Monday, September 15, 2014

Acting proud of what you should be ashamed of

City of Salem is proud of squandering millions of dollars on the airport, which is essentially a "for wealthy people only" city park, consuming millions and millions of city dollars over the years.

This is same city that has no weekend transit whatsoever and that keeps cutting the hours and the collection budget of the library and that insists that there's no money to operate branch libraries out where children can actually reach them.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

The Salem Municipal Airport recently completed a four-month,$3.3 million Airfield Electrical and Runway Safety Improvement Project. The project removed and replaced the entire airfield electrical system, several miles of underground conduit and cabling; replaced more than 600 runway and taxiway lighting fixtures, and more than 100 lighted runway and taxiway guidance signs. 

Naomi Klein: capitalism causes climate change

She's right, but the problem in locating the cause in capitalism rather than in humans is that it invites people to imagine that there is some other way that we could organize a world of 7 billion people, maybe heading for 9 billion (depending on when the collapse becomes dominant) that would not also cause climate disruption.

It's 11:59 p.m. In a world of 7+ billion, everything we do causes climate disruption scheduled for midnight.  If, in the few moments we have left before catastrophe, we squander our attention and energy on trying to first reorder capitalism so we can then try to save humanity as a whole, we are surely dooming ourselves.

Like all other religions, capitalism is a mixture of observed reality and experience mixed with a priori magical thinking that is completely divorced from reality, all in service of justifying the status quo of power and privilege on earth. (Indeed, because of its superior feedback mechanisms, capitalism actually is better than many other economic religions at delivering on its promised miracles. Although yes, it's also the least introspective of the religious systems, the one least likely to tolerate and learn from other religions or to allow for coexistence -- it's a jealous god, in other words.)

If we want to maximize our chances of preserving widespread modern human civilization, getting the prices right within capitalism (taxing bads, not goods; making producers and users of resources internalize all the environmental costs their actions create) will do far more for us than a new Hundred Years War over the right economic theology.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."


Naomi Klein, John Tarleton
September 12, 2014
The Indypendent
That global warming is man-made and poses a grave threat to our future is widely accepted by progressives. Yet, the most commonly proposed solutions emphasize either personal responsibility for a global emergency (buy energy-efficient light bulbs, purchase a Prius), or rely on market-based schemes like cap-and-trade. These responses are not only inadequate, says Naomi Klein, but represent a lost opportunity to confront climate change's root cause: capitalism.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, Klein's much-anticipated new book, is both surprisingly hopeful and deeply personal as she deftly weaves in her story of struggling to conceive her first child while researching the potential collapse of the natural world. In the book, Klein challenges everyone who cares about climate change to strive for a seemingly impossible redistribution of political and economic power. This, she argues, is both necessary and offers the prospect of living in a more just and humane society than the one we know today.

John Tarleton: When it comes to the climate crisis, capitalism is often the elephant in the room that goes unacknowledged. Yet you zero in on it, starting with the title of your book. Why?

Naomi Klein: I put the connection between capitalism and climate change up front because the fact that the life support systems of the planet are being destabilized is telling us that there is something fundamentally wrong with our economic system. What our economy needs to function in a capitalist system is continuous growth and continuous depletion of resources, including finite resources. What our planet needs in order to avoid catastrophic warming and other dangerous tipping points is for humans to contract our use of material resources.

The science of climate change has made this fundamental conflict blindingly obvious. By putting that conflict up front, it breaks a taboo. And sometimes when you break a taboo, there's sort of a relief in just saying it. And that's what I've found so far: This is something that people know. And it's giving permission to just name it. It's a good starting point, so now we can have a real discussion.

Why has that taboo of talking about capitalism and climate change in the same breath become so entrenched here in the United States?

I think it's primarily because capitalism is a religion in the United States. But also because the Left in the United States is extremely Keynesian...

Read the rest of the interview at The Indypendent

For more, see