Who said that dealing with climate change was going to be easy?

Collards and solar panels – author photo

Effective climate action is not going to be easy. The difficulty is more than just a political problem of convincing people to take action. Actually taking action will “hurt the economy.”

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take action anyway! The alternative seems to be destruction of much of the biosphere, and that’s going to “hurt” a lot more. The climate movement needs to acknowledge this. We need to say: “truly effective climate action is going to hurt. We need to do it anyway.” Continue reading “Who said that dealing with climate change was going to be easy?”

What causes climate despair?

Of those surveyed, 3/8 believed they would be displaced by climate change.

Climate despair is real and complex. On Earth Day in 2022, Boulder activist Wynn Bruce set himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court. “Burnout is at an all-time high,” says Climate Mobilization. Climate scientist Michael Mann decries “doomism,” while admitting that he himself falls into it at times.

Climate change is a depressing topic to begin with. If you are better informed, you also realize how bad it really is. The result can be climate despair, along with its siblings and cousins that go by many names such as eco-anxiety, climate change helplessness, and doomism. Continue reading “What causes climate despair?”

Review of “Embracing Limits” by Stephen Kaufman

This review was recently published in the “CVA Newsletter.”

Embracing Limits cover

Keith Akers. Embracing Limits: A Radical and Necessary Approach to the Environment Crisis.

This very readable book is an important contribution to discussion of the environmental crisis. Many activists focus on specific campaigns, such as blocking the construction of an oil pipeline or divesting from oil companies. Akers looks at the larger picture. Continue reading “Review of “Embracing Limits” by Stephen Kaufman”

Lee Camp interview

Lee Camp, head writer and host of the national TV show Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp on RT America will be interviewing me on Thursday, April 13, at 12 noon Eastern time (= 9 am Pacific, 10 am Mountain, 11 am Central). The subject will be my forthcoming book, Embracing Limits: A Radical and Necessary Approach to the Environmental Crisis.

UPDATE April 13: the interview can now be seen on YouTube here.

Lee is also a standup comedian, former contributor to The Onion, and a former staff humor writer for the Huffington Post. His web series “Moment of Clarity” has been viewed by millions.

Embracing Limits cover

The interview will be broadcast live on YouTube. Anyone can watch for free at YouTube.com/BehindTheHeadlines. Exact link to watch is here.

It will also be posted online afterwards; I have posted the link recording above.

Embracing Limits—coming on Earth Day!

Embracing Limits cover

My new book, Embracing Limits, will be published on Earth Day this year — April 22, 2023. The ebook version is already available for preorder on Amazon here. The print version is not yet available to order; you’ll have to wait until April 22 for that. Here’s what’s on the back cover:

RADICAL MEASURES ARE NECESSARY

If you’ve ever wondered where we’re headed, and what a truly sustainable future might look like—this is the book for you.
– – – –
Today’s civilization is like a kid with a credit card, thinking the party will never end. Politically speaking, there are no adults in the room. Perhaps there never were. Continue readingEmbracing Limits—coming on Earth Day!”

Degrowth & Strategy — (review)

Degrowth & Strategy: How to Bring About Social-Ecological Transformation. Nathan Barlow, Livia Regen, Noémie Cadiou, Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Max Hollweg, Christina Plank, Merle Schulken and Verena Wolf, editors. MayFly Books, 2022. https://mayflybooks.org/.

Degrowth & Strategy is an impressive collection of essays by a variety of people on strategies to implement degrowth. (The price is right, too—get an e-copy for free on the publisher’s website!) Continue readingDegrowth & Strategy — (review)”

Herman Daly (1938 – 2022)

Credit: Nobel Peace Prize for Sustainable Development

Herman Daly passed away on October 28. He was one of the founders of the “ecological economics” school of thought. The big contribution of Herman Daly to our knowledge is his explanation of a simple idea: the economy is part of the environment, not vice versa.

To most non-economists, the idea that the human economy is part of our larger world (atmosphere, sun, soil, water, minerals, plants, animals, and people) is common sense. Of course the economy is part of the environment, how could it be otherwise? But sometimes, as Herman Daly remarked, it’s the simplest things that are hardest to understand. If you understand that the economy is part of the environment, then congratulations: you know more about the basis of economics than most economists, including the ones to whom our political leaders look for advice. Continue reading “Herman Daly (1938 – 2022)”

Debate: Degrowth or Green Growth?

To save the planet, should we seek more economic growth, but just make sure that it respects planetary boundaries (“green growth”)? Or is there no alternative except to decrease total economic activity (“degrowth”)? About two weeks ago there was a fascinating debate on this critical and controversial topic now available on YouTube, which I recommend to everyone interested in what it’s actually going to take to deal with climate change. This is certainly an all-star cast—Jason Hickel, Sam Fankhauser, and Kate Raworth are all committed environmentalists and knowledgeable economists.

What do you think? Please feel free to make comments below. I have a few random thoughts but this isn’t a comprehensive analysis of the debate.

Continue reading “Debate: Degrowth or Green Growth?”

Why divestiture?

One of the more interesting ideas for climate action is the idea of divesting in fossil fuels. If investing in fossil fuels stops or declines, fossil fuel industries will lose money and go out of business, and fewer fossil fuels will be burned. A number of groups and individuals have suggested this strategy.

This is actually an interesting idