Jun 27, 2018
While the U.S. announced intention to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement is bad news, it seems to have inspired a lot of carbon-reducing promises at other levels across the country. And that is good news. Dana and Dave lament the biggest hurdle in the path to a survivable climate – the fact that economic growth is the number one public policy goal around the world. In many cases it is the one thing policymakers won’t sacrifice in efforts to curb the growth of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
We seem to be putting all our eggs in the technology basket, hoping we can run an ever-growing economy on more and more solar, wind, geothermal and hydro power and use technology to shrink that mushrooming global economy’s carbon footprint. Some economists think we can do that. Many scientists do not. Ozzie Zehner, in his 2012 book Green Illusions, noted several studies that indicate we might need to change our ways beyond just switching power sources.
“Alternative energy is not a free ride, just a different ride...and there’s no reason to believe it will offset fossil fuel use in a society that has high levels of consumption and is growing exponentially.” – Ozzie Zehner
“…many of us, like Koningstein and Fork, have been asking the wrong questions of renewables. We’ve been demanding that they continue to power a growth-based consumer economy that is inherently unsustainable for a variety of reasons (the most obvious one being that we live on a small planet with finite resources). The fact that renewables can’t do that shouldn’t actually be surprising.” – Richard Heinberg
The most optimistic economists believe we can “decouple” economic activity from environmental impacts. A number of realities intrude into that daydream. For a more thorough exploration, see the links below.
The GrowthBusters team also wonders why few, if any, climate-focused environmental groups are pushing citizens to modify their own lives to shrink their carbon footprints. We also remind ourselves that we face limits to growth in many areas beyond our climate’s capacity as a carbon sink.
Plus, in the earth-shattering sustainability news department, did you know the cardboard core of your roll of toilet paper is recyclable? And, finally, Dana explains to Dave why she is a pescatarian.