Enviromental benefits of a Guaranteed Livable Income
The environmental benefits of a guaranteed livable income are often overlooked because eliminating poverty and the subsequent improvements in human health are the most obvious and immediate effects that society would see upon implementation of a universal income benefit. However, human health is directly linked to the health of our environment; ultimately the most important benefits of a guaranteed income are to get us out of the destructive economic ruts we are in that are ruining the environment.
Robley E. George describes how in his 2008 SocioEconomic Democracy Platform:
Trading forests for shopping malls??
We are destroying the earth in an attempt to grow the world's economy with the idea that everyone can get a living wage job. The loss of clean air, clean water, forests, arable soil, all forms of "wild" life cannot be measured. Trying to create full employment to meet people's needs is stunningly costly, vastly wasteful and destructive to both the humans, nature and all living things. See Consumption.
It will be impossible to even begin to save other species and the world's environment as long as billions of people are desperate to escape poverty. People are forced to take any available job regardless of the impact that more production and more consumption has on other peoples, other forms of life and the earth as a whole. Without a GLI people won't have a means to stop destroying nature.
Instead of building more homes for people, the corporate political class insists that world society needs more luxury housing, hotels, office buildings, shopping malls, sporting arenas, golf courses and so on. The the corporate political class also wants to use our time and resources to drill for more oil and to dig out more gold and diamonds; to privatize the world's lands and resources to grow more coffee, tea, cotton, sugar, tobacco, cut flowers and other cash crops. See The Jobs Pardox.
Not only does the repeated consumption of certain products make people sick, it also makes all forms of life progressively sicker by polluting the air, water and soil that gives us all life.
Some degree of pollution would be understandable if world society were trying to grow enough food, and build and heat and cool housing and work places to keep the world's people healthy and alive. But this is not the case, for world society is risking life of the planet to produce more non-essentials and luxury goods.
Trying to create good paying jobs for all impoverished people in the world (over 2.8 billion people) would mean we would need several more planets of for resources and several more planets for waste even if we didn't have limits to consumption.
The quest for full employment will only make the current ecological crisis worse: First, people will be forced to continue to do ecologically destructive work in order to feed themselves and their families, and second, make-work projects are vastly more wasteful than just giving people money directly.
We cannot stop any ecologically damaging activities, or tell people to stop doing ecologically damaging activities, until we can tell people how they will feed themselves and their families when the work ends. Only if we can implement a transitional emergency guaranteed livable income can we save the environment.
See also: Economic Foundations and Environmental Progress for how the current economic system is in direct conflict with the progress of the environmental movement.