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Published, August 2014
Matt Sisson on how to flourish on a finite planet…
The world faces an unprecedented environmental crisis.
The current configuration of human development, with expansive economic systems at the centre, has a devastating impact on the Earth and threatens the existence of global civilisation as we know it. Policymakers seem incapable of engaging with the crisis. Where they do respond, their policies are woefully inadequate compared to the size and significance of the challenge. Meanwhile, many countries still struggle under the shadow of the 2008 financial crash. Banking and financial systems have not been reformed, economies are saddled with debt, and society is burdened by enforced austerity.
In the UK, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the stock market is booming again and house prices are once more going through the roof. Yet the value of wages is plummeting, and 500,000 people now regularly rely on food banks to meet their basic nutritional needs. More and more commentators believe another financial crash is imminent.
Rather than a disconnected set of coincidences, the Astronaut, the Cake, and Tomorrow shows how our environmental and economic crises are connected, and how they are the result of a human system that prioritises the ever-increasing consumption of the Earth’s resources over the well-being of the majority of its inhabitants. It shows how environmental disasters, devastating financial crises, and debilitating inequality and poverty are not an accident of history, but the result of decisions by powerful people pursuing the ideology of neoliberalism.
We have been conditioned to believe that there are no alternatives, yet our existing system is just another stage in history that is neither permanent nor inevitable. Despite the challenges our world faces, the future can be different.
After all, if people have made decisions then people can change them, or make different ones…
Clear, positive, and empowering, the Astronaut, the Cake, and Tomorrow shows how we can challenge the perceived wisdoms of our age.
We do not have to struggle on under the weight of debt and austerity. The UK is a wealthy country with more than enough money; it’s just the wrong kind of money and in the wrong place.
We do not have to submit to the magical ‘free-market’. Every human system is designed to produce outcomes that are better for some people than for others, and we can choose to shape our society and economy in ways that serve the long-term needs of everyone, rather than the short-term profits of a few.
We are not tied to endless consumption and growth, or to the slide towards ecological disaster. We can make changes to our financial and economic systems that allow us all to flourish within the sustainable limits of the Earth.
Wonderfully illustrated by Matthew Kay, The Astronaut, the Cake, and Tomorrow is an accessible, compelling look at the challenges we face, the connections between them, and of the better world that could emerge if we can find the imagination and political will to bring it into being.
About Matt Sisson
Matt Sisson is a campaigner, blogger, and a local coordinator for the Green Party.