“Global warming” or if you wish, “climate change” has become a contentious question, when it really shouldn’t be. There are but two risks, and all we need do is choose the one we prefer. Simple enough.
If you accept the idea that it is a scientific question, and that scientific questions are best answered by scientists, the consensus of scientists is that the earth is warming due to an increase in CO2, and humans are responsible for much of this increase.
True, scientific consensus isn’t always right. In fact, scientific progress relies on the consensus being proved wrong. Every scientific development proves a previous scientific belief wrong.
Yet, at any given time, time has shown we are wiser to rely on the scientific consensus rather than on business consensus, religious consensus, or political consensus. Businesses, religions, and politicians are highly partisan observers.
Consider the words of Donald Trump, noted non-scientist and the leader of the Republican party:
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
“This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice”
These statements are at odds with scientific consensus:
The increased volumes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released by the burning of fossil fuels, land clearing, agriculture, and other human activities, are believed to be the primary sources of the global warming that has occurred over the past 50 years.
Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate carrying out global warming research have recently predicted that average global temperatures could increase between 1.4 and 5.8 °C by the year 2100.
Changes resulting from global warming may include rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice caps, as well as an increase in occurrence and severity of storms and other severe weather events.
There are three fundamental questions regarding global warming:
- Is it real?
- Is it being caused by the burning of fossil fuels?
- Is it less harmful than efforts to prevent it?
1. Donald Trump and the Republican party notwithstanding, there is zero doubt the world is growing warmer.
For the first six months of the year, the Earth has had its ‘warmest half-year on record,’ according to NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center. The planet has also seen record Arctic Sea ice shrink.
2. While many hypotheses about the causes of global warming have been put forward, CO2 definitely wis a “greenhouse” gas and that the amount of this greenhouse gas in our atmosphere is growing.
During ice ages, CO2 levels were around 200 parts per million (ppm), and during the warmer interglacial periods, they hovered around 280 ppm (see fluctuations in the graph).
In 2013, CO2 levels surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history.
This recent relentless rise in CO2 shows a remarkably constant relationship with fossil-fuel burning, and can be well accounted for based on the simple premise that about 60 percent of fossil-fuel emissions stay in the air.
While the science seems clear, people believe what they want to believe, and the Trump/Republicans want you to believe:
–The world is not growing warmer,
–The increased warmth is not caused by fossil-burning,
—The cost to reduce fossil burning is not worth the benefits.
We bolded the final belief, because it is the real belief, and it is based on a very short-term view. The political right-wing, anti-science, pro-business view is that spending money today to reduce CO2 emissions is unprofitable.
And they are correct. Spending millions or billions of dollars this year to reduce CO2 emissions, will have minimal effect on global warming next year or perhaps for dozens of years.
Businesses are short-term efforts. Businesses are run by businessmen, who are far more interested in this quarter’s profits and their own personal compensation this year, than about the long-term effects of global warming on polar bears.
3. But even taking a longer view, say a few decades, is global warming less harmful than efforts to prevent it?
Rising temperatures caused by climate change may cost the world economy over $2 trillion in lost productivity by 2030 as hot weather makes it unbearable to work in some parts of the world, according to U.N. research published on Tuesday.
Across the globe, 43 countries will see a fall in their gross domestic product (GDP) due to reduced productivity, the majority of them in Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India and Bangladesh, researcher Tord Kjellstrom said.
In Southeast Asia alone, up to 20 percent of annual work hours may already be lost in jobs with exposure to extreme heat with the figures set to double by 2050 as the effects of climate change deepen.
Apparently, we are not “just” talking about polar bears, melting ice, rising seas or tropical diseases coming to the temperate zones. We are talking about lost business, today.
In discussing business, we always must return to risk/reward analysis. For any individual business, is the reward of CO2 reduction worth the spending risk?
The answer is “No.”
Any business that spends money to prevent global warming will see no return on that investment. Such an investment should be included in the “Charity” section of the balance sheet — an effort to “do the right thing” and not in anticipation of profits. While businesses may give to charity, the business purpose is good will.
From a short-term standpoint, most businesses would profit more from investments in marketing and product development than in greenhouse gas reduction.
The one entity that can and should take the long view on greenhouse gas reduction is a Monetarily Sovereign government — a government that has the unlimited capacity for financial risk, does not need profits, and whose investments in of themselves would stimulate its economy.
In evaluating risk, we should look at the risk of doing something vs. the risk of doing nothing.
For a Monetarily Sovereign nation, the primary risk of doing something (CO2 prevention and removal) is time: The research and development time necessary to create systems that do not produce CO2, or to invent CO2 storage systems — a minimal “risk.”
There will be many failures, which in the world of science are known as “learning.” The information gleaned from these efforts becomes part of the world’s scientific knowledge — the positive result of scientific failure.
But for a Monetarily Sovereign nation, the risk of doing nothing is monumental — at worst, the decline and end of life as we know it.
In summary, the “reward” from doing nothing is that Monetarily Sovereign nations will not stimulate their economies by adding their sovereign currency to their nation’s money supply, a dubious “reward” indeed.
The worst risk is that life on earth will become so stressed as to cause a massive extinction of species, impacting all life, including human life.
It is vital that Monetarily Sovereign governments absorb the costs of CO2 amelioration. If we want clean-running cars, clean electrical generation, clean heating and air conditioning, thriving ecologies, etc. governments should pay the R&D costs,rather than simply demanding that private industry pay.
Fundamentally, the global warming question boils down to our selecting which risk we prefer:
- The non-risk that a government will add dollars to its economy, thereby stimulating the economy, but failing to develop good solutions, or
- The real risk of doing nothing, and thus creating an unlivable world for our children and grandchildren.
Take your pick.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Ten Steps to Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich afford better health care than the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE AN ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA, AND/OR EVERY STATE, A PER CAPITA ECONOMIC BONUS (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012
Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONEFive reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefiting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE CORPORATE TAXES
Corporations themselves exist only as legalities. They don’t pay taxes or pay for anything else. They are dollar-tranferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the government (the later having no use for those dollars).
Any tax on corporations reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all corporate taxes come around and reappear as deductions from your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and corporate taxes would be an good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.