//This Dev Blog was originally posted as an update on the Earth Rising Kickstarter on September 14th, 2021//
In Earth Rising, the efforts to transform our world require a lot of cooperation. But even with forward thinking, quick adaptation, and close teamwork, even the best teams can be undone by the powerful forces that lurk within the Influence deck.
That’s right, we’re talking about the Status Quo!
Who are the Status Quo, and why don’t they want things to change?
Unlike the over 6 billion people of the world we spoke about last week, who actively struggle due to the way things are, the Status Quo represents those incredibly small few who overwhelmingly profit from the current situation.
While the stand-out obvious people are the billionaires who parade their wealth, the Status Quo also refers to corporate lobbyists, media manipulation, austerity measures and many others who compound the situation in order to prolong the period where we are dependent on fossil fuels, accept large quantities of single-use plastics as cheap packaging, and demand huge quantities of red meat without considering the true price paid for it.
The wealth generated from this state is not insubstantial. The meat industry in the US alone is worth $838 Billion.Global Oil and gas drilling accounts for 2.1 Trillion. These are, to most people, unimaginable numbers, and it very much puts into perspective the level of capital that moves around the world, especially alongside our poverty statistics from Dev Blog 8.
Of course, the desire to protect their position of power and an extremely large source of income is understandable on an individual and selfish level, but it’s important to recognise that transitioning the world away from the damaging practices we’re dependent upon does not even mean they will lose their money!
As public support grows for ecologically friendly services, we’re beginning to see more of those monolithic companies buying up and implementing those very same services. Many of them have the capital to completely divest from unsustainable practices and reinvest into sustainable ones without any concern to their viability.
So why don’t they just do that?
An Unsustainable industry doesn’t equal a profitable industry
The answer is that their sources of income are actually only profitable due to subsidies. Meat in particular is incredibly subsidised to offset how expensive and inefficient it is to produce in comparison to how much people are willing to pay for it. Your government pays that price so you don’t have to, allowing an industry to survive on the basis of assumed demand.
The oil and gas industries, despite their excessive profits, also enjoy hefty subsidies. This was originally designed to incentivise the development of more power sources, but these same subsidies are not extended to green energy. Instead, governments the world over pay rates to these companies to allow their existing infrastructure to remain accessible and affordable, otherwise prices would rise and people would lose support. Where do the governments receive the money they pay these subsidies with? Taxes.
This means the money that could be used to either integrate green energy or build and maintain new infrastructure is instead spent propping up damaging, unsustainable industries that lead to negative effects on their populace.
This is the real reason they defend their industries by any means necessary. Green infrastructure doesn’t have the same existing subsidies that allow them to be paid to make a profit. Oil and gas across the world have combined subsidies equal to 3.1 Trillion; 19 times higher than the subsidy total for renewable energy (which is granted just over $163 billion globally).
Find the root and you find the solution
Oil, gas and meat aren’t the only unsustainable industries propped up by subsidies, and the deeper you dive the more you discover that the industries most dominant in your society are almost certainly benefitting from this same system, and that means the root of power lies at home.
This means that we can change what our society decides to incentivise, and in turn create change. There is the argument that, hypothetically, you could look at Earth Rising’s Social Practice counters not as existing practices but as active subsidies which in turn support the development of those real businesses.
Does that make for an attractive game? Not really, but it could be a more realistic perspective on how change is made!
In Earth Rising the Status Quo hit a sector harder depending on how many Sustainable Practices are in play.
Simply, this is representative of the unsustainable industries or lobby-groups doing all they can to turn the tide of your success and defend their legacy of profit, so the more they see their control slipping, the harder they’ll fight back.
Nearer the end of the game they’ll start popping up more often, and we’ve had several games with them stopping us achieving our goal right at the last moment.
Have you beat the Status Quo and transformed our world? Drop a comment below and share your experience!
Enjoying Earth Rising's Dev Blog? Leave a comment below, or read on in Dev Blog 11 - The Climatologist: Analysing Our Way Toward Sustainability