Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Intellectual challenges should not be unanswered. In my previous article, Little Green, I made the following statement about the Green Party’s policies:
Economic stasis and trade restrictions cannot deliver environmental protection. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests “very rapid economic growth” and “the rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies” are the best outcomes for the Earth’s climate. Population growth is ameliorated in wealthier nations. Economic growth has allowed for early achievement of an UN Millennium Development Goal: nearly one billion people were lifted out of extreme poverty between 1990 to 2010.
Over the course of five tweets, one user responded:
“Very rapid economic growth” Tell me whp [sic] does that go to? Growth tells you nothing about distribution. In fact typical neoliberal rubbish. Oh and btw mist [sic] lifted out of poverty in China. Rest of the world was mostly left intervention in the economies. Stats don’t back you. Oh and on population yes as get richer population stabilises… confusing us with population matters.
What was being labelled “neoliberal rubbish” was the IPCC’s scenario modelling, which demarcates various trends of politics, economics, societies and technology into families, and predicts the effect of these scenarios on emissions, and consequently, the Earth’s climate. This is their description of the ‘A1 storyline’:
The A1 storyline and scenario family describes a future world of very rapid economic growth, global population that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter, and the rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies. Major underlying themes are convergence among regions, capacity building, and increased cultural and social interactions, with a substantial reduction in regional differences in per capita incomes.
This is hardly “neoliberal rubbish”.
Allow some generosity, and assume what was being meant was the desire for “very rapid economic growth” was “neoliberal rubbish”. The twin effects of globalisation on inequality is a rise in intra-national inequality but a fall in international inequality. In 1990, the American magazine Forbes estimated there were 99 billionaires in the world. By 2010, that figure was 1,011. Over that same time period, nearly a billion people were lifted out of extreme poverty. As a political trade-off, any emotional consternation at nearly a thousand more billionaires should be outweighed by the real reduction in misery and strife among nearly a billion people.
It is true that the two countries with the largest reductions of extreme poverty were China and India, during a period of market liberalisation. As The Economist article I cited states:
China (which has never shown any interest in MDGs) is responsible for three-quarters of the achievement. Its economy has been growing so fast that, even though inequality is rising fast, extreme poverty is disappearing.
This is a strange argument to make against the beneficent effects of economic growth on ameliorating poverty.
Whilst I mistakenly implied the Green Party believed in population constraints, for which I apologise, their policy document — which was last updated in 2003 — suggested the following:
PP104 There are many causes of population growth and some of these must be addressed to avoid overpopulation. Causes may be as basic as a lack of family planning information and contraceptives. Inequality and lack of opportunities can result in people having more children than they would otherwise want. On a wider scale, it has been observed that populations often increased following wars, social strife and environmental disasters.
To clarify, the Green Party believes that overpopulation is a problem, but one that should be avoided through soft means, such as sexual education and access to contraceptives.
Debate is the fundament of politics. Hopefully, the election will induce many courteous debates.