Much of the argument against saving the earth has to do with saving jobs. We need these jobs, they say, so we can’t do anything that might threaten industries and businesses. Of course, this isn’t true: it’s only their profits that they care about. But somehow, this obstacle keeps putting an end to the conversations instead of inviting discussion around how to overcome it.
If jobs are a key concern, then let’s address that directly. We could have a whole new article about whether jobs should still be necessary at all in the modern age, but for today we just want to say that if jobs are an obstacle to fixing our planet, then let’s prioritize eliminating the harmful jobs and building new ones that heal and don’t harm.
The fact is, we already produce far more than we need, and far more than the earth can handle. (Check out www.overshootday.org.) So most jobs that we currently have are not really necessary, and their very existence actively harms people and planet. But until we restore the commons, we still need them in order to get the money to pay for rent and food. So how can we shift workers away from these harmful and wasteful jobs?
We would love to see massive public programs of retraining workers into new fields, while working to regulate and plan the winding down of toxic and unnecessary industries. But it seems unlikely. On a smaller scale, we are looking for people interested in leaving their jobs and starting sustainable, cooperative, worker-owned businesses that seek to meet community needs rather than investor profits. If we can do this everywhere, it can start to generate the power we need to really be something significant.
We are people first, before we are workers, and so we believe it is important to find ways to tend to our needs that don’t rely solely on jobs. This is just the beginning of a conversation that we hope will continue and lead to action. Ultimately, we know that if we no longer have to pay money to landlords and corporations to survive, then we can start to do work that is meaningful and important to us rather than just accept a job that will pay the bills.