Monday, November 05, 2012

Time to Re-boot Bill

"If you put a price on carbon, through a direct tax or other methods, it would enlist markets in the fight against global warming." Bill Mc Kibben Poor Bill has ended up as the de-facto spokesperson for the US climate movement, a position he probably does not relish. It has been a while since I picked on him, but in that debate about whether some strategies do more harm than good, his is a case in point. He writes good books and speaks all over the country and has built a formidable organization. He and his supporters surrounded the White House and forced the Keystone XL issue on the Democrats. Put the issue on the front page for a few moments. All good. But in his effort to appeal to that amorphous mainstream citizen, he has to describe "change" within the parameters of liberal democratic capitalism. Regulate the corporations, legislate the rules, elect the progressives, end the subsidies, etc.. In other words, use the same strategies which haven't worked since he wrote his first book, only do them harder, better, whatever. He still says: put a "price on carbon". That's the problem Bill, there already IS a price on carbon. But it's a tragic joke, a random, arbitrary number created by the very market you wish to "enlist". Why don't you come up with a number, Bill. Now explain how you arrived at it. Cite the studies, where so many have tried to come up with those damage costs- spread far and wide and endlessly into the future- and tell us what the externalities are. Now show "the leaders" this wide range of estimates and wait for them to pick one. But be prepared to wait another decade. To his credit, he is not putting all his efforts into a Global Climate Treaty any longer. He now wants to start a boycott and divestment movement against Big Energy. I just hope he comes to see that rather than "enlist" energy markets, he should be de-bunking them as the ideological constructions and irrational scams which they are.

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