The climate emergency requires us to reset our understanding of fiscal capacity. It is already, probably, too late.

In Tuesday’s fiscal statement, the Australian government made a lot of noise about dealing with the climate emergency that the nation faces but in terms of hard fiscal outlays or initiatives it did very little, deferring action again, while ‘the place burns’. The Climate Council assessment was that the government “still seems to be on a warm-up lap when it comes to investing in climate action” (Source) and recommended the nation moves from a “slow job” to a “sprint”. I have previously written about the myopic nature of neoliberalism. There are countless examples of governments penny pinching and then having to outlay dollars to fix the problem they create by the austerity. The climate emergency is of another scale again though. And penny pinching now will cause immeasurable damage to humanity. Food security will be threatened. Urban environments will become unliveable. Pandemics will increase if we don’t stop clearing and if we release viruses stored in permafrost. And all the rest that awaits us. Now is the time to reset our understanding of fiscal capacity. It is already, probably, too late.

Australia’s fiscal policy towards climate change

There were some outlays targetted at increasing the efficiency of our homes (which are typically very inefficient) including substituting electricity for gas energy use.

However, the nation is still transfixed on the creation of extensive margin housing developments that deliver massive profits to the property developers but leave places covered in roofs and concrete with the poorly designed and ‘cheaply built’ housing leaking energy at every corner.

While property matters are state and local government responsibilites, the federal government has the currency capacity to provide funding to ensure we move beyond the 6-star energy rating threshold for housing designs and stop the mindless laying of concrete everywhere.

The Government also announced relatively small investments in renewable hydrogen, which will not be sufficient to replace coal and gas any time soon.

Much more is needed on that front.

We will also get a new ‘National Net Zero Authority’ that sounds grand but we will see how much it can do given the lack of action generally in this space.

The Government failed to abandon the Fuel Tax Credit system which effectively subsidise the use of fossil fuels.

It also failed to take on the foreign-owned gas companies that have been making massive profits as they create false domestic shortages (because they are diverting local production to exports to take advantage of the war situation in the Ukraine).

While we should be fast-tracking investment in abandoning gas altogether in our homes and factories – and that is just a matter of the scale of outlays the Government is prepared to make – in the short-run (like now) we should be forcing the gas companies to make our gas available to the domestic market at low prices.

In short, the scale of the problem before us is massive and the fiscal strategy announced on Tuesday throws pennies at it.

The ECB sees the climate problem but is blinkered by its erroneous macroeconomic framework

Which brings me to an interesting ECB Occasional Paper (No 315) – The climate change challenge and fiscal instruments and policies in the EU (published April 20, 2023).

The researchers sought to examine the fiscal policy implications in terms of “climate change mitigation and adaptation”.

They argued that the rising incidence of “extreme weather events” has significant fiscal dimensions and challenge the current approaches to fiscal policy.

I couldn’t agree more although the ECB researchers fall back into mainstream macroeconomic fictions about ‘debt sustainability’ which have reduced our willingness to use the fiscal capacity available to government to make meaningful interventions in dealing with the climate emergency.

I note, though, that the focus of the ECB research is on the EU, where 20 of the 27 governments are using a foreign currency (the euro) and under the current monetary architecture have less fiscal space than say the nations that issue their own currency.

But that is just another reason why the Eurozone should be disbanded and more flexibility restored to the 20 nation states to deal with the challenges ahead.

The point here is that governments all around the world are locked into a dangerous and counterproductive circularity in their reasoning.

1. They voluntarily and artificially constrain the fiscal space available to them using all sorts of spurious arguments about not having enough money, about worrying that public debt will become unsustainable, about not wanting to ‘crowd out’ private investment through increasing their call on debt markets (savings), about not wanting to burden our future generations with higher taxes to pay off the debt, not wnating to put pressure on inflation, and all the rest of it.

2. As a result, they are not investing enough in climate mitigation.

3. As a result, the worsening environmental situation, causes weather havoc (floods, bushfires, landslides, starvation, etc), which then requires immediate fiscal responses, which drive up fiscal deficits and worsen the cost-of-living crisis.

4. As a result, we go back to 1. and the government starts cutting expenditure on welfare, employment, education, health etc – because the ‘deficits are too high’.

5. And on we go, as the climate problem worsens through lack of fiscal action.

The only way out of this circularity is to start by abandoning the logic in 1.

