A Strong Argument Against Climate Despair
Paul Krugman (admittedly one of my favorite columnists and definitely my favorite economist) publicizes new economic analyses that show that we CAN afford to significantly reduce emissions and even prosper while doing so. Far from having to “live in the dark and freeze,” as threatened by the Koch Bros misinformation machine, a move to renewable energy would reap many benefits, such as cleaner air and healthier people, while reducing emissions and meeting our energy needs.
Falling costs of renewables along with simple incentives like carbon pricing/taxes (as advocated by the Oregon Environmental Council which will be pushing a bill in the 2015 Oregon Legislature) are shown by these analyses to be able to support a growing economy without having to rely on dirty fuel sources.
[Watch the New Climate Economy video.]
Now to the despair part of the story: Krugman points fingers at the right (mostly) but also at the left for pushing what he calls a myth that carbon emissions and economic growth are inextricably linked. He takes my friends at the Post Carbon Institute to task for yoking carbon reduction to economic retrenchment. And, in a world where most people have seen their standard of living falling for the last decade, this feeds into the fears stoked by the Kochs and their friends in the coal and oil cartels that coping with climate change will destroy the economy.
Krugman points out that much economic growth nowadays isn’t about physical stuff, but about services and experiences–think software and education–and therefore growth can occur without more emissions. Getting people past the no-win of environment OR economy opens up the political space for action. Which is what we need, and soon.