Saturday, August 4, 2018

Mush versus Mush on Climate Change

The very long New York Times piece on climate change politics in the 1980s by Nathaniel Rich has attracted a lot of critical commentary—justifiably.  To say that the failure to achieve a political response was due to human nature, a genetic defect that prevents our species from planning ahead, is just lazy and wrong.  Were the scientists, environmentalists and other activists that did want to take action a bunch of mutants?  Haven’t humans acted with foresight (and also failed to act) since time immemorial?  “Human nature” explains everything and nothing; it’s what you invoke when you don’t want to do the digging a real explanation would require.

I wish the left had a solid response to this immobilizing mushiness, but instead it mostly offers its own version of counter-mush.  A case in point is Naomi Klein.  I’ve already written at length about her book This Changes Everything: Capitalism and the Climate, but I don’t want to let her latest piece at The Intercept pass without notice.

Klein rightly excoriates Rich, but then goes on to make this argument:

Capitalism, not human nature, is responsible for climate inaction.
Capitalism is an ideology that worships profit and “endless growth”.
Its purest form is neoliberalism.
The late 1980s was the high water mark of neoliberalism, so climate activism was suppressed.
We must reject capitalism by adopting the earth-centered philosophy of indigenous peoples.
Politically, this means embracing a caring economy of green jobs, meeting human needs and rejecting “extractivism”.

If this were just Klein’s own idiosyncratic viewpoint we could shrug and move on, but since it reflects what may be the main current in left thinking about the climate crisis, it matters that it turns what ought to be well focused and clear into a thick, gummy soup.

No, capitalism is not an ideology.  What makes Jeff Bezos a capitalist is not his belief system but his ownership and deployment of capital.  Capitalism is a system of institutions that give economic and political primacy to the possession and control of capital.  There is no single metric that captures the effect that a capitalist context has on an issue like climate change, but the starting point is surely anticipated capital gains or losses from a given policy.  (One way we can tell that existing policies are largely toothless is that their enactment had imperceptible effects on asset prices.)

Yes, the 1980s was the zenith of the modern neoliberal project, but there are currents within neoliberalism that support climate action.  One doesn’t have to be a fan of this school of thought to recognize that it’s not monolithic on environmental matters—or on racism, criminal justice, public health and other questions.

Countering a climate disaster is not about changing one’s philosophy of economic growth or living a more natural lifestyle; it’s about keeping carbon in the ground.  I’m all for shifting production to more socially beneficial purposes, but that’s not what will prevent temperatures from rising far into the red zone over the decades to come.  The problem is too much carbon in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels, so the solution is to collectively limit them.  That means either setting up a permit system, with a tight cap on how many permits can be issued, or taxing fossil fuels into unaffordability.  The main reason governments haven’t taken this path is business opposition, and not just from fossil fuel corporations.  What motivates Team Capital is not a shared philosophy, but the belief, probably justified, that really effective action would eat into the value of their investments.  Fighting climate action is as rational for them as cutting an unnecessary production cost or cultivating a new, profitable market.

If you look at it this way, the left has a crucial role to play in climate politics, to clearly spell out the difference between the rationality of capital and the rationality of the human race.  Everything else—the fixation on degrowth, the claim that action on climate requires concomitant revolutions in cosmology and lifestyle—is a distraction.  Which is not to say that delving into consciousness and how to live a good life are unimportant, of course, just that, on this particular issue, what the left should be offering is clarity.  It’s as if you had a plumbing problem in your house, called up a progressive plumbing service, and were told that the real problem is your failure to envision the hydrological cycle in its global fullness and reorient your use of all natural resources.  Yes but no.

To turn Klein’s thesis around, the tragedy is that our awareness of an impending climate catastrophe arose just at the time that the left had entered a state of maximum confusion and diffusion.  It’s not too late to change this.


Anonymous said...

Excellent criticism; mush and mush unfortunately, the NYTimes and Naomi Klein.

What then makes Germany or China so currently willing to work on climate change? Different political-economic system but the same sort of willingness to work on climate change. Possibly you could talk about China and Germany in this regard.

Peter Dorman said...

