The UN just released a paper explaining what humanity needs to do to deal with climate change, and some of the suggestions are a bit surprising.
"Today’s dominant economic theories, approaches, and models were developed during the era of energetic and material abundance," the authors point out. "Hence, they are inadequate for explaining the current turmoil."
The researchers hit all the usual points, such as bike-friendly cities, less energy usage, plant-based diets. But they also pointed out some ideas that people don't talk about so much. Like ...
A lot of people sure aren't going to like this one. It seems a little New Deal-y. But the report pointed out that income inequality means people struggle to get a job — any job. So lots of people fight over jobs that are bad for the environment. Under the new U.N. plan, "... all people capable and willing to work would be able to get a permanent, state-funded, and locally administered job."
If governments started handing out jobs, they could create positions like solar panel technicians that actually help the planet.
"It would lessen insecurity and the need to compete for environmentally destructive jobs on the individual and the collective level," added the writers.
"The construction industry is currently dominated by concrete and steel, whose manufacturing and other life-cycle processes are very energy-intensive and cause significant climate emissions and other types of waste," write the authors.
Instead, people can start making more houses out of wood. Of course, that doesn't mean chopping down rainforests for homes. Instead, people could start new tree farms, which themselves would help stabilize the climate.
Changing economic philosophies
Over the last few decades, it's become popular to imagine that markets should be as free from the government as possible. But as the study's authors point out, markets "would not and do not exist without political regulation."
The researcher add that "arguments against strong state governance presented above depend on a particular kind of economic theory, namely the neoclassical school. If we switch to another theoretical lens, looking at the economy from another perspective, these arguments lose their effect."