That is, recognising that the mainstream macroeconomics framework, which makes all these negative predictions about rising fiscal deficits, is erroneous and not fit for the task.

Once we understand how the currency actually works – along the lines of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) – then the fiscal space available to us opens up widely.

We will no longer accept the answers that politicians constrained by the mainstream logic prattle out as automatons.

We will then be asking different questions about why the government is not using its currency capacity to really attack the climate problem and we will much more clearly understand the counter-productive circularity that links fiscal policy with the climate emergency.

In part, that is what the ECB Paper is about.

The authors recognise that:

The fiscal climate policies currently in place in EU countries are not ambitious enough to reach the target of “net zero” emissions. First, there is a carbon price gap between the current policies and the price needed to substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Second, green investment is below the level required to fulfil the target.

That is the problem everywhere.

Governments have two broad tools to deal with the problem:

1. Fiscal policy – taxing and expenditure.

2. Rules-based regulation – or as the ECB puts it “command-and-control regulation, such as setting emissions standards”.

One of the problems that is characteristic of this neoliberal era is that governments (and even progressives) see the solutions through the lens of the ‘private market system’.

So they advocate policies that will tinker with prices in the hope that consumers will use less energy because the goods and services produced by fossil fuel-based products will become relatively more expensive.

This is the basis of emission trading schemes such as the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

In general, reliance on the private profit-based price mechanism will not get us to where we need to reach – neither in scale or time.

Systems like the EU ETS where ‘offsets’ are traded are basically failing to deliver and allow large corporations to continue polluting while the offset schemes undermine sustainable communities in poorer nations, among other maladies.

Corporations find ways to cheat the system and the vested interests are continually seeking to sequester activities from those that are included.

Rules-based approaches – such as telling the coal export industry that it has to close in 10 years or so (for example) – are the only reliable way to stop damaging activity.

The ECB paper documents the sort of economic impacts that are likely to accompany the worsening climate situation:

1. Reduced GDP growth – which means increased unemployment, lost incomes and increased poverty – under the current approach of governments.

2. Increased pressure on food supply and prices – as more land turns to desert as a result of the flora failing to keep biological pace with the warming.

3. “Extreme weather events may place a direct and indirect burden on public finances” – because of “relief measures, repairs and maintenance of infrastructure” and more.

If economic activity is compromised then the ECB argues that there will be an erosion of the “revenue base as a result of output loss or higher public expenditure on social payments owing to lower incomes.”

You can sense the ECB is moving the argument here into the conventional ‘we will run out of money’ territory.

Research indicates that in the event of “an increase of 3oC in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels, the EU would face annual GDP losses of at least €170 billion (around 1.4% of EU GDP)”.

The problem of the ECB approach is that they are locked in a mainstream mindset.

They consider a major issue relating to climate change is that it:

… can affect public debt sustainability through various transmission channels, including (1) through its impact on output and the productive capacity of the economy, which could translate into lower government revenue and/or the need for higher spending; (2) through the direct budgetary costs associated with climate change; (3) through the price channel; and (4) through interest rates.

They claim that the current debt sustainability framework can incorporate these impacts although quantifying the scale of the impacts “is subject to great uncertainty”.

While it is useful to seek an understanding and quantification of the nature and size of the various ways that fiscal policy will be challenged by climate deterioration, it is counterproductive to construct the problem as ‘pushing public debt too high’ and causing governments to run out of money and default on their debt.

This is an example of how an erroneous starting point – that the government is financially constrained – leads to a logic train that takes us down the path of inaction and destruction.

In the specific case of the Eurozone, it is true that the governments are financially constrained, which suggests that it is useful to focus on debt sustainability.

But the same counterproductive policy path will be followed in that case.

So for that monetary system, a better starting point is to recognise that in practical terms the ECB has been funding Member State deficits since the GFC via the various public bond-buying programs (QE) and can continue to do that forever (given its currency capacity), which means the focus should be on what fiscal outlays are necessary to deal with the climate challenge.

That sort of starting point might be anathema to the ideological wishes of the elites in Europe, which conspired to create the dysfunctional system they imposed on the Member States, but it is the only way they will be able to adequately deal with the climate emergency.

Sure enough, they could dissolve the EMU, which would be preferable.

But that is not likely to happen any time soon.

Given they cannot easily amend the Treaties, then the ‘work around’ that the ECB has used since the GFC should continue and the European Commission should maintain its position regarding the Excessive Deficit Mechanism, that is, maintain the relaxation of the fiscal rules that were suspended during the pandemic.