Anon: I confess ignorance about China. Germany is a complex story. Yes, there's an Energiewende that has made dramatic strides. *No, Germany has not significantly cut its carbon emissions.* There's a substantial literature on this paradox. The short version of the German situation is that it has followed the path of least resistance. Germany has taken important steps in climate policy where business opposition is minimal, such as investments in renewables. On the crucial matters where major investments are at risk, however, Germany is a conservative force. It has not pushed for tighter carbon limits in the ETS, has not weaned itself from coal, and shills for the auto industry at every turn. I have a fuller treatment of these issues in my book (should be published next year).

The political economy of Germany is a fascinating topic, incidentally. In some ways it has made more progress toward socialism than anyone else; in others it is deeply retrograde. It is a structural surplus country, which has economic, political and even cultural aspects. (It needs an external surplus to prosper, a sort of addiction.) We could talk a lot about Germany....

Peter T said...

Are you are you are not saying the same thing as Naomi, but in different words? If all attempts to seriously address the issue run up against the determined and effective opposition of the owners of capital, then the problem is "capitalism" - that is, a system structured around the power of capital.

Peter Dorman said...

Peter T: I wish NK were saying what you said and what I said. I don't think she is.

Anonymous said...

"The short version of the German situation is that it has followed the path of least resistance. Germany has taken important steps in climate policy where business opposition is minimal, such as investments in renewables. On the crucial matters where major investments are at risk, however, Germany is a conservative force. It has not pushed for tighter carbon limits in the ETS, has not weaned itself from coal, and shills for the auto industry at every turn...."

Good grief, I am so grateful since I completely misread what has been happening in Germany. I will question Deutsche Welle from now on. Also, pronouncements are repeatedly made in Germany on climate change but follow-through must be tracked.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

As for China, government policy pronouncements are meaningful and continual attention is being given to matters of climate change. Transition away from coal is not just a stated goal but the progress is continually looked to and reported actively on Xinhua:

March 12, 2018

Four Years After Declaring War on Pollution, China Is Winning
Research gives estimates on the longer lives that are now possible in the country.
By Michael Greenstone

Anonymous said... reports repeatedly on progress on climate change goals in China. China is changing surely and rapidly to become increasingly climate or environment sensitive and friendly. When the Chinese leadership talks about cleaning rivers or reclaiming land, the response is monitored. Of course there is always more to be done, but the Chinese goals are to be met. Also, Germany carmakers have not dared and would not dare flout the Chinese goal of cleaner vehicles.

Peter Dorman said...

Anon: I read DW too -- pretty good for a public news source. My "output metric", however, is not government pronouncements or even money spent on beneficial projects like green energy and infrastructure, at least not in this context. I'm looking at actual carbon emissions benchmarked against a trajectory consistent with global stabilization at 450 ppm. No country is remotely close to that, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of extreme risk. The job of political economy is to explain this situation.

Bruce Wilder said...

I cringe when I see "capitalism" reified into a political actor and mentally brace myself for the Monty Python* political agenda that so frequently follows. Naomi Klein does not disappoint, unfortunately.

Still, Klein has a point: an ascendant neoliberalism did euthanize nascent efforts to address global climate change. I have less of a problem with treating neoliberalism as a metaphorical actor and explanatory; neoliberalism does seem to me to be a coordinating ideology of singular potency. So, if capitalism is not an ideology, neoliberalism is, and for Klein's critique of Nathaniel Rich's sloppy** historical narrative to work, that is enough. I only wish neoliberalism had reached its zenith as long ago as the 1980s; it might be descendant by now instead of soldiering on, still with an unshakeable grip on power, thru the series of catastrophes it has caused, of which runaway climate change may well prove to be the most consequential in the long run.

Still, neoliberalism as the last ideology standing cannot be explained solely as the winner winning; some explanation for why the left has collapsed into confusion and diffusion (and what might be done about it) is called for. Some part of that explanation could lie with the narcotizing dysfunction*** of mass communication, combined with the successful neoliberal agenda of undermining the institutional foundations of the left (see Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class). That the left has only a vague hankering after transcendent consciousness where an economics is called for is a serious, serious problem.

"Carbon taxes or capped marketable permits?" -- the neoliberal policy approach -- seems to me typical of neoliberal policy approaches: designed to fail. First of all, it frames a policy debate that can be carried on entirely within the neoliberal framework of ideas. As a policy design, either approach fails for exactly the reason that Peter Dorman pinpoints: economic rents and the prospective capital gains or losses from policy implementation means that political opposition gathers strength at exactly the moment that the policy starts to gain traction. So, you can enact the policy, it just cannot be carried thru. (And, yes, I am cynical enough to believe that this is by design even if most of journeyman advocates of neoliberal "market-based" policy at Think Tanks doing PR disguised as policy research may be superficially sincere idiots useful to the powers-that-be.)

