Please have a look at Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein. This is not the newest article, but I don’t think it got mentioned on P3 before and is well worth your attention.
Klein observed that “it is not opposition to the scientific facts of climate change that drives denialists but rather opposition to the real-world implications of those facts.” She quotes Dellingpole: “Modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the left: redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, greater government intervention, regulation.”
Naomi Klein offers her own “inconvenient truth”. She says that on this point, Dellingpole is right.
She begins with a shooting-fish-in-a-barrel report on a meeting of the Heartless Heartland Institute:
[a] question for the panelists, gathered in a Washington, DC, Marriott Hotel in late June, is this: “To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”
Here at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, the premier gathering for those dedicated to denying the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is warming the planet, this qualifies as a rhetorical question. Like asking a meeting of German central bankers if Greeks are untrustworthy. Still, the panelists aren’t going to pass up an opportunity to tell the questioner just how right he is.
But after a bit of barrel-fishing, Klein makes a deeper argument.
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. Before I go any further, let me be absolutely clear: as 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists attest, the Heartlanders are completely wrong about the science. The heat-trapping gases released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels are already causing temperatures to increase. If we are not on a radically different energy path by the end of this decade, we are in for a world of pain.
But 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.
After years of recycling, carbon offsetting and light bulb changing, it is obvious that individual action will never be an adequate response to the climate crisis. Climate change is a collective problem, and it demands collective action. One of the key areas in which this collective action must take place is big-ticket investments designed to reduce our emissions on a mass scale. That means subways, streetcars and light-rail systems that are not only everywhere but affordable to everyone; energy-efficient affordable housing along those transit lines; smart electrical grids carrying renewable energy; and a massive research effort to ensure that we are using the best methods possible.
In addition to reversing the thirty-year privatization trend, a serious response to the climate threat involves recovering an art that has been relentlessly vilified during these decades of market fundamentalism: planning. Lots and lots of planning. And not just at the national and international levels. Every community in the world needs a plan for how it is going to transition away from fossil fuels, what the Transition Town movement calls an “energy descent action plan.” In the cities and towns that have taken this responsibility seriously, the process has opened rare spaces for participatory democracy, with neighbors packing consultation meetings at city halls to share ideas about how to reorganize their communities to lower emissions and build in resilience for tough times ahead.
A key piece of the planning we must undertake involves the rapid re-regulation of the corporate sector. Much can be done with incentives: subsidies for renewable energy and responsible land stewardship, for instance. But we are also going to have to get back into the habit of barring outright dangerous and destructive behavior. That means getting in the way of corporations on multiple fronts, from imposing strict caps on the amount of carbon corporations can emit, to banning new coal-fired power plants, to cracking down on industrial feedlots, to shutting down dirty-energy extraction projects like the Alberta tar sands (starting with pipelines like Keystone XL that lock in expansion plans).
Now is this really closet Stalinism? A return to totalitarianism in the guise of environmentalism?
Klein doesn’t think so.
Only a very small sector of the population sees any restriction on corporate or consumer choice as leading down Hayek’s road to serfdom — and, not coincidentally, it is precisely this sector of the population that is at the forefront of climate change denial.
Still, while it would be nice to leave left vs right (a.k.a. “politics”) out of it, this is a question we really need to grapple with. Exactly how much of a threat is dealing with climate to the status quo. How much do we need to challenge the structures of the modern corporate world to solve our immediate problems? What can we afford to leave to later generations, or abandon altogether, or even gleefully discard? We have a lot to achieve; we’d best have some idea of what the least we can stand would look like.
Can we just implement Hansen’s climate tax and have Business-As-Otherwise-Usual? Is there a simple, market driven solution?
Is there a way to finesse the COP process and just get where we need to go, possibly with a bilateral agreement between the US and China? Is such an agreement possible?
Can we put off dealing with the perpetual-growth question for a while, until the climate matter is resolved? (I argue that we could, except for the economists using it to construct castles in the air, so insofar as we consult economists in planning the policies, we unfortunately cannot.)
What is the least threatening change that will suffice to keep us reasonably safe from collapse?