The Economist gives up on halting Climate Change

This weeks leads editorial in the international business magazine 'The Economist' shrugs its shoulders and walks away from the idea of controlling Climate Change. This is very significant for The Economist is not a climate change denial publication, for some time (at least as far back as 2006) it has accepted the scientific consensus that human caused Climate Change is a real process with extremely serious implications.  So it giving up the fight is a very big deal indeed, and one that contains serious lessons for the Climate Change reformists who continue to believe that if enough pressure is put on a deal can somehow be struck at five minutes to midnight.

The Economist is quite unpopular with the denialists because its a very 'respectable' business magazine without the slightest reek of Patchouli to it. Indeed it doesn't take long to find outraged climate change denial blogs that hate the Economist. They don't like this edition either because it acknowledges that Climate Change is happening but has just switched positions to saying "It won’t be stopped, but its effects can be made less bad." That by the way is literally the sub heading and the lead goes out to spell just what is meant by less bad.

The stated reason for the change of editorial line (always a big deal at the Economist, coming out against the Iraq War involved the previous pro-war editor stepping down) is the lack of interest in the forthcoming Cancun Climate Change summit. After saying this is in part because of the feeling that the failed Copenhagen summit was over hyped the Economist has to acknowledge that "there is a growing acceptance that the effort to avert serious climate change has run out of steam." The best it can go on to say is that "Perhaps, after a period of respite and a few climatic disasters, it will get going again"

The Editorial goes on the acknowledge the consequences of inaction, droughts in arid areas, floods in wetter areas and the "livelihoods of hundreds of millions, mostly in developing countries, at risk" leading to mass migration. Which leaves it stuck with advocating a more open migration policy (an idea where anarchists can agree but will also recognize that such a policy change will hardly result from widespread disaster that puts hundreds of millions on the move). And, err, development.

You should read the full editorial and like me I suspect you'll come away struck at just how weak the argument is.  Why publish it all you may wonder.

The problem for the Economist is that its a fan of mostly unrestricted free market capitalism and the idea that the market can somehow sort everything out. The COP process though has demonstrated that the market can not tackle Climate Change because the drive for profit militates against reaching any effective deal that could control CO2 releases. The Economist acknowledged this in part back in May when it wrote in another article that "However much bosses may care about the planet, they usually mind more about their bottom line, and when times are hard they are unwilling to incur new costs."  Yes quite, that could have come straight out of Workers Solidarity.

As a magazine that feels it needs to have an answer to all the worlds major issues this leaves the Economist rather stuck. So they have decided to have a go anyway and come out with something that can convince no one. There is no solution for the Economist because the only solution is a world where production for profit for the few is ended so that we can start to make rational decisions about what is produced and how that will be built around the environmental impact of production. The 'right' to pollute will no longer be treated as something that has no cost or a cost that can somehow be traded for an unrelated pile of dollar bills.

The implications for those who take Climate Change seriously are profound.  Above all else it shows why mistaking the importance of dealing with it as a reason to drop other struggles is a huge mistake.  Climate Change is not an isolated problem, it is an integral part of the way capitalism works.  The transformation required to create an economic system that can truly value the life sustaining properties of the environment is so complete that it requires a struggle against capitalism itself.

Comments

The Australian government is

The Australian government is a climate change denier. Lead by people put into power by mining money and mass media ownership consolidated into one or two major companies with mining interests. I have nothing against the mining industry - but pushing mining without environmental concern is ludicrous. Every action has an equal reaction - it's just common sense. Our entire society is based on digging up and burning fuels so lets at least do it smart! Qld had a huge drought a few years back, and personal water usage was restricted to level 6, the tightest we'd ever seen. But then it turned out the power station was using a huge huge amount of fresh water to cool itself because the pipes from the recycled water plant hadn't been turned on properly. So whilst I was restricting my water usage, one corporation was using a huge huge amount of water to cool a plant. That's the essence of the problem. Get the corporations to improve their MASSIVE usage, and you see a huge drop in environmental damage. Think local? Act Corporate. - Brett Cravaliat Author of: http://www.cravaliat.com http://brett.cravaliat.com http://www.cravtography.com

Data centres are major power

Data centres are major power users with considerable carbon footprints. Such huge clusters of servers not only require power to run but also power to be cooled. It’s estimated that data centres, which house internet, business and telecommunications systems and store the bulk of our data, consume close to 4 percent of the worlds power supply. see http://www.datacentredesign.co/general/about.htm
The current volume estimate of all electronic information is roughly 1.2 zettabytes, the amount of data that would be generated by everyone in the world posting messages on Twitter continuously for a century. More stunning: 75 percent of the information is duplicative. By 2020, experts estimate that the volume will be 40 times greater than it was in 2010.

given the facts about 'public

given the facts about 'public opinion' the idea that one can't do anything about climate change may be reasonable, just as despite arguments by pacifists that war is unnecesary, other social forces exist ('path dependence' in the language of economnists) which suggest it will happen anyway at least in current conditions. (jusrt as slavery nor WW2 were neccesary to creation of blogs or hip hop music but that is how the story went (guru---hip hop artist)

of course the economist may be, as activists argue, making actually a 'self-confirming prophecy' (there is nothing we can do, so do nothing) based on their own interests. but the starry eyed opposite approach of 'true believers' and ones seeking a wikipedia entry on their martyrdom for a noble prize, is equally profitable.

i saw a guy promoting his book tour in common dreams on why places like japan are better than the usa since they are 'sustainable' and equal, as opposed to following the walmart path to the higher , utopian, ground. he's on a 20 city tour letting the m/asses know what he has researched thoroughly. (eg we can all make films like al gore's or michael moore's, and then fly around to film conferences, to stop global warming.)

so, perhaps to counter the economists' possibly self interested analyses, i should solicit funds to buy me a supsersonic plane so i can do a tour (masybe dig up john lenin and michael jackson to play congos) in which i discuss how, if people give up the loot, i plan to discover what is to be done and have my secretary write it up and post on a blog they can look at. (eg axiomsandchoices.blogspot.com) then it will be all good.
trust me, just me, not just us. a just u.s, will follow. my first step on the original path of 1 google steps may be to get another 12 pack of just ice. though high gravity may be more auspicious given the gravity of the situation; i already have steel reserve for my vegan vitamin supplements. (it has steel in, i gather, which is essential to optimal health.)

i heard andrew flood was in richmond. maybe that is why there was all these floods this summer. almost drownded. (police put me in handcuffs too when they were trying to 'save' me from drowning. 'i'd rather die than be touched by you'.)
---ishi

  


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