So, though I agree that Klein's proffered alternative of cultural transformation thru transcendent consciousness is useless mush, I think she's right that neoliberalism is the obstacle to effective political governance and its unshaken grip on mind and political power is driving the world over the cliff.

*And Now for Something Completely Different low-budget 1971 sketch comedy film compiled from the first two series of Monty Python's Flying Circus

**Bangladesh is to be a desert apparently. That would be a neat trick, an underwater desert.

***Narcotizing dysfunction -- a theory from a 1957 paper by two truly great sociologists, Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Robert K. Merton -- worth looking up.

Bruce Wilder said...

The science of climate change has been remarkable for its clear-eyed pursuit of a sophisticated understanding of the physical processes now set in motion and an assessment of the consequences. The ability of human beings work together socially at great scale on deepening knowledge is beyond impressive. If there is a feel-good story about "human nature" and its potential for greatness, it is there. Truly.

The economics of climate change, however, has been shameful. The economics of IPCC integrated assessment models is just god-awful dreck -- groundless abstract projections of growth generating terrible rhetoric about trading-off growth for reducing the "risks" of climate change. For years, the "serious" economists have been clucking over the cost-benefit analysis appropriate to buying an insurance policy -- save me from oversmart idiots! (Here's a clue: you cannot insure the planet unless you have another planet to fill out your portfolio.)

If the left has no economics, the neoliberals have an economics that is worse than useless. This is a bad situation, but denial does not help. We are not going to be able to fight this war with the economics we have -- at least not the neoclassical economics we have. There are a lot of ideas floating around in mainstream economics that are relevant, but the architecture of the neoclassical framework is so wrong as to make it in this case a vehicle of agnatology. Uncertainty, control and entropy cannot be boxed up and ignored. Ergodic equilibrium cannot be retained.

I do not think that there is good news in a more realistic economics: the human population is on track to overshot Malthusian limits by an order of magnitude. Collective action at scale really is very hard, for good reasons economists have proven theoretically. We need to re-design the infrastructure of the economy to reduce all energy use -- not just fossil fuels -- to maybe a fifth of current rates to preserve the assimilative capacity of the earth's environment. I really do not think the issue of adding too much carbon to the active carbon cycle can be parsed neatly from the arc of the industrial revolution and population growth relative to natural resource limits and depletion. Calling a plumber to put in a better sump pump because a rising water table has flooded the basement when the water isn't going to stop rising until the house is overtopped exemplifies the limitations of adaptationist thinking.

Neoliberalism is an ideology of self-serving elite adaptation. The powerful will do what they will, to adapt; the weak will suffer what they must. This will not work out well in the very long run.

Peter Dorman said...

Bruce, I think it's essential to separate neoliberalism as an ideological camp from the power shift associated with financialization, the defeat of labor movements and the collapse of Communism that occurred in the late 20th century. Yes, there's an overlap, but the reason there was inaction on climate change and a full-bore assault on social democracy was not that lots of people suddenly became believes in Hayek or Friedman, but that the balance of power lurched toward the plutocrats.

In fact, there are many neolibs who strongly advocate action on climate change. I may not agree with them on much else, but they see the problem and want to deal with it. Of course, *these* neolibs were not the ones who were empowered under the revamped political economy.

I disagree that a carbon tax or a capped permit system is intrinsically designed to fail; in fact, there is no other way to keep carbon in the ground. (If you disagree, suggest another.) What kills these proposals in real life are measly targets and giant loopholes (like offsets). Those problems exist because of who calls the shots, not some sort of intellectual blindness. I've exchanged views with conservative, religiously neoclassical economists who agree completely on this point.

On a technical front, I agree with the criticisms of IAM's, but I think the collective body of IAM-generated pathway scenarios used by the IPCC is very helpful. There's a rather long discussion of this in my climate book. What economics has nothing to contribute to, however (and as you also state), is what the stringency of carbon targets should be. We should take our bearings from climate science and do what we need to do. said...

A minor point is that a non-trivial part of Germany's staying on coal and not doing so well on carbon emissions was that they decided to get rid off their climatically clean nuclear power plants after the Fukushima disaster,even though none of their nuclear power plants is in danger of being damaged by a tsunami.

Peter T said...

There is a core of truth in Naomi's approach - if we are to survive on this plant, we need to move from the human-centred thinking of the enlightenment to something that incorporates Darwin - that we are just another species in a web of life (his "tangled bank'), utterly dependent on that web, and not privileged to damage it at our peril.

This would be a profound shift - one comparable to the change from theocentrism to humanism. Unfortunately, that took around 300 years, and we do not have that long.

Calgacus said...

What motivates Team Capital is not a shared philosophy, but the belief, probably justified, that really effective action would eat into the value of their investments.
And drastic climate change wouldn't?

Fighting climate action is as rational for them as cutting an unnecessary production cost or cultivating a new, profitable market.
Umm, no. This is special pleading. Fighting climate action that is probably necessary to protect your investments, your life, your civilization whatever, is simply insane. They are simply idiots and economists hijacking of the word "rational" for such behavior is a part of the problem. And we are idiots too for letting them get away with it.

"Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?"
There is an ever present temptation to make history or current events out to be less stupid than it really is.

Peter Dorman said...

Calcagus: (a) Discounting. Climate action is, or should be, now; climate impacts are decades off. (b) Cost burden. Actually, many costs of climate change, horrific as they are, have little or at least very indirect implications for current investments. How will rampant forest fires or extreme heat events affect the value of investments in auto production or retail sales or other major spheres?

Regarding rationality, it's a mistake to assume that large enterprises that spend billions of dollars analyzing and trying to improve their financial position are not rational in some sense. It's never a good idea to underestimate your enemy.

Bruce Wilder said...

Perhaps obviously, perhaps not, I think it is essential NOT to separate neoliberalism as an ideology cum evolving policy agenda from the rise of plutocracy, financialization, globalization, the decline of labor unions, the fall of Communism, etc. Neoliberalism is entwined with its opportunities and its achievements. I do think it is important to understand that neoliberalism is not one fixed thing, not one simple unified doctrine or political stance, but a self-sustaining dialectic between nominally opposing poles: Thatcher and Blair. Brad DeLong is as thoroughly neoliberal in his outlook as Hayek or Friedman (who certainly did not agree) back in the day. (This breadth and adaptability leads some to claim neoliberalism is nothing at all, which makes for a convenient neoliberal apology -- Dani Rodrik has been peddling such.)

Neoliberalism's greatest strength as an ideology, combined with plutocratic funding for neoliberal careers, has been that dialectic. When it works its mind capture magic, we hear the infamous neoliberal catchphrase coined by Thatcher but repeated many times since: There Is No Alternative (TINA).

I was a bit shocked to hear you claim TINA -- "there is no other way to keep carbon in the ground" than either carbon tax or capped permits. First of all, on their face, either is a plan to keep burning fossil fuels indefinitely, so not really a plan to keep carbon in the ground. Second, the infrastructure of transportation, housing and electric power generation are (and always have been even in the so-called market economies) subject to direct state-sponsored administrative planning. If we want to eliminate, say, coal-fired electric generation capacity, we can schedule its shutdown, regardless of the price of coal. If we decide that the coal can stay in the ground, we can stop permitting mountaintop removal -- there is an idea! If we want a transportation system that consumes NO fossil fuels, we will have to design and build it. Hiking the price of fossil fuels and waiting thru fifteen years of economic suffering for "the market" to magically answer the call is crazy. I do not know what your theory of politics is, but I do not think that can work; it is trying to lead the donkey by the tail -- you will get kicked every time.

Plutocratic domination, you may argue, precludes such rational planning in the general, public interest, at least as long as the plutocrats are either unconcerned about being unable to buy a future they like or planning an escape to Mars. Meanwhile, neoliberalism provides the policy wonks a nice if ultimately useless living, paid for not incidentally by said plutocrats.

Calgacus said...

Flooding of cities has a pretty direct influence. Nobody knows when the impacts would come. The possible costs are enormous and dwarf the costs of actions now. It is highly irrational, even in the absurdly restricted economistic senses, to discount the possibility of major bottom-line effects as much as they do.

They are rational in some sense - sure. But not in most senses that the word "rational" has ever been used; I don't think they even graduate to economistic rationality. You might say they have a different - and highly irrational - philosophy.