For countries that issue their own currency the question of debt sustainability is moot.

The starting point for those nations should be – what real resources will have to be garnered, moved in use, trained, etc – to deal with the climate emergency.

Then the scale of the fiscal intervention will be easier to understand.

Tax measures will be required to help divert resources from their current use.

But starting off by worrying about the scale of the public debt that will accompany the fiscal shifts will waylay necessary action.

And, the confronting nature of the climate emergency should be used to dispel the public ignorance about what public debt really is.

Just as we are going to have to shift towards a new ‘energy use’ paradigm, now is the appropriate time to stop issuing public debt altogether.

It is a hang over from past times when the monetary system was different and under a fiat currency system it becomes totally unnecessary.

It doesn’t provide the government with the funds necessary to execute its spending plans and only serves as an elaborate form of corporate welfare.

I discussed those issues in the following blog posts (among others):

1. Will we really pay higher interest rates? (April 8, 2009).

2. Will we really pay higher taxes? (April 7, 2009).

The ECB is worried about the impacts of climate change on “government borrowing costs” while knowing that they can always control borrowing costs within the EMU system.

So we get this on-going constrained thinking that says governments cannot act because of A even though they know the central bank effectively controls A.

Why don’t they just admit that?


If they did that then the whole ideological control over the Member States lapses and the citizens would then demand action from their own governments and the neoliberal Eurozone would collapse.

The question that will have to be faced in the emerging future is whether hanging on the neoliberal constraints that favour the elites are worth more than the damage that the climate emergency will create.

Both are existential matters.

In the first case, the position of the elites is threatened.

In the second, the well-being of everyone.

I know which one I choose to deal with.


I have previously written about the myopic nature of neoliberalism.

Thatcher’s austerity in Britain, for example, led to collapses of the water infrastructure in several cities, which ended up requiring much larger fiscal responses than were required to simply maintain the systems.

There are countless examples of governments penny pinching and then having to outlay dollars to fix the problem they create by the austerity.

The climate emergency is of another scale again though.

And penny pinching now will cause immeasurable damage to humanity.

Food security will be threatened.

Urban environments will become unliveable.

Pandemics will increase if we don’t stop clearing and if we release viruses stored in permafrost.

And all the rest that awaits us.

Now is the time to reset our understanding of fiscal capacity.

It is already, probably, too late.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2023 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. The EU is a bulwark of neoliberalism and it can’t be fixed.
    The EU will not invest in the green agenda, because they are stuck with the neoliberal dogma of markets dominance and private monopolies.
    And the markets/monopolies wont do anything either, because they demand that governments take all the risks.
    Risks should be read in a broad sense, as not only the eventuality of failure, but the demand for a certain threshold of return on investments – above the return that can be achieved by investment in the fossil fuel industry.
    Because green technologies are in the early stages of development, we can see where all this will lead: nowhere.
    There are two big fields of “green” potential: energy and transportation.
    Let me give you an example on green energy: we had in Portugal an investment paid by the state, in a cutting-edge technology of wave energy harvesting, ending up in the scrap yard, after spending a couple of years rusting in a harbour, because it didn’t work.
    Even as it was paid by the state, the private company failed, because nobody wants that sort of technology anymore.
    The money was spent and nothing came out of it.
    Transportation will be one of the biggest chalenges on any green agenda.
    But, western economies were built around the private car: everything depends on the car.
    And private cars will allways be a nonsense.
    And the nonsense keeps going, now with the electric fad.
    Public transportation is not even an option: just an obsolete means of transportation for those who don’t own a car and those “fools” that leave the car at home.
    And then we have air travel, fueled by one of the remaining industries of the deindustrialized west: tourism.
    What’s the solution for the air travel problem? None. We need tourists.
    Finally, we have water transportation.
    Let’s not focus on traveling, but on imports/exports.
    Billions of tons of stuff travel thousands of miles by ship every day.
    A big part of that stuff was programmed to stop working after a certain number of cycles (the legal waranty period in the EU, recently extended from 2 to 3 years, after consumer protests), and so the shipment of that stuff will continue ad infinitum.
    What’s the solution for water transportation? None. We need washing machines, cloths and basically eveything else.
    We could end up aggravating the climate change problem, if we leave the decisions to the fraudulent stooges of neoliberalism.

  2. Without getting sidetracked to the whys again, I’m curious what will be the impact on the no money argument if rearmament is to be taken seriously. I don’t think exceptionalism can just be copied to this side of the ocean, especially not when you’re clearly not sovereign, but I’m usually wrong.
    Either way, it’s likely we have to wait for a big disaster for gears to start moving at a serious pace with serious tools.

  3. I know that not enough people and leaders see the dire situation we are in with ACC.
    So, I know that almost nobody agrees with me that the *only* solution that has any chance of avoiding the collapse of civilization is WWII style rationing.
    . . As a sop to the wealthy I would have a 2 or 3 tier system. A 3-tier system might give 4 times more ration coupons to the super rich, twice as many to the rich, and the base number to everyone else.
    . . The Gov. would test homes for energy leaks and pay 100% to plug them. It would do the same for corps and factories, etc.
    . . I know that this would make money kind if without any use. Ration coupons would replace money. But, when the lives of 99% of the people are at stake nothing less seems enough. [Note; when our civilized societies collapse, only 1% of the population will survive, being rich will help rather little, when roving bands of looters can kill the rich. When their guards can turn on them. Roman saying, “And, who will guard the guards?”]
    . . Some doom sayers use peer reviewed papers as facts to argue, that the worst case is humanity goes extinct, and so being rich will *not* save anyone. I hope they are wrong. But, IMHO, the worst case is where we are headed, unless we start WWII style rationing, now; and even then, it is far from certain that the worst case can be avoided.

  4. One correction – it’s a large assumption that thawed out viruses locked in permafrost for millenia or more are a health threat to humans. There is no basis to assume that.

  5. Spending is what causes the destruction of the natural world.

    Spending can improve the efficiency with which we use energy, you say? Yes, it certainly can. Will that lead to more, or less, total energy use? (Re-read Jevons, then review the historical data on the effects of efficiency improvement.)

    Will reducing fossil fuel subsidies end the ecocide? The world is already running out of saprolite ore, and is turning to limonite for the nickel needed for “electrification.” Have you had a chance to investigate the environmental effects of high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL, the method used to extract nickel from limonite)? How much hexavalent chromium shall we expect in the groundwater plume around the mine site? Have you visited New Caledonia? How far out to sea shall we have to go to find a fish?

    And what of the social transformation of ancient cultures brought about by increased spending (more mining)? Is the destruction of ancient ways of life a good thing?

    Spending is not the answer. Spending is the problem.

  6. The Tasmanian protest against the stadium boondoggle is a hopeful sign. The only way we are going to stop rampant neoliberalism, corporatism and elite capitalism (by and for the elites only) is to protest vote and also just plain protest. The protest vote needs to become a permanent fixture, shifting mass support forever, away from the two neoliberal pro-rich, pro-oligarch, pro-corporate parties of Labor and LNP. Really, of course, they are Unlabor and Unliberal. They are stealing from the poor to give to the rich. This process is destroying the social fabric of Australia: destroying its people and its environment. The major parties must be stopped and removed from all power by democratic votes and legal protests. Our future depends on removing those thieving wreckers.

    We need to “reclaim the state” as Bill says and use its capacities for all the people not just for the rich and powerful. The major party / big business nexus is now wholly corrupt. We need to break that connection and get corporations and oligarchs out of the business of capturing and manipulating governments. We need to remove all their representatives (that’s all they are) and put our own grassroots reps in.

  7. IMHO, we need to vote them all out and start over.
    . . The 1st goal after that has got to be temporary 100% publicc financing of the elections of the reps.
    . . The 2nd goal has got to be to change the system to end 1st past the post single rep./district elections. If each district had about 7 reps. and voters could vote for as many as they wanted, then the vote counting machines would give fractional votes to who they voted for and total the fractional votes, and the top vote getters would become the reps. This lets minor parties have their voters vote for just 1 rep with all their votes, so they can get 1 seat per district much easier than winning 1 seat now.
    . . IMO, minor parties would need to raise money to campagn, until they reached some threshold, after which they get the same funding as major parties.
    . . IMO, this system will cost less than the current system because less money is wasted on “gifts” of public money to donors, and the people will get more choices in who to vote for.

