Naomi Klein has an extraordinary piece in the American hard-left magazine The Nation. She argues that
The deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their “free market” belief system. …
Here’s my inconvenient truth: they aren’t wrong. … when it comes to the real-world consequences of those scientific findings, specifically the kind of deep changes required not just to our energy consumption but to the underlying logic of our economic system, the crowd gathered at the Marriott Hotel may be in considerably less denial than a lot of professional environmentalists, the ones who paint a picture of global warming Armageddon, then assure us that we can avert catastrophe by buying “green” products and creating clever markets in pollution.
I’m an engineer. Given a problem I work backwards from the solution.Do I think an abandonment of our current system is necessary? I think the case is on the table but not proven. I’d rather not go that far if iot could be avoided.
I am uncertain that Klein is broadly correct about solving the climate situation, but I find the argument plausible. I would greatly prefer to find an argument to the contrary, because I think the odds of success would be more palatable. I will say that at this point there are two things of which I am convinced. First, that the cultural changes required will be dramatic, even if the economic changes may not be: we need to have a better way of going from real world evidence to real-world governance. Second, that the longer we delay, the more likely that her position is right.
I also think I should add that Klein’s celebration of the local is somewhat ironic. The whole problem is that our system is incapable of adjusting to global constraints. Devolving more power locally will help many things, but it will not help us develop global policies that work. Climate, like it or not, requires some binding, global decision-making power with sufficient influence on local and individual decisions. And in this respect too, (despite their incredibly garbled and self-serving science) the opposition has a point. We’re best off not pretending otherwise.