On underestimating - that just isn't the problem for the left. Anywhere. The opposite, painting Team Capital as all-powerful and all-knowing and governments as their mere puppets is a huge problem. The effect is the left teaches itself learned helplessness. So, when the left has an opportunity to do something, it commits suicide rather than actually do something other than whine- e.g. Greece under Tsipras opts for impoverished slavery in the Eurozone, over prosperous independence under a negotiated Grexit.

Peter Dorman said...

Calgacus: "The possible costs are enormous...." Costs to whom?

Team Capital can be rational, on its own terms, without being all-powerful and all-knowing. On the contrary, I'm trying to find a strategy to *defeat* them.

Bruce: Let's put aside carbon taxes, which I view as second best, and consider just auctioned permits. In what way does this imply burning fossil fuels indefinitely? Depends on the cap, doesn't it? And, no, your alternatives, desirable though they are, do not keep fossil fuels in the ground. Or, they would if and only if public investments would reduce demand for fossil energy to zero in a time frame consistent with stabilization at 450 ppm. That's a very strong assumption on your part. Are you prepared to justify it?

I'm neoliberal enough to think that the most reliable way to keep fossil fuels in the ground is to make it illegal for people to extract and burn them. You can't do this all at once without economic armageddon, but you can put yourself on a pathway that gets to zero without busting the 450 ppm budget.

I've come to think that most of "left" discourse around climate change is a working out of the bad begets bad, good begets good heuristic. Neoliberalism is bad, and climate change is bad, so neoliberalism must be responsible for our failure to act on climate change. Full employment in meaningful jobs and heightened environmental awareness are good, so a green investment program combined with a more conscious lifestyle will fix the problem. Do you think I'm too cynical?

Barkley Rosser said...

Let me drag in some old fashioned comparative economics here.

So supposedly some earth-centered socialism will do better than our current US system, which is certainly largely market capitalist, and, in contrast to pretty much all of the rest of the world politically run by a lesdership that outright denies that there is global warming and is actively undoing policies that were directed at attempting to combat it, however ineffectually.

So, maybe an earth-centered socialism will do better than say the EU currently is, but it is not obvious to me what such a system would actually do in practice. Talking about being in synch with US Native American philosophies is all very nice, but also pretty darned vague.

As it is, our historic command socialist economies had awful environmental records, which remains the case for the most important remaining one, North Korea, whose ag-environmental disasters resulted in outright famine some years ago. Indeed, one of the major political pressure groups that pushed in Eastern Europe to undo the Soviet system were environmentalists outraged by the horrendous environmental records their nations were generating. And, in fact, in most of those nations environmental conditions have improved, substantially in some of them, since the fall of that system.

This came about because the old command central planners focused on material output as their planning focus. In theory they could have taken into account pollution and so on, but in practice they did not. A major reason for this was that they were not political democracies, so when people became unhappy about rising pollution levels, they had no way of getting that unhappiness responded to in the system. In contrast, in the high income market capitalist nations when people became unhappy about pollution in the 1960s, the democratic political systems responded at least somewhat in the early 1970s by passing laws and setting up regulatory agencies like the EPA. And make no mistake about it, while the global warming situation has not been controlled, many kinds of pollution have been drastically reduced. I saw the Cuyahoga River in 1965 when it caught fire, and it was a putrid pink/brown stennhing mess. Today it looks like regula r water, and there are chi chi fern bar restaurants and such on the walkway over it.

Probsbly more important is the intermediate case of China, nominally sociaiist market and not democratic. It seems to be making moves to combat at least some kinds of pollution and also global warming, even as it is the world's largest emitter of CO2. I do not think its efforts match those of nations in the EU, but as of right now its efforts look a lot more serious than what is going on in the US. A simple observation on China is that it seems that its shift from the traditional focus on material output only to worrying at least somewhat about pollution came when Beijing hosted the Olympics, and I think in fact that the ruling elite itself is unhappy about the severe air pollution in Beijing and other major cities. It is not popular democratic pressure, but the leadership itself disliking the pollution that is driving what reform policies they are engaging in.

Anyway, I am not impressed with NK's vaporizings on all this, frankly. Maybe they make people feel motivated to "do something," but she does not offer all that much specifically about what that should be, although there is plenty of hand waving going on.

Thornton Hall said...

The problem with treating concepts like “capitalism” as if they are causally connected to human behavior is that we treat it like a billiard ball in physics: a discrete entity with edges that exerts a force when it bumps up against another discrete thing.

But human behavior is a life science. Does it make any sense to say “the Carboniferous Era caused climate change”? No. It’s boundaries aren’t sharp. It isn’t the kind of thing that is properly thought of as participating in causation.

This is the kind of thing going wrong with the social cost of carbon nonsense. Newtonian physics can predict the future if you know the location and acceleration of all the objects. So thinking like a Newtonian, economists predict the future. Humans intuitively know that this is nonsense. Our natural reaction to nonsense is why the social costs of carbon rhetoric is an obstacle to doing the right thing on climate change.

Calgacus said...

Team Capital can be rational, on its own terms, without being all-powerful and all-knowing. On the contrary, I'm trying to find a strategy to *defeat* them.

Sure, it could be rational, in another world, but it very plainly isn't in this one. Strategy built on extraordinary and implausible assumptions is not likely to be good. The only argument I see here is "They're so rich, they must be smart." I don't think it is a sensible one.

If you look at it this way, the left has a crucial role to play in climate politics, to clearly spell out the difference between the rationality of capital and the rationality of the human race.

That's precisely what should not be focused on. It should be ignored, because there isn't any real difference. To the extent that there is, climate change is a nothingburger. So some climate changes might be of interest to hug-a-tree envirowhackos only. Of course. The important issues are ones affecting both capital and the human race, where the "costs to whom?" question is meaningless. And of course costs that affect the human race affect capital. Capital doesn't and can't have "its own terms".

You're arguing as if capitalists are not human beings sharing the planet, as if capital magically floats above the rest of society, independent and self-sufficient, rather than being parasitic upon it. Who knows what the effects on agriculture would be? Dead or starving people don't buy cars & Ipads. They are clearly not properly accounting for this.

I claim I am presenting the common sense and logically supported view, agreed by most on all sides of the issue, while the claim of "difference between rationalities" is an extraordinary, unusual and implausible one.

In any case, for all of NK's "mush", no matter what "the solution" is, which need not even be keeping the carbon in the ground - maybe some geoengineering to put it back would work out better - who knows? No matter what, part of her solution, a green New Deal, 0% unemployment is going to make the solution work better - conceivably could be necessary for "the solution" to work at all. That is a matter of economics, not environmental science, and I hope we all agree on that non-mush.

Calgacus said...

Barkley Rosser:
An excellent comparison, but I think you have today's dramatis personae mixed up. For all the mush of Klein, Dorman & myself and many others, probably you too, I think we earth-centered socialists are the Soviet environmentalists, the 60s-70s electorate here.

Team Capital, everywhere, are the unresponsive commissars running the planned command economy called "market capitalism" in our democratic polities. They may very well be soon instructed again as to who is really in charge, too.

Mark Bahner said...

"(One way we can tell that existing policies are largely toothless is that their enactment had imperceptible effects on asset prices.)

Ummm...I doubt holders of stock in these bankrupted companies would agree:

1) Peabody Energy (largest U.S. domestic coal producer),
2) Arch Coal (second largest U.S. domestic producer), and
3) Alpha Natural Resources (fourth largest U.S. coal producer). said...


The problems of the coal companies in the US recently have been largely due to the decline in the price of its main competitor for producing electricity, natural gas. The key policy involved with that has been the US government allowing fracking, which has not been supported at all by the earth-centered socialist crowd, much less Naomi Klein.

Are you aware of this?

Mark Bahner said...

Yes, I'm very aware that the decline in coal company stocks is largely due to the U.S. government policy of allowing fracking, and that Naomi Klein and company don't support that policy.

I was responding to your comment that, "One way we can tell that existing policies are largely toothless is that their enactment had imperceptible effects on asset prices."

The U.S. government policy of allowing fracking has had a huge effect on coal company asset prices.

The U.S. government policy of allowing fracking--which Noami Klein and company don't support--has also allowed significant reductions in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. (And more importantly to human health, significant reductions in particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides emissions.)

Where I think we both agree is that I agree Naomi Klein is wrong when she says, "Capitalism, not human nature, is responsible for climate inaction." (Where we probably disagree is that I don't even agree that there has been "inaction"...witness the switch from coal to natural gas in the U.S.)

Mark Bahner said...

P.S. Oh, I see it was Peter Dorman's original post that stated:

"(One way we can tell that existing policies are largely toothless is that their enactment had imperceptible effects on asset prices.)"

So my apologies for any confusion created by responding to J.B. Rosser and referring to Peter Dorman's statement as "your comment."