  8. To create a better world, the old world must be deconstructed.

    “This paper conducts a review to a recent theory that was introduced by Christopher Dunn in 1998 and 2010. This theory suggests that the ancient Egyptians had the technology to generate and wirelessly transmit electrical energy using the Great Pyramids of Giza. Also, the paper makes a comparison between the principle of this old technology to what is being developed in the present time to achieve wireless and efficient transmission of the electric energy.” THE GIZA PYRAMIDS: A HISTORY OF WIRELESS ELECTRICITY TRANSMISSION, VALIDATED BY TODAY’S SCIENCE, TAMER YOUSSEF, KAHLED M. ELLEITHY, 28 MARCH 2014, UB SCHOLAR WORKS

    ‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.’ Ecclesiastes 1:9

    If there is one thing that the ancient world shows us, it is that they left enough evidence to prove to us they understood the connection between the mind, astronomy, and the Earth better than we generally believe they did. Even the Bible teaches us that their was a time when the people of the world were as one, achieving great things, but then they were forced to become confused, lost and scattered. We’re becoming one, achieving great things – are we perhaps reliving history…??

    “The God Almighty Grand Unification Theory (GAGUT) proposed by Oyibo to unify all known forces in nature and other possibly unknown force fields has remained controversial not just because of its ambitious claims…”
    >>”The single element theory by Prof. Gabriel Oyibo that states that “Hydrogen is the only element; other elements are compounds of Hydrogen” has been a very controversial issue. Though no real proof exists, speculations thus exists. This paper brings to light how hydrogen isotopes could be fused together in Nucleosynthesis to give every other element in the periodic table. “HYDROGEN AS THE ONLY ELEMENT, BAYO OLUSHOLA OMOYIOLA, NOVEMBER 2015, IOSR JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, RESEARCHGATE<<
    "…but also because of its unconventional mathematical approach. He has adopted the mathematical approach from his experience at solving the Navier Stokes equations in fluid mechanics using invariance of an arbitrary function under a group of conformal transformations. However, this esoteric approach resulted in a sound mathematical formulation for the modelling philosophy of GAGUT which is that since the fundamental characteristic of the universe is motion and motion can only be provided by force, then the universe could be viewed as a large force field"

    "… GAGUT … is a theorem, as such it is simply a rule or principle that can be proved
    mathematically and this is what Oyibo has done. This means there is no possibility of errors logically or geometrically in GAGUT. Therefore, any experiment which fails to verify the GAGUT equation is deemed to have been done incorrectly since GAGUT is a Theorem. A PEDAGOGICAL STUDY OF THE OYIBO’S GRAND UNIFICATION THEOREM WITH REALIZATION OF SOME STANDARD EQUATIONS, GODFREY E. AKPOJOTOR, MYRON W. ECHENIM, JUNE 2013, ARXIV:1307.1098 (PHYSICS), RESEARCHGATE

    There is a whole universe of disinformation, misinformation, conspiracy, and delusion, around/of Gabriel A Oyibo, however, the potential of his work is very interesting for transitioning us to reconnecting with our past; naturally there is a strong war-like resistance to accept his work (outside of supersonic flow) to be generally accepted, sound familiar…

    'With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.' JAMES 3:9 'Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain..' 1 CORINTHIANS 15:58

  9. “The starting point for those nations should be – what real resources will have to be garnered”
    This is the crux, little point in talking about the money. All of us here know that money represents state commissioned works and all debt is cancellable.

    The population increased from 2 to 4 billion 1900 -1980 (80 years) and 4 to 8 billion 1980 – 2023 (43 years). This graph matches the oil production for the same period.
    Energy from fossil fuels has been the reason for this massive unimaginable expansion of population, infrastructure, science and pollution.
    FF is 80% of the worlds energy use. Net Zero by 2050 would mean replacing 65% of FF with
    Nuclear 7.5%, Hydro 13%, Wind 39%, Solar 38%, Geothermal 0.75% & Biowaste 1.75% as envisaged by the International Energy Agency. This would be the ‘1st Generation’.
    2050 is unrealistic but building this amount of alternatives is within human capabilities by 2070 if there were enough resources (the crux) that is.

    This 1st Generation will require 4.5 billion tons of copper. (or 189 years of mining) The total copper mined since 4000BC is estimated at 700 million tons. Not possible.
    Lithium – 944 million tons. At current mining rates it would take 9,900 years.
    Vanadium – 680 million tons / 7,100 years.
    Germanium – 4 million tons / 29,000 years (yes 29k)
    And 6 more elements and rare earth metals that it would take vast amounts of FF to mine.
    Ref: Prof Simon Michaux

    Obviously the establishments plan and method for sustainable energy is seriously flawed but I am sure they know it. This is just an exercise in creating more production.
    Green energy will only be possible in a few rich countries before the resources are exhausted.
    There is no answer without a totally new technology or a 70% reduction in the standard of living or massive population reduction. I vote for the standard of living reduction but human history & Gaia point to Armageddon.

