In 2005 the Make Poverty History campaign mobilised people up and down the country to drop debt, deliver on aid promises and end unjust trade. I was educating myself about environmental issues around the same time, and I came to the realisation that the two were connected.
The prevailing wisdom was that poverty would end as poor countries eventually ‘developed’ and became advanced consumer societies. But it seemed pretty obvious to me that this is impossible. There isn’t enough oil, land, water, forests or atmosphere for 7 billion people to all consume like Europeans or Americans. That model of the good life cannot be universalised.
That leaves us with a conundrum. Either lower income countries need to stop developing so that the richest can carry on consuming, or richer countries need to consume less to create ecological space. There’s only one ethical option of course. To make poverty history, we have to make wealth history at the same time.
That’s why I called the blog Make Wealth History, and I’ve been exploring that general idea ever since. The book I co-authored, The Economics of Arrival, covers similar territory and most of my freelance work does too. It’s more or less become my life’s work, so I’ve not been in any great rush to change it.
However, with every passing year, the connection to Make Poverty History fades a little further. I now have readers who don’t remember it at all. It needs to change to stay relevant.
Secondly, Make Wealth History always did make some people prickle. It’s a total non-starter in business and political circles. People are fine once I’ve explained it, but how many people are put off before they ever get to an explanation? I didn’t mind that when the blog was a small and personal record of what I was learning, but it’s become more of a problem as the blog’s reach has grown.
In short, the name holds the blog back. Some of you know this already, because you’ve written to me about it in the past. So it’s changing. It’s not a full relaunch in that I’m not planning to change anything else, and I’ll tell you more about the name next time.