Thursday, January 31, 2019

Richard Heinberg — Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization?

Mentions MMT positively as a tool.

The reality is that there is no proposal on the table articulated in the detail needed to address the issues. This requires comprehensive statement of a design problem and a design solution. The reason is that key pieces are missing so far owing to the huge scale involved and the size of the emergent challenges. Have the green new dealers faced up to this adequately? Most of what is being mentioned is the low hanging fruit, and that is not sufficient to the task.

As Richard Heinberg points out, this is not chiefly a funding issue that MMT can handle. MMT is a powerful tool, but not used alone. This is chiefly a resource issue, and there is no clear solution for avoiding some unpleasant choices involving tradeoffs. One of the necessary resources is knowledge. There is still much we don't know yet.

There is no path to maintaining the present level of civilization without a breakthrough in clean energy resources that scale. We don't yet know how to do this. So far, no one has had the temerity to lay this out for public debate. It's more "extend and pretend" aka "kicking the can down the road." 

It's going to require a Manhattan project of sorts, aimed at developing clean energy sources that scale quickly, or the world likely faces a culling. Militaries are already preparing for mass migrations as resources become scarce in some regions. This involves a resetting of objectives and priorities.

Elites don't want to deal with it, since it upsets their business model. Politicians don't want to deal with it because it is a hot potato. The public is not very interested in learning about it so far since everyone seems to have a gut feeling that it's going to be unpleasant and is avoiding it. The media doesn't want to deal with it, since it's not a story that sells. 

The result? Denial.

It looks like the crisis is going to have to get worse before denial is overcome by necessity, or else. 

A Green New Deal by all means, but let's be realistic about what is involved and what it will take. 

Post Carbon Institute
Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization?
Richard Heinberg | Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute

See also

WorldWatch Institute
Swift Boating, Stealth Budgeting, & Unitary Executives
James Hansen is an adjunct professor at the Columbia Univer­sity Earth Institute and director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York


Nebris said...

We need a nice little regional nuclear war, one just big enough to kick us into a 'Nuclear Autumn'. That's give us the breathing space to make the changes necessary.

Noah Way said...

Only if DC is hit during a joint session of congress.