Our August issue featured the story “Hokkaido: The Anti-Climate Summit” by Walden Bello of Foreign Policy in Focus, arguing that the G8 nations derailed meaningful efforts to address global climate change at the July summit in Japan. Bello protests that “like the United States and Japan, the European governments continue to hang on to the position that economic growth can be ‘decoupled’ from energy use. In other words, they think they can maintain current European consumption levels and only have to achieve the more efficient use of energy and replace oil with other energy sources.” Our July Exit Poll was: “Is it possible to meaningfully address global climate change while maintaining current levels of economic growth?” We received the following responses:
From Joe Wetmore of Autumn Leaves Used Books in Ithaca, NY:
It is not possible to maintain current levels of economic growth. It is simple math; you cannot have a permanent upward growth curve.
The is a limit to the number of people this earth can provide for; there is a limit to the number of resources that can be extracted. Since we are extracting resources as fast as we can, and a large part of the earth’s population is living in poverty, we probably need to cut back on our population. This means that we first and foremost, have to stop producing more people, especially in the “developed” countries.
World War 4 Report replies: Well, we’re glad you added “especially in the ‘developed’ countries.” We reject Malthusian approaches to the question. The problem is that capitalism—the system predicated on endless growth—is eating up the planet at an accelerating rate. The question of sheer human numbers is ancillary. And it is in the “graying” developed world where we use far more resources per capita—not the developing world, where birth rates are highest.
From Frank Connelly, somewhere in cyberspace:
Traditional notions of economic growth [are] misleading when proposing meaningful policies to address global climate change. Net economic welfare would be more in line when evaluating the advantages of addressing the issue.
In terms of economic growth, one could, for instance propose a simple economy where you own a house. The economy grows, when I build a bomb. And grows more when I provide a service by blowing up your house.
I am sure you can appreciate the ludicrous nature of evaluating everything economic in monetary terms.
I wish to thank you for your support and will be sure to light a candle for you and yours should I ever return to church.
World War 4 Report replies: Absolutely. Bechtel made a mint building Iraq’s oil infrastructure in the ’50s. Then Lockheed and Raytheon made a mint selling bombs to the Pentagon to destroy it in the ’90s. Now Bechtel is making another mint rebuilding it. All so we can spew more hydrocarbons into the atmosphere and accelerate global warming. The system works great—for Bechtel and Lockheed. Destroying the planet is what the system does.