It’s been recently reported that even David Cameron now believes that global warming is responsible for the spate of storms that wreaked Britain over the last month. There are many explanations for the development of global warming but arguably at the root of the problem is a structural issue.
Most of the world adheres to capitalist economics, a system that encourages excessive consumption of every commodity imaginable. In the Western world especially this has led to a massive fixation with consumerism (only 330 shopping days until Christmas 2014!). This system not only harms the planet but also has a severe impact on human societies.
In countries such as the United States that expel a lot of carbon emissions, much research has found that there is also much more income inequality. In the UK, still a massive producer of carbon emissions, the top 10% of richest British citizens possess more than 850 times the amount of wealth held by the poorest 10%. ‘The Spirit Level’- by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett- demonstrates in eye-watering detail how a society with high levels of income inequality does much worse in almost all facets of life. Their recent work shows how life expectancy can differ by 25 years depending on whether you live in a rich or poor London borough. Among their conclusions, Wilkinson and Pickett argue that properly tackling environmental problems would contribute to the abatement of income inequality – and this abatement would also help us to save the planet.
Upon its publication in 2009, ‘The Spirit Level’ received widespread acclaim. In response, the authors established The Equality Trust to carry on their hard work. Local affiliate groups were also established, including in Birmingham. Since 2011, Equality West Midlands has raised awareness of income inequality and connected issues amongst politicians and the general public. Among our activities, we were proud to take part in the A41 Project that showed, through photography, the disparities between communities across the country. In 2014, we are looking to further develop our profile and would welcome the opportunity to work with anyone who, like us, is concerned by the harmful impact of income inequality on everyone’s lives.
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