The climate emergency demands drastic changes in the way we have organized our economies and governments.
While the planet is filled with protests demanding action to curb the climate emergency and confront economic inequality, the heads of the world’s leading companies who met at the World Economic Forum do not seem to be aware of the urgency of the problem.
The World Economic Forum, held annually in Davos, is an ideal setting for the economic elite to meet with national leaders, as well as with members of civil society. The goal is to “improve the state of the world.” However, the last event showed that there is a profound disconnect between global leaders and the problems that concern the rest of humanity.
The forum openly celebrated the fact that the global gross domestic product is on the rise and will continue to be. The apparent end of the trade war between China and the United States, as well as the progress in the Brexit negotiations, was also welcome news. But the emphasis should have been placed elsewhere.
In his most recent book, “Progressive Capitalism: The Answer to the Era of Discomfort,” Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, laments the lack of urgency among the political and economic elite. Among their mistakes, says Stiglitz, is the obsession with GDP and insistence on applying policies that do not allow for addressing inequality. To that, he says, “We have to save capitalism from itself.”
The world urgently needs answers, and they are not coming. Populists and authoritarians continue to gain power in troubled waters, while in Davos, there is a sense of tranquility that is difficult to share.
Greta Thunberg, speaking at the forum, said, “Our house is still burning. Their lack of action is feeding the flames every hour.” Perhaps the most telling picture of the disconnection we have been discussing came from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said of the Swedish activist, “After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.”
Mockery and more arrogance. The climate emergency demands drastic changes in the way we organize our economies and governments, but in Davos, they answered with empty messages and the promise to plant a large number of trees. Our house is burning and we are not doing enough. Leadership must come from the private sector, from entrepreneurs who have shown admirable creativity in building their companies. They must now do the same to help us further the transformation necessary to survive. The effects of the climate emergency are already here and will continue to worsen. In addition, changes in temperature will cause more inequality, displacement and social tension. Given that scientific reality, we are missing the answer to the question of how we can improve the state of the world.
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