Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth? Edited by Andrew Simms and Joe Smith.

This eclectic collection of essays illuminates one of the difficulties that modern capitalism faces. The ecological dilemma is multifaceted and awkward because of its international character. Even being adequately aware of the crisis is problematic, as some of the essays unwittingly underline.

Interestingly, David Cameron MP contributed to this project. The former Conservative Prime Minister put pen to paper while Leader of the Opposition. Before the pressures of governing got to him, Cameron dabbled in a fuzzy type of green politics. Perhaps it was a way of detoxifying the Tory brand, but the politician used a fragment of the philosophy of Edmund Burke as a way of reconciling conservation and Conservatism.

Once in power, Cameron allowed Chancellor George Osborne to set much of the agenda. A perceived economic imperative caused Cameron to water down his concerns about environmental sustainability. His early rhetoric about General Well-Being was replaced by the less progressive mantra of a Long-Term Economic Plan. Further, there was an early clue to the later lack of commitment because he was highly sceptical of the role of the state. Few citizens can participate in international negotiations in relation to climate change so state action is pivotal. He wrote:

“That is why social responsibility will enhance people’s quality of life so much more than the Left’s approach of state control: enabling people to be ‘do-ers’ instead of ‘done-fors’ ; active citizens instead of passive recipients.”

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