Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why 'Free Market Solutions' Will Not... Cannot... Address Global Climate Change

David Atkins (thereisnospoon) at Hullabaloo expands on a theme by David Roberts at Grist: not only is global climate change worse than you think, not only is some degree of it inevitable even at this point, but there is, at ground, no solution as long as we insist on approaching the problem through nation-states and (allegedly) free markets. Please go read those two posts before you undertake any serious dispute of that assertion on threads here. (Warning: at the moment, the Roberts/Grist article is serving atrociously badly on their web site. Expect a long wait.)

Many of you will quite understandably shrug, acknowledging the assertion as having already long since proved itself.

Some of you, though... probably not many who bother to read this blog... will object to the whole thesis of global climate change, or dispute its inevitability, or use old science or current papers by pseudo-scientists to dispute the fact of impending climate change, or tell me that God is going to save us. To those few of you, I say this: save your breath; if you're young now, you're going to need it when the shit hits the fan in a few decades.

Contrary to claims you've almost surely heard, science is not a matter of opinion (though there's no shortage of opinions among scientists) nor is it something you believe or don't believe, like a religion. Science is a collection of methods for creating effective explanations, together with the current versions of those explanations themselves. Science contains few if any eternal truths, but it offers the best way of obtaining the current best assessment of what is factually true, and how those facts interrelate. And in matters of global climate change, the best science indicates that, sooner rather than later, a lot of our coastal towns and cities will be under a lot of water, the life cycles and breeding patterns of many species will be unable to accommodate regional temperature changes (with extinction the likely consequence), and humans will continue to ignore the most basic markers of the human condition by fighting wars over what is left, and by suffering plagues we can only imagine. It is not a pretty picture, and it is already underway.

I wish I could propose some marvelous action you could take to avert this catastrophe, but I am afraid that flight departed a while ago. As for "free market solutions," I cannot even fathom what kind of virtuous investment strategy would induce corporations to take the needed actions soon enough to mitigate the worst effects of climate change... the free market is designed to operate on an extremely compressed time scale, and anything that happens a century from now, even if predictable, simply does not seem real to the people and institutions investing in industries whose actions may or may not make climate change happen.

So I have no preachy advice for you. Being who I am, I can't even provide you a tip on a hot new stock, and besides, the heat of that stock would contribute to the problem...


  1. No matter the denial, the perfidy, or whatever free market nonsense is spouted 'cause and effect' (the truth) will trump propaganda reality in the most devastating way.

  2. Also, Steve...check out this article on Counterpunch---



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