  10. There is a story on the ABC website today about South Korean investment in building a hydrogen plant in Australia to fuel the battery making industry back in Korea.
    Just like the natural gas industry, profits will go offshore and Australian citizens will lose out.

    If a foreign company believes it is economically viable to invest in such a plant in Australia how can it not be viable for the local government? If the injection of foreign borrowing into the Australian economy will not cause inflation how can similar local investment cause any, even if the money is created out of nothing? With no borrowing costs to repay the risk for the government must be less than that which is deemed acceptable by the Korean company, yet such a proposal would undoubtedly bring screams of horror from all sides of the political spectrum represented in Parliament House.

    We have everything we need here for our own battery industry, the energy, the raw materials and the available land and labour. Presumably the Australian government can employ all the same specialist contractors and expert engineers that a private company can to design and manage construction of exactly the same plant. All we lack is the political will to use the federal governments power to create the money required to train those unemployed people who lack the required skills and to then employ them to build and operate the infrastructure. Wholly owned by the people of Australia, for the benefit of the people of Australia.

    What am I missing here? Does anyone have a sensible explanation of why this cannot work?

  11. It is much later than we think as can be appreciated if paying attention to climate scientists such as Peter Kalmus and others of his ilk. MSM, neoclassical economists and politicians have trumpeted and propagandised (the narrative) net zero by 2050 as a solution. Far too many electors only hear “2050” (there’s plenty of time to act, isn’t there?) and zone out to carry on the way they always have, wilfully ignorant of the cascading crises that are coming at us.

    Anthropogenic global warming/heating is just one of the aspects that must be dealt with in the context of ecological overshoot, while being the initiator of so much system dynamics (tipping points, positive feedback, unknown unknowns) to be revealed. Our problem derives from too many people consuming too many resources all powered by fossil fuel as a work output multiplying energy source. The Limits to Growth report of 1972 remains good analysis and logic from then to today and tomorrow. Any economic system which excludes the ecology of our planet and energy (as mere externalities) from consideration has no place in humanity’s future and has been a major cause of the ecological damage and dilemnas we now face.

    Mainstream economists assert that technology in combination with capital and labour has lead to the rapid technological advances of today but ignore energy from their considerations. The technologies and population that are now extant could not and would not have arisen in just a couple of centuries without the masses of energy that humans have harnessed, regrettably via fossil fuels. As a result, humanity has added to waste generation beyond the bounds of our planet’s capacity to absorb without detriment to the environment upon which all rely for our existence. That is the price we are paying for what we call progress. And “progress” is a good thing, isn’t it? None so blind as those who will not see.

    Some names to consider when it comes to the state of play as between our current orthodox economics, what could be if those elected to make decisions affecting our lives acknowledged the realities of money and the consequent choices that such knowing opens up, all within the finite limits of our planet – Georgescu-Roegen, Herman Daly, William Rees, Steve Keen, Steven Hail, Kate Raworth, Simon Michaux, Jason Hickel and Nate Hagens being just a few.

    From being inquisitive of reality, it does appear, as the Professor says, that it is, probably, too late but the choice remains to do something or do nothing. Doing nothing hastens the worst while doing something leaves open the possibility of delay of the worst and maybe even a better result than those who understand can presently foresee.

  12. When I read Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” years ago I wondered, “how could those civilizations’ elites have been so stupid?”

    Looking around me now, I get it completely …

  13. @Ucumist
    Theoretically, we could do this in a controlled manner, but in reality, it will descend into chaos and turmoil.
    1950 we where 2.5 billion on this planet, by then a record number. With cheap energy like oil, which has a high energy density, we did add 5.5 billion in merely 70 years. Was that a smart move? This was a period when we knew more about how this world works than ever before.
    It has been an inter-glacial period for 10–12 thousand years with an extremely stable climate, a short period in a larger perspective. It will not last forever, no matter our experiment with CO2 finetuning the climate.

  14. @/lasse,

    The natural climate would be slipping toward another Ice Age now; however it changes very slowly. It takes thousands of years to do that. IMO, humanity could fine turn the climate given the rate of change.
    Prof. Britt has suggested that all during the last 10K years the natural climate has been moving toward the next Ice Age, and so it has been human interference that has been blocking that from happening. We were just incredibly lucky that we, mostly, kept adding just enough CO2 to the air to counteract the natural cycles.

  15. Just last week the Climate Council said we need to cut our use of cars. Do we ever consider how many useless trips we do to ‘go to the shops’ every week? Nah – it’s all too easy to pop down in the car. A solution… rules and regulations wise … or incentives wise … Make Australia Post profitable again by developing a dealer network to sell those neat electric delivery bikes they use to deliver our mail – the yellow ones with a screen over the top and a parcel carrier in the rear. Great for local trips, but probably limited to 10 Km of so. Would help to get back to a local economy that we need to dismantle neoliberalism. Let’s get radical – regulate the use of traditional cars and encourage small electric vehicles (but not scooters as they’re too dangerous).

  16. @Steve_American

    I’m surprised that Bill has allowed your perverse form of climate change denailism which amounts to “GHG emissions have been good for us”.

    this kind of assertion is the penultimate step in what I refer to sometimes as the Lomborg Shuffle of plausible denial used by those who would council we do nothing to mitigate GHG emissions. They started decades ago with “it isn’t happening” and as public attitudes broadly accepted the science they moved their rhetoric to “ok, it’s happening but it’s minor and ther really nothing we can effectively do about it”, to “ok it’s not always minor, but we’d be much better off spending rich nation money on drilling water wells in African countries than investing in GHG mitigation pathways”, to “ok it is quite serious but it still a long way off and technologies will save us” (presumably those same technologies that Lomborg and the hundred million dollar denial industry spend decade after decade rubbishing and dismissing as ineffective like wind, PV and energy efficient heat pumps, not the “laws of physics” challenged CCS and DAC technologies).

    If you think the consequences of global warming are benign or if you adopt that rhetorical position to avoid confronting the harsh truths of climate change prognosis this century then you are both ignorant of the scientific facts, and pathologically uncaring about the impacts that climate change is already having on places like Syria, sub-Saharan Africa, the Amazon, Antarctica and so on. Both to people and ecosystems facing collapse.

    There are a multitude of briefings, reports and other publications on freely available at Australia’s National Centre for Climate Restoration (Breakthrough) by David Spratt, Ian Dunlop, Philip Sutton et al to better inform yourself in the terrible situation humanity has made for ourselves and for countless species looking at a mass extinction even that has already begun. No doubt the human species will finds ways to survive in some numbers. But these societies will be unrecognizable from the civilizations on Earth we know today. There’s already enough historical emissions in the atmosphere to drive us to 1.5 ºC and given the failure to hit emissions reductions in any nation on Earth, peaking below 2.0 ºC is next to impossible (short of some aliens coming and removing the GHGs in our atmosphere). Even todays methane emissions alone are enough to drive us to 2.0 ºC. (SRM needs to be ethically deployed in trials immediately and James Hansen says if we don’t trial the this decade it will be too late by 2030 to deploy them at the scale required)

    James Hansen has suggested that if we hit 2.0 ºC there might be enough hysteresis and tipping points in the climate/ecological systems to then automatically take the temperature average up to 3.0 ºC even without further anthropocentric emissions.

    For anybody to suggest, let alone state publicly, that the avoidance of some tiny amount of inter-glacial cooling over the last 50 years (when most of the emissions have occurred) is beneficial to us in a way that is even five orders smaller in magnitude than the problems for civilization and ecosystems with global warming driven climate change for life on Earth as we know it is frankly absurd. Not to mention extremely dangerous if anybody gives such propaganda the time of day.

  17. @Alastair,
    You misunderstood my post. I have always been a believer that the Limits to Growth report was spot on since about 1972. So, I believed that climate change was going to be terrible as soon as I heard about it. I have made my views known here for a very long time, so Bill likely knows what I think. For example, for the last 2 years I’ve been calling for rationing as the only possible way to reduce emitting carbon dioxide fast enough to possibly have a chance of working fast enough.
    As a true believer on ACC, I am now a doomer. I have seen reports that the IPCC in 2018 said that we were in a period of *abrupt* climate heating that is about 10,000 times faster than any period in deep time, except when the asteroid hit the earth and killed the dinosaurs. And that the IPCC said in 2019 that climate heating was/is now *irreversible*.

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