I just read an informative article from Rolly Montpellier at BoomerWarrior.org. titled, Carbon Fee and Dividend. Its Time Has Come. Yeah its time has come, but thinking for the long term, I hope we see it go faster than we’ve seen it come. Of course, that’s only if we have replaced it with something much, much, better. I’ll get into that more later. First, we need to understand a few things about this market strategy and the system it stems from.
When I say the system, I am referring to free enterprise and its two main operators, self-interest and competition. These two functions of free enterprise are what built America and have since contributed to the growth of many nations in both the developed and developing worlds. It works like a charm, for a time at least. In America’s case it worked well for about 250 years. We became the most powerful nation in the world both economically and of course, militarily (funny how those two go together). Then long about the 1870’s, we began to see problems ranging from crime to corrupt governments and corporations, to pollution to wars.
You say, “Well hell, those have been around since the cave man days.” Yeah, I suppose so, but never have they actually threatened the existence of human life and many other life forms on our planet. The biggest threat here in the 21st century is climate change, which came right out of free enterprise. Now you’d say, “You can go straight to hell buddy, I got a comfortable home and a well educated family, don’t be knocking free enterprise around me, mister.” I understand that response. All in all free enterprise has been the most innovated system ever conceived for everything from medicine to military might (whoops, slipped that one in there again, sorry). Yeah I mean look around you, just look at that stuff out there: cars, boats, planes, artificial hearts, computers, radio, TV, telephones…all kinds of stuff … all kinds of stuff … stuff … and stuff.
Is this good? Sure it is, but only if you are a beneficiary of this system that brings this stuff about. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day; not gonna get a new heart on those wages. You say, “Hey dude, we are making gains on poverty, wake up man!” If you read that article I linked you’ll note that the gains on poverty are more about how many are not dying or how many more now make greater than $1.25 a day. But are they still poor? You bet they are. No, I’m not going to say this is good, better than nothing maybe, but good? No. The War on Poverty started in 1964. Fifty years of this fight and we’re gonna be happy that an African subsistence farmer can now buy seed from Monsanto? Don’t think so.
The reality of this is that when you throw in climate change, population growth and wars the future progress of our fight against poverty is going to fall by the wayside. If you look at what we call the improvement of humankind, you’ll see that it is quite artificial. That is because our means of gain have been artificial and they stem mostly from irrigation and chemical control of crops along with the utilization of cheap labor from starving countries. These gains are going to be reversing in just a few short decades.
From the National Ground Water Association:
- About 60% of groundwater withdrawn worldwide is used for agriculture; the rest is almost equally divided between the domestic and industrial sectors.
- In many nations, more than half of the groundwater withdrawnis for domestic water supplies and globally it provides 25% to 40% of the world’s drinking water.
And this from Science Daily:
“In recent decades, the rate at which humans worldwide are pumping dry the vast underground stores of water that billions depend on has more than doubled”
As for uses beyond water, see this from the Pesticide Action Network:
“In 1940, we produced 2.3 food calories for every 1 fossil fuel calorie used. By industrializing our food and farming systems, we now get 1 food calorie for every 10 fossil fuel calories used — a 23-fold reduction in efficiency.”
In the USA alone, without the use of agrochemicals. “U.S. food production would decline, many fruits and vegetables would be in short supply, and the price of food would rise. What’s more, America’s production of important fibers for clothing, such as cotton, would decrease as farmers would lose their harvests and livelihoods to crop pests and diseases”.
So when I say the improvement of mankind is artificial it appears I am not wrong. Why? Because groundwater is disappearing and according to the United Nations agrochemical use is beginning to show problematic trends. In short, we cannot artificially improve human life on earth forever because if you can’t feed and water the population, then there’s no need to get excited about everyone having access to cars, boats and planes let alone artificial hearts—see what I mean?
So if you only want to look at those who have benefited from free enterprise, then you are not going to be looking at a very large group of people and certainly not a group that could be called representative of the human species. But again, with no water and a planet full of doped up soil, well, you can’t eat your artificial heart. At some point in the near future this is all going to become apparent to these beneficiaries. And at that point they’re gonna go, “Free enterprise? Bullshit.”
Yeah OK let’s get down to it. I been saying free enterprise, let’s just call it the market in this segment, but it’s the same thing really. Yeah you see we’re out here, we climate activists, shitting our pants over renewables and carbon taxing and we’re damned determined that these are the answer to thwarting climate change, and maybe they will do just that and all by themselves no less. I rather doubt that, I’ll get into why in a minute. But let’s say they actually do fix the climate problem. How does life go forward from there?
Well since we could claim the market via carbon taxing fixed this deal, why couldn’t it fix the rest of our issues? Here’s why it can’t. If the market should actually save the day on climate change, for one we’d be so hyped by the success we’d claim the market to be God itself and therefore would dedicate our ways and means to it as never before. However, we’d soon find out a little numbers problem with applying market strategies to other issues like resources or population. That is because the market has this one little ditty it sings without ceasing, “I gotta grow, I gotta grow, I gotta grow…or I’ll die.”
Ever notice how the GDP is constantly tracked? That’s because if our growth rate does not average out to at least 3% a year we start to go into what we call recessions, and then if we keep that up enough years in a row we come to a thing called a depression. From there if it doesn’t get better we come to another thing called economic collapse and then we’re SOL. It’s the math folks, it’s the math. We been living by that math for nearly 300 years now, and guess what? We are collapsing. Not quickly mind you, but we are in definite decline and the only reason complete economic failure has not happened yet is because of our artificial use of water and chemicals that I addressed earlier. Yeah we haven’t run out of metals yet, we still have fossil fuels though falling, and we’ve gotten pretty innovative with synthetic materials, but again, you can’t eat or drink these. Without a completely new paradigm, food and water issues are going to collapse us. Look what’s happening in the middle east right now; their greatest issues are food and water.
It would seem that having ongoing reliance on the market system turns out to be very dangerous. You simply cannot grow economies forever. And the worst thing that can happen in growing them is that if the entire population of the planet found itself in the benefit category (will never happen), in no time we’d be out of not only food and water but materials to produce them as well. The planet does not have the resources to make us all middle class human beings and that is especially so when you throw in growing populations. I mean, isn’t that a big “dah”? So why do we keep trying to make it so?
The Market and Climate Change
I said earlier that I doubted climate change can be solved by clean energy and carbon taxing alone. That is because dealing with climate change is about much more than reducing carbon emissions. And that is because we already have enough carbon in the air to lock in some pretty hefty climate impacts, some of which we are seeing already and in no small matter. Therefore we have a basket full of adapting to do, and soon. Personally, I believe we have as much or more to accomplish concerning adaptation as we do switching to renewables.
Outside of adaptation realities, using the market to deal with carbon emissions has this huge contradiction in it. We can’t continue on the path of endless economic growth, the planet won’t allow it. Yet we still think that the market is the answer to reducing carbon emissions; therefore, we must still think we can grow economies forever. Look at what’s in the article that Rolly Montpelier wrote concerning our market economies and going the carbon tax route.
–National employment increases by 2.1 million jobs after 10 years, and 2.8 million after 20 years. This is more than a 1% increase in total US employment we don’t get without a carbon tax
–$70-$85 billion increase in GDP from 2020 on, with a cumulative increase in national GDP due to F&D of $1.375 trillion
–Size of monthly dividend for a family of 4 with two adults in 2025 = $288, and in 2035 = $396. Annually, this is $3,456 per family of 4 in 2025 ($1152 per capita–children get ½ dividend)
–Electricity prices peak in 2026, then start to decrease. Real incomes increase by more than $500 per person in 2025. This increase accounts for cost of living increases
–Maximum cost-of-living increase by 2035 is 1.7-2.5%, depending on region
–Biggest employment gains in healthcare, retail, and other services (excluding public administration). This is because people have more money in their pockets to spend, and these industries are labor-intensive, responding to increased consumer spending by creating more jobs
–Regional Gross Product is steady or rising in 8 of 9 regions
Why do you think that the powers that be push for market solutions? Because if they don’t go that route, then they’d have to instead go the way of community interest and cooperation and forgo self-interest and competition. Get it? This wish is not held only by conservative republicans, the developed world’s liberal camp including a good portion of its climate change advocates and activists are glued to that hope as well. It’s a huge threat to their ideologies and more so their bank accounts. They object strongly to the term sacrifice, they don’t want to hear it. And here’s the kicker, the majority of these folks are not only not poor, most of them are quite well off by global standards. Yet they are the ones primarily representing climate action. Do you see the picture here? The surest and ready to fight for continuing the free enterprise system of economics are those who are at or above lower middle class status in the developed world. Go ask somebody walking miles carrying vessels of water in Bangladesh, they’d say, “Free enterprise? The market? I don’t relate.”
Finally, using the market and carbon taxing won’t work, not to completion anyway. It’s processes are too slow due to the haggling of who gets what and who don’t. If we stick with this approach, it’ll be decades before it would have any impact on future climate disruption. By then it’s most likely to be too late. If any one of the mainstream scenarios for carbon taxing were implemented right now most would not yield any significant emissions reductions of CO2 for several decades. Emissions reductions start out slow in every case, the best call for 20 to 30 per cent by 2030, but that’s for current emissions, not concentrations of carbon that will be up there kicking our ass for hundreds of years. The proposals are much too weak. Put it this way, we not only need to reduce or basically eliminate emissions, we also need to sequester the existing concentrations to get to a stable climate of 350 ppm and we are at 400 ppm now. We ain’t even started to deal with this thing and we are concerned about growing economies? That’s nuts.
Well there is no instead just yet, not in the works anyway. So for now let’s do the damn carbon tax and hope for better judgment later and that is as long as we start this taxing immediately and heavy duty taxing at that. Otherwise, we’re sitting and staring in a blank haze.
I said there is nothing in the works but actually there is ‘one’. I’ve come across an organization that has just about all the right answers, it’s called The Climate Mobilization. I saw their mission and was floored to actually see what I been calling on for years, almost to the letter. It promotes taking a war time stance on climate change. It’s strong language and ask for sacrifice not just from government, but citizens as well, more so actually. Check it out and pledge your support, it’s really the only way to go at this point.
I don’t know people, we’re in a shit load of trouble, and we’re locked in debate over what to do and on top of that we have the debate as to whether there is any trouble at all…hard to believe. Ask yourself if you want your future generations to look back and say, “A damn carbon tax is all? What were they thinking, it sure wasn’t about us.”