Another hurricane is bearing down on the east coast; it’s projected to make landfall in the Carolinas, and to wreak havoc–massive rainfall, flooding–in Virginia and inland.
There are people in Puerto Rico still without power, and the island is still dealing with the aftermath of their hurricane. For that matter, Houston hasn’t completely recovered from Hurricane Harvey.
Only the determinedly ignorant continue to insist that these and other disasters are unrelated to climate change. As we’ve been repeatedly warned by scientists (you know–those elitists who actually know stuff), hurricanes gain strength over the warmer oceans that climate change has produced. Meanwhile, our determinedly ignorant President continues to relax environmental rules; most recently, rules limiting methane emissions.
Vox recently considered the insanity of America’s refusal to face facts. Environmental measures are not only necessary for the planet, they would save money. A lot of money.
$26 trillion by 2030.
That, according to the most authoritative research to date, is the amount of money humanity could save through a global shift to sustainable development.
It’s a lot of money. Before you break your brain trying to imagine it, just pause to make a note that it’s a positive sum (uh, extremelypositive), not negative. Net savings, not costs.
That might come as a surprise since decades of conservative and fossil fuel propaganda have made it conventional wisdom that cleaning up our act is expensive — that it costs more than the status quo. It is the argument hauled out against every single pollution regulation.
As the article points out, that argument has always been overstated, but these days, it’s demonstrably, massively wrong. The costs of fossil fuel extraction and pollution have gotten higher and the costs of clean energy have plunged–making it far less expensive to do the right thing than to continue pandering to uber-wealthy oil and gas interests. (Coal is already effectively dead–killed not by “guvment” regulations, but by the market.)
Arguments about the higher costs of clean energy have been less than honest for quite some time,
But these days, it has gotten almost impossible to make sustainability look like a bad deal.
Two forces are acting as a pincer, making the decision more and more obvious.
First, the future damages of climate change are coming into clearer focus, and, more to the point, the damages have arrived, here in the present, in brutal fashion.
And second, the costs of sustainable technologies and practices (e.g., solar panels) have fallen at a dizzying rate in recent years, especially in the energy sector.
For all their numbers, models, and charts, it’s the one thing reports like this can never tell us: how to conjure leadership and political will — how to induce business and political leaders to cooperate for mutual long-term benefit in spite of short-term differences.
But that’s just the basic human moral project, isn’t it? It’s the central dilemma of our nature and our history: how to cooperate across tribal lines, how to construct systems that bind and benefit widening circles of people. If we knew how to accelerate that process, we’d probably be doing it! Or rather, we are accelerating the process, as best we can, but it remains frustratingly slow.
Residents and visitors are currently evacuating the Carolinas. As they drive out–bumper to bumper, according to friends caught up in this particular event–we and they might think seriously about a world in which such evacuations become routine, at least until rising sea levels take back those beaches we like to visit.