Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trash the Economy, Save the Planet

So here’s the good news: global CO2 emissions are on track to fall 2.6% this year, thanks to the struggling world economy. This is not exactly unexpected, since the environment prospers whenever the economy doesn’t. I remember how quickly the air in Pittsburgh and Gary improved in the early 1980s, when the large rolling mills were shuttered forever.

You could see this as a recipe for long-run sustainability. Forget about wind, solar and energy efficiency. Just let the finance honchos go back to their ancienne regime bonus system, concentrate all banking in a few hands, let them “innovate” in a new generation of complex, unfathomable instruments, blanket their operations in secrecy and promise to bail them out if anything goes wrong. Then we can enjoy many more years of effort-free carbon abatement. But wait—that’s what we’re already doing.

This means Obama was right to tell the carbon conferees today that the US is taking effective measures to reduce its carbon footprint. He was being a little disingenuous, however, when he said “the recent drop in overall U.S. emissions is due in part to steps that promote greater efficiency and greater use of renewable energy.” There was another, bigger part he forgot to mention.


Anonymous said...

Trash the Economy, Save the Planet.

I agree. When you consider that most of the activity that is refered to when somebody says, "the economy", involves "creating jobs" that allow people to consume resources we go to war for to make products we'd be better off without then trashing the economy sounds pretty good to me. Saving the planet is just a side benefit.

It's just a metaphor, you know.

Sandwichman said...

And why do they insist on calling it "the economy" when it has been engineered as a toxic zombie waste-making contraption?