The financial crisis and a deepening economic downturn are threatening to delay efforts to deal with another pressing global crisis: climate change.
It’s not like this comes as any surprise. In fact, I’ve honestly been expecting as much. But that’s not to render it any less assclowny.
I just want to make sure that I understand this: when the economy, until recently, was presumably displaying all appearances of strength and vitality, we couldn’t embrace responses to climate change, because…why? Because the economy’s gangbusters? And if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?
But we can’t touch it now because it’ll cost too much.
< insert sound of Dave repeatedly banging his head against wall here >
The article comes oh so dangerously close to a breakthrough moment, emphasis added:
But the growing consensus in the United States that global warming is a serious threat has not been matched by a consensus in Washington over how to solve the problem. All of the proposed solutions would require broad changes in the economy and how Americans use energy, and all carry significant costs.
That is the whole point: broad changes in the economy are absolutely necessary.
I recognize that I remain outnumbered in my insistence that the construct of pitting and weighing environment against economy is completely and dangerously false.
I recognize also that I may be worm food long before majority understanding comes around on this.
I will only concede that, ok, yeah, maybe addressing environmental concerns does run counter to an economic system that sucks ass; to a truly, mind-numbingly shittily designed economic system–one that trades in currency based on nothing tangible, but rather on (too often exploited) faith, that thrives on extraction of non-renewables, that relies upon the shift of burdensome costs onto the public, that privatizes gains and socializes losses; to a system where growth is a God whose edicts we dare not question, where instilling an appreciation, instead, of “enough” is akin to explaining bowling to a banana slug.
So, yes, I can see how the fattened champions of an economic system totally divorced from the laws of physics and nature might feel threatened by a push to abide by the laws of physics and nature.
But the supposition that we can’t afford to begin to do things differently, for fear of upsetting the Free Lunchers’ apple cart, is beyond cracked.
Be very, very clear about this:
There will always be entrenched interests aligned in their resistance to any meaningful change in our view of energy (and the economy, and the environment). There will never be any shortage of excuses–in good times or challenging–for why it’s not a good time to tackle this. From the select, powerful few, there will always be cause–thoroughly rationalized–as to why we can not, must not deal with energy in a profound, top-to-bottom, systemic manner.
For these, it’ll never be a good time.
The “significant costs” of energy realignment are not big piles of dollars sucked into a vortex. This is an investment–ok, a series of investments, and big ones at that–and there are returns to this investment: new, domestic, and non-outsourceable jobs; reduced health costs owing to diminished environmental impacts; improved natural resource and ecosystem productivity owing to same; endless billions of dollars that do NOT need to be shipped to OPEC nations, and put on our China tab.
The cries of “but, we can’t afford it” speak to a need to just wake the hell up. Did peak oil go away? Do challenging economic times erase the need to look beyond oil?
Are oil exploration and extraction activities all of a sudden free? Hell, if we can’t invest in new energy, then pissing money away into old energy (which gives us nothing except another chunk of stolen time in putting off the inevitable) must certainly be off the table as well.
How is a time of global, systemic, economic tumult not a perfect and opportune time to address this?
The house of cards has come down. Let’s put the damn deck away, and build more durably.
Sweet. Merciful. Crap. THANK you!
WARSAW (Reuters) – Tackling climate change will help, not hinder, governments’ efforts to overcome the global financial crisis, the EU’s environment chief said on Tuesday.
The 27-nation European Union has set ambitious goals to curb carbon dioxide emissions by a fifth by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, partly by making power generators and heavy industry pay for permits to pollute in its emissions trading scheme.
“We think this (climate) package is consistent with solving the financial crisis… At the moment, people are focused on the economic crisis, but our package is part of the solution,” Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told reporters in Warsaw.
“Fighting climate change means investment in energy efficiency, promoting renewable sources and providing incentives to stimulate the economy and contribute to growth.”
The EU also argues that moving to a low-carbon economy will create jobs and reduce the bloc’s exposure to volatile prices of fossil fuels such as oil and coal which lead to global warming.
Look. I get it. I’m a non-mainstream amalgam of idealism and premature curmudgeonhood. I can pop off on stuff that strikes me as the poster child of obviousness and/or critical importance, and may get a blank stare in response.
I will not pull a muscle patting myself on the back here. I’ll merely offer up that it’s a welcome minor victory to encounter the musings of those who have a stand on a far more significant and visible platform than the one I currently enjoy who view this matter of economy-environment-energy overlap pretty much the same way I do.