Capitalism Trumps Climate
by Lorna Salzman
How many of you actually think that there are sincere and meaningful efforts being made to mitigate climate change? If your answer is yes, then what proof do you offer? What groups, individuals, policies or legislation do you think are making a difference or will in the near future? Why do you think so?
I will wager that more than half of you will answer yes to the first question and will then mention Bill McKibben and 350.org, and perhaps a few other obscure groups here or abroad that you have read about on the internet or in the news. But you will not be able to demonstrate exactly what these groups or individuals have accomplished, what they are doing right now, or what they say they will do in the future. That's because almost none of them actually have real action plans that they believe in and which they are promoting.
The ugly truth is that the most influential and prominent of these groups are planning to do EXACTLY NOTHING. Do you think this is hyperbole? You won't if you will take the time to find out who funds these groups and what their strategies are. I say "strategies" plural but that is incorrect.
There is only one strategy and that is to SAVE CAPITALISM. And they don't even try to hide this or deny it. Let me say it again: these groups and their hidden funders and sponsors have only one objective: to use the climate change issue as a way of preserving markets and, most important, creating NEW ones. In other words, develop new ways of making profits that do not interfere with the present system or restrict economic growth.
You probably think: well, they mean renewable energy so what's wrong with that? But if that were really the case, why was there such a massive campaign in this country not to promote renewable energy but to promote cap and trade? Why have they refused to support the things that would make renewable energy viable such as ending fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks and taxing CO2? The cap and trade campaign was dreamed up by investment houses, brokers, financiers, and the coal industry, with a few big enviros alongside, to accomplish several things:
--delay as long as possible the shutdown of coal burning power plants;
--maintain the oil and natural gas-based economy as long and as cheaply as possible;
--push off indefinitely (to well past the year 2030) any serious efforts at reducing energy consumption through efficiency or other measures;
--avoid at all costs a carbon tax or anything that would increase energy costs and thereby stifle growth;
--keep existing federal subsidies and tax breaks for the fossil and nuclear industry.
This is by default our present national energy policy and no one, including 350.org/1Sky, has proposed anything different: no one in government, no one in industry, and no one in the top echelons of the environmental community, even though one of them, Gus Speth, knows full well what needs to be done.
None of this should be surprising, at least to those who have been paying attention or who have not bought hook, line and sinker the empty words of people like Bill McKibben, who is good at whipping crowds into a green frenzy but incapable of telling them what they should do. There is NO ENERGY AGENDA of any merit being pushed ANYWHERE, and anyone who thinks it is only the Republicans to blame is inhaling from the Big Bong. There is bipartisan and universal agreement that the first order of business is Business and the earth be damned. 350.org even sent out shameless mailings to business to curry favor with them and suck them in to believing that nothing drastic or costly need be done and that only a few nips and tucks at the margins were needed.
We are therefore being lied to, big time, by those who actually believe that climate change can be mitigated with minimal effort and cost, and that there need be no hardship or sacrifice at all. This is the latest in Comfort Food for the masses and reassurance for industry and the financial community. The only problem is that it comes with no guarantee that climate catastrophe will NOT happen. It is no better than the reassurances of the nuclear industry that a Fukushima-size disaster could never happen in this country. It is the ultimate in Happy Faces, in wishful thinking, and in calming the public's fears.
But it is leading us over the cliff.
In case you think this is exaggeration, here is a promotional piece for Hunter Lovins, Amory Lovin's ex-wife and an energy consultant in her own right.
FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX PRESENTS
THE CLIMATE CAPITALISM TELEFORUM—A LIVE, NATIONAL, INTERACTIVE DISCUSSION OF CAPITALISM IN THE AGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
WITH L. HUNTER LOVINS, FOUNDER OF NATURAL CAPITALISM SOLUTIONS, A TIME MAGAZINE HERO OF THE PLANET, AND NEWSWEEK'S "GREEN BUSINESS ICON"
Hardcover • 400 pp. • $27.95
CAPITALISM IN THE AGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
“A must-read for entrepreneurs, investors, industry experts, and corporations interested in capitalizing on the greatest wealth-creation opportunity of our lifetime: solving climate change.” —Jigar Shah, founder, SunEdison, and CEO, Carbon War Room
Whether you believe in climate change or not, it doesn’t matter. If your goal is profitability, you’ll act as if you do. As CLIMATE CAPITALISM shows, climate-protection efforts have failed because we have ignored the most powerful tool for unleashing the low-energy future: the business case. In their book, L. Hunter Lovins, president of Natural Capitalism Solutions and coauthor of Natural Capitalism, and Boyd Cohen, CEO of CO2IMPACT, draw on case studies of international corporations, small businesses, NGOs, and municipalities to demonstrate that efficiency and renewable energy equal the path to greater profitability and enhanced economic prosperity. Through addressing business opportunities across a range of sectors, including energy, buildings, transportation, and agriculture technologies, Lovins and Cohen powerfully address the future of capitalism in a carbon-constrained world and prove that climate change policy will promote, not hinder, the growth of our global economy.
Corporate executives, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, and concerned citizens will all find CLIMATE CAPITALISM a feisty, opportunity-rich read—one that offers a compelling road map for a new energy economy.
“A highly persuasive demonstration of how profitable economic choices can take us a long way toward dealing with climate disruption, the misguided aspects of our agriculture, oil’s strategically catastrophic monopoly over transportation, the poverty of the bottom billion, and much else. Creative and deftly crafted.”—Jim Woolsey, Former Director of CIA, Booz Allen Hamilton
“L. Hunter Lovins' latest book should be on every CEO’s reading list and required in every corporate board room.”—Bill Becker, Executive Director, Presidential Climate Action Project
“One of the fastest growing areas in business schools today is entrepreneurship, and more specifically social entrepreneurship . . . . Climate Capitalism provides both direction and inspiration for these students who do not accept the artificial tradeoff between doing well and doing good.”—R. Bruce Hutton, dean emeritus, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver
“Nobody does a better job of laying out the business case for pursuing a cleaner, more profitable form of capitalism than Hunter Lovins.”—Andrew Winston, founder, Winston Eco-Strategies and author of Green Recovery
Note the claim that the "best case" for a low-energy future is "the business case", stressing "the future of capitalism in a carbon-constrained world" followed by the promise that the global economy will GROW, not contract. Well, one might believe in this growth but what they don't consider is the likelihood of a complete collapse of the global economy. If you start from a collapse, i.e. from nothing, then anything after that can be considered growth.
"Profitable economic choices" is the reward held out for not taking drastic action now in reducing energy use and mandating stringent energy efficiency measures....both of which would of course constrain growth. Having your cake and eating it too....
I do not doubt that Hunter Lovins and her associates truly believe and want a renewable energy economy. What I do doubt is whether they have read up on the science of climate change and the narrowing window of time left to us to get our house in order. Anyone who has read this knows full well that many scientists believe we are already past several tipping points and that we will be forced into adaptation and defensive measures. Where money will be found for these gigantic projects, "earth works", to protect urban infrastructure is by no means clear. Will the budget cutters change their minds and dole out billions of dollars to the states to protect water supplies, power grids, sewage systems and transportation