Special coverage in the Trump Era

Dark Money author Jane Mayer on The Dangers of President Pence, New Yorker, Oct. 23 issue on-line

"Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America" see: our site, and George Monbiot's essay on this key book by historian Nancy MacLean.

Full interview with The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer March 29, 2017, Democracy Now! about her article, "The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer Exploited America’s Populist Insurgency."

Democracy Now! Special Broadcast from the Women's March on Washington

The Economics of Happiness -- new version

Local Futures offers a free, shortened version of its award-winning documentary film The Economics of Happiness. This 19-minute abridged version "brings us voices of hope of in a time of crisis." www.localfutures.org.

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July 27, 2017

Your Personal Consumption Choices Can’t Save the Planet: We Have to Confront Capitalism

"To stave off disaster, we must transform the economic system driving climate change," writes Kate Aronoff.

Common Dreams, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, by Kate Aronoff

In her article on the controversy around a recent New York magazine cover story on climate change in which David Wallace-Wells, "collating several academic papers and interviews with climate scientists—meticulously lays out the possibility of melting ice caps releasing literal plagues, our air becoming unbreathable and geopolitics devolving into endless war," Kate Aronoff takes a critical look at "mainstream gravitation toward individual solutions" to climate change.

In her analysis she writes, mentioning David Robert's article at Vox.com: Did that New York magazine climate story freak you out? Good.

..."Consumption choices do matter. They just happen to matter a lot more if you’re in the one percent, and especially the top 0.01 percent. “If some earnest Gen X climate activist cancels the family vacation to see the grandparents over carbon guilt, the Earth is not going to give a damn,” Roberts writes, “What will matter is if a business executive decides to fly back and forth from New York to London once a week instead of twice, or once a month instead of weekly. And it will only matter if all the wealthy travelers make the same decision, consistently, over time.”

“The obvious and most direct approach to addressing the role of individual choices in climate change is to tax the consumptive choices of the wealthy,” he adds. “For now, and for the foreseeable future, carbon emissions rise with wealth. Redistributing wealth down the income scale…reduces lifestyle emissions.” 

If you’re not rich, Roberts concludes, the best thing you can do for the planet is get together with other people and try and change policy and elect people to office who aren’t in bed with the fossil fuel industry, among other things. Thinking about lifestyle choices really only makes sense, then, if you add an understanding of class politics into the mix.

To really get this, it’s important to state just how skewed responsibility for the climate crisis—like most other societal crises—really is. A Carbon Majors Report recently found that just 100 companies have been responsible for some 71 percent of global emissions since 1988. 71 percent. 

This stands at odds with the story we normally hear about climate change. Warming is a civilization-wide problem, we’re told, and the result of a public obsession with consumption: a collective failure. The remedies floated to this failure are individual, whether recycling more or driving and procreating less. A globalized version of this tale—that’s gained currency among many on the green left—envisions a massive scale-down in our collective production and consumption called “de-growth,” whereby the sacrifice is shared but so too are the gains of a more sustainable ecosystem: austerity for the common good. 

As the Carbon Majors Report underscores, though, we arrived at the place we are now thanks to the actions of a small and incredibly wealthy substratum of the population and their control over the economy’s modes of production, which define how we live and work and consume. Many people worldwide and in our own country simply don’t consume enough for their lifestyle choices to matter. As climate scientist Kevin Anderson puts it, “By the time the poor have sufficient income to use lots of energy, the transition to a low-carbon energy system will need to have been completed.” That we’re all somehow failing to do our part is a convenient narrative to the small minority of people who are actually responsible for fueling this crisis. Climate change is already hitting the people who’ve contributed least to it, and whose living standards and levels of consumption should increase rather than decrease." ...
Read full article here

For further reading:

See the annotated version of the David Wallace-Wells New York Magazine article, and:

The 10-Book ‘Uninhabitable Earth’ Reading List

By David Wallace-Wells


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