Climate & Environment

Nobody wants permanent austerity, but the alternative is catastrophe

We are in an abusive relationship with capitalism, but it seems we are not willing to change a system that nurtures and threatens us

Moving with the herd: There are economists, journalists and others in positions of influence in Ireland who fully grasp our existential quandary, but they have mostly decided to keep schtum, knowing that taking a strong public position on this would be deeply unpopular. Picture: Shutterstock

Living within a capitalist system increasingly feels like being in an abusive relationship. Deep down, we know it’s bad for us, but for now our abuser meets all our needs and wants, and the alternatives seem unappealing. So we find ourselves in the jaws of a series of ever more intractable progress traps.

Consider our relationship with fossil fuels. The discovery of how to extract almost boundless energy from aeons of stored ancient sunlight transformed ...