You are here
Less of What We Don't Need
Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.
Twitter erupted in a heated debate about global poverty. The question was whether it’s better to measure our progress against poverty (or lack thereof) by looking at the total number of people in poverty or by looking at poverty as a proportion of the world’s population.
"A world buzzing with hundreds of millions of Teslas (or worse, eEscalades), made with materials rapaciously extracted without the consent of local communities, manufactured under a repressive labor regime in polluting factories — in other words, a world not unlike our own but powered by wind and sun — is not an inevitability."
To decarbonize we must degrow, decommodify, and democratize the economy
This essay reflects on these questions, firstly by considering how fossil fuel use has grown to unsustainable levels through history; then, by highlighting the disastrous failure of the international climate talks process; and, finally, by arguing that a transition away from fossil fuels means changing not only the technological systems that use them, but also the social and economic systems in which they are embedded.
In Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, Bloomberg pompously claimed, “We’re closing the coal-fired power plants. If we could enforce some of the rules on fracking so that they don’t release methane into the air and into the water, you’ll make a big difference. But we’re not going to get rid of fracking for a while. And we, incidentally not just natural gas. You frack oil, as well. It is a technique, and when it’s done poorly, like they’re doing in too many places where the methane gets out into the air, it is very damaging. But it’s a transition fuel…”
There’s a reason the mumbling Bloomberg has committed a portion of his fortune to fight coal while arguing that fracked gas is a “transition fuel” — he has massive investments in natural gas. A mysterious money management group called Willett Advisors, that handles Bloomberg’s riches, states they “are natural gas bulls” and “we invest a lot in the energy sector.” He’s banking on fracked gas and not renewable energy to power the US economy into the future.
I got called by a military recruiter when I was a senior in high school. This was ’86 or ’87, and I wasn’t surprised; other guys I knew had been contacted too, but even so, I hadn’t put any thought into how to respond ahead of time. Nonetheless, when the moment came I was unequivocal. I told the man I had no interest whatsoever in going overseas to kill people, no matter what. He was a bit taken aback–this was Nebraska, after all–but he pushed on.
The Federation of American Scientists revealed in late January that the U.S. Navy had deployed for the first time a submarine armed with a low-yield Trident nuclear warhead. The USS Tennessee deployed from Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia in late 2019. The W76-2 warhead, which is facing criticism at home and abroad, is estimated to have about a third of the explosive power of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) called the news “an alarming development that heightens the risk of nuclear war.”
It seems like everybody is waiting for government to take the lead in stopping climate breakdown. Government has the power to act on that scale. Government is being slow to act, possibly because it’s in the pockets of oil and gas interests. Politicians love development, which means money, jobs, votes — and fossil fuels.
... averting climate change is not going stop the global collapse of the planet as we know it. Don’t get me wrong. Climate change is a global emergency and will cause tremendous damage, and, in fact, already has for many. But the thing is, massive, global-scale destruction has been going on for a long time even before climate change. ...addressing climate change using the values and viewpoints of this Western culture will only exacerbate the problem. The disease powered by solar fields is still the same disease that is powered by coal.