Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Robert J. Samuelson, economic analyst for Newsweek and MSNBC posted this today at

You could be excused for thinking that we'll soon do something serious about global warming. Last Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—an international group of scientists—concluded that, to a 90 percent probability, human activity is warming the Earth. Earlier, Democratic congressional leaders made global warming legislation a top priority; and 10 big U.S. companies (including General Electric and DuPont) endorsed federal regulation. Strong action seems at hand.

Don't be fooled. The dirty secret about global warming is this: We have no solution. About 80 percent of the world's energy comes from fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), the main sources of man-made greenhouse gases. Energy use sustains economic growth, which—in all modern societies—buttresses political and social stability. Until we can replace fossil fuels or find practical ways to capture their emissions, governments will not sanction the deep energy cuts that would truly affect global warming.

Considering this reality, you should treat the pious exhortations to "do something" with skepticism, disbelief or contempt. These pronouncements are (take your pick) naive, self-interested, misinformed, stupid or dishonest. Politicians mainly want to be seen as reducing global warming. Companies want to polish their images and exploit markets created by new environmental regulations. As for editorialists and pundits, there's no explanation except superficiality or herd behavior.

I think the esteemed Mr. Samuelson is right. We're cooked. This challenge is above and beyond the experience and the lily-livered will of the world's six billion. This evening, Robert Reich said on the PRI radio show "Marketplace" that a carbon tax is out of the question because the Democrats have neither the "intestinal fortitude nor the votes" to make any headway, much less secure a progressive vote on such a beast. I think the Democrats know that making immediate and significant progress would make the battlecry "We're for a slew of new taxes" look like kindergarten. I don't think the Democrats have any interest in doing what it would really take to save us from the furnace. And what is that? Nothing less than: clamping down on capitalism, population and affluence/consumption across the board and around the globe. So far, merely and sadly, the simmering planet has been reduced to a hot potato everybody'd like to pass off to another industry, another country or future generation.

Welcome, children, to your world.


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