A Sharing Economy: Our Hope for a New Global Strategy
Whether catalyzed by Pope Francis’s encyclical, the wake-up call presented in Naomi Klein’s urgent polemic This Changes Everything, or the activists calling for system change worldwide, there is a growing realization that sustainable development goals and CO2 emission targets simply won’t be enough to remedy the climate crisis. Many millions of people now recognize that, without reforming the policies that are responsible for widening inequalities and for encouraging environmentally destructive patterns of consumerism in the first place, our response to socioeconomic and ecological crises will remain inadequate and fail to create what Charles Eisenstein calls the “more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”
Although periodic negotiations facilitated by the United Nations offer governments a vital opportunity to overcome national self-interest, prioritize the needs of the disadvantaged, and curb environmental damage, these conferences take place within a wider political and economic framework that is structurally incapable of delivering global social justice or sound environmental stewardship. The policies and institutions that drive our economic systems do not embody a basic spiritual understanding of our collective obligation to serve the common good of all humanity and protect the natural world.
To be sure, an outdated assumption that human beings are inherently selfish, competitive, and acquisitive has long defined the politics of domination and control and still underpins the way society is organized and the way the global economy functions. But the ongoing obsession with prioritizing national interests and safeguarding corporate profits has had devastating consequences for the world’s poor and the environment. As the economist David Woodward recently calculated, it would take 100 years to eradicate $1.25-a-day poverty if governments relied on global economic growth alone—and twice as long if we used a more realistic $5-a-day poverty line. Meanwhile, humanity as a whole has been in “ecological overshoot” since the 1970s, and most people in rich, industrialized countries currently enjoy lifestyles that would require between three and five planets’ worth of resources to sustain if they were the norm across the world.
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Makwana, Rajesh. 2016. A Sharing Economy: Our Hope for a New Global Strategy. Tikkun 31(1): 42.