret about the cost could prioritize global warming agendas. With growth directly related to energy consumption, it is unsurprising that the poorer people are starting
to object. A couple of years ago, Margarita Mediavilla and a team from The School of Industrial Engineering of the University of Valladoid and the research group Energy, Economy and Systems Dynamics performed extensive simulations of the future using system dynamics models. The victory of Trump, as well as Brexit, the rise of the right wing in Europe, the fall of Asian trade and the war in Syria and Yemen were all part of their model 3 Scenario, which they said was the most realistic one. The scenario is based on the hypothesis of a return to national competition, protectionism, deglobalization, and the like. It is the least expensive in terms of energy required, but also the most environmentally damaging.
Scenario 3 describes a future of regional competition and return to National sovereignty. It assumes that regions will focus more on their self-reliance, national sovereignty, and regional identity, leading to tensions between regions and/or cultures. Countries will be concerned
with security and protection, emphasizing primarily regional markets (protectionism, deglobalization) and paying little attention to common goods, international environmental agreements, and cooperation for development. Scenario 3 describes a future of deglobalization and conflict, it and is, to a large extent, Trump’s conservative discourse. Scenario 1 is the scenario of globalization. The problem is that it requires a lot of energy.
There is also a Scenario 2, the one of green capitalism, a friendly version of Scenario 1, which gives priority to protecting the environment and reducing inequality, using technological advances, dematerialization, and the economy of services and information, but again this is very energy intensive. The bad news is that Scenario 3 is blind to environmental problems and leads to the war for resources because there is no lifestyle change towards an austere society based on renewable energy. Scenario 4, is a green version of Scenario 3 in which
people willingly accept the decline in their living standards and don’t compete for resources Trump’s victory and Brexit, like so many other things, shows us that the business as usual
options are no longer what we used to call business as usual. We can no longer choose between neoliberal globalization or a slightly more social globalization of sustainable development. In a world where the energy is getting more and more difficult to obtain those scenarios that minimize energy consumption are the ones that have more probabilities of