Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Global Warming And The Coming Collapse Of Labor Productivity

From Think Progress, courtesy of their facebook page:

Recent studies project a collapse in labor productivity from business-as-usual carbon emissions and warming — with a cost to society that may well exceed that of all other costs of climate change combined. And, as one expert reviewing recent studies put it, “national output in several [non-agricultural] industries seemed to decline with temperature in a nonlinear way, declining more rapidly at very high daily temperatures.”

More here.

This is something that's been bugging me for some years now when I step back and get a bit meta about the global warming "debate"--I put "debate" in quotes because the public discussion, for what it is, revolves around whether global warming exists, even though science has already proven that it does, or whether it's because of human generated carbon emissions, even though science has proven that to be the case, as well.  Anyway, I think it's pretty clear to everybody that combating global warming, if there's enough time left to do anything about it, requires some rather drastic rethinking about how we arrange the economy.  That's why so many conservatives dismiss the science on this, even though they accept the science on everything else: if global warming is real, it necessarily means the end of capitalism as we know it.  Apparently, the contemporary version of American capitalism is so gol durn precious to the right wing that mass denial is their only option.

Don't like the fact that Krypton is going to explode?  Ridicule and scoff at Jor-El until Krypton is safe.  It's worked in the comics for seventy five years; it should work just fine in reality.  Oh, wait.  It didn't work in the comics.  Krypton exploded in spite of the laughter and ridicule.  Well, maybe it'll work in real life, anyway.  After all, the planet Krypton is fiction.

Conservatives who love capitalism have opted to bury their heads in the sand.  And, of course, that's totally insane: if one REALLY loves capitalism, then one wants to do what needs to be done to see that it survives and is as healthy as possible.  Global warming, needless to say, represents a threat to capitalism that makes communism look like a stupid joke, and not in the way that conservatives think.  As the ongoing effects of global warming start to pile up, the ability to do business will increasingly suffer.  GDP will necessarily shrink.  The expanding pie will not only stop its expansion, but will instead become a much smaller pie.  The rising tide will not lift all the boats; it will destroy the harbor.  Sure, there will be some rich people left, but far fewer than there are now, and they will be using all their resources simply to keep the starving and suffering rabble outside their gated compounds.  In short, if we do nothing about global warming, then THERE WILL BE NO CAPITALISM.  Not today's version, not an augmented version aimed at low carbon emissions.  Nothing. 

I mean, there will be something.  But it will be as nothing compared to what we've got going today.

So that's what's been bugging me.  The whole conservative lockstep decision to go into denial mode on global warming has done more to threaten the economic system they hold next to cleanliness and godliness than anything in the entire history of humanity.  It seems to me that if conservatives really had their shit together, they would be out in front of this, far more than environmentalists or anybody else, if only to save capitalism and to make sure that whatever steps are taken to solve the problem don't unnecessarily impede the right to get rich and oppress workers.  Instead, they just cover their faces like five-year-olds and scream at the top of their lungs.

I really just don't get it.