In a previous post entitled ‘Free Market Blinders and the Coercion of Industrial-Corporate Capitalism‘, I posted arguments on why the free market ends up being anything but free. In the pursuit of profit, the shortest path taken includes usurping the instruments of the state. It also means all problems are forced into the ‘free market’ box and what comes out are phony solutions that only serve capitalism such as the scheme of carbon trading which has been described as “halfway between fantasy and fraud.”
Due to the lag time of its effects, climate change is a problem that the ‘free market’ cannot fix:
…This is the sort of problem that democracies and free markets are mostly incapable of solving. Politicians who have to come up for reelection every two to four years aren’t good at annoying business interests in order to solve problems that won’t even show up in a significant way for the rest of their lifetimes.
And even in its most ideal form, the logic of “free market solutions” is predicated on companies getting punished by angry consumers if they don’t do the right thing. There are all sorts of things wrong with this approach, of course: if a bunch of people die due to food poisoning, it’s not as if it’s always easy to identify where in the production chain the problem occurred, or which corporations to punish by not buying their product (not to mention the obvious fact that the deaths should have been stopped by regulation and oversight in the first place.) But in its most simplistic form it might work if the impact of corporate malfeasance is immediate.
But how does a “free market solution” work when it comes to carbon emissions? Whom do consumers punish? Whom do consumers reward? On what timescale? By the time the problem is advanced enough to penetrate consumer consciousness, it will have been far, far too late for the market to change organically.
And that’s, as I’ve said before, why climate change is such a threat to the conservative enterprise. It’s not just that big energy interests would be impacted. It’s that the entire conservative model of problem solving would be rendered obsolete if the realities of climate change were accepted in our public discourse.
So absent some sort of organizational metamorphosis for human societies, business interests will continue to divide nation states against one another as politicians in the major industrialized democracies dawdle and pretend the problem will go away.
CO2 levels continue to rise despite the sham carbon trading scheme (NOAA):
As you can see from the following video, the warming effects of the CO2 we have been pumping into the atmosphere over the last 130 years are becoming much more pronounced (this video is from NASA and only goes up to 2011).
In regards to the future stability of the human race, consider the conclusions from top climate scientists in a recent article of the highly regarded journal Nature:
The mean global temperature by 2070 (or a few decades earlier) will be higher than it ever has since the human species evolved.” [Human-induced climate change creates] “the potential to transform Earth rapidly and irreversibly into a state unknown in human experience.” “The net effect is that once a critical transition occurs, it is extremely difficult or even impossible for the system to return to its previous state.”
You see, the problem is that we are bringing on these changes to the climate and environment so rapidly that we, along with many other species, will NOT be able to adapt in time. Certainly our food supply will be in grave danger as weather patterns shift and droughts become more intense. The vast and expensive infrastructure we built to take advantage of the stable climate that we enjoyed in the past will no longer apply. Imagine a game of musical chairs with the entire global population scrambling for the last remaining seat. That’s the future in which a chaotic climate makes the access to dwindling resources even more tenuous. Arguing over cause and effect as we all go over the cliff is not an option, but that is the avenue we are taking.
The only hope is a radical and abrupt shift away from the use of all CO2 emitting energy, as referred to in this excerpt from an updated statement by the American Meteorological Society on global warming:
There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities. This scientific finding is based on a large and persuasive body of research. The observed warming will be irreversible for many years into the future, and even larger temperature increases will occur as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere. Avoiding this future warming will require a large and rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.
The results of industrial civilization’s binge on fossil fuels are happening in full Technicolor right before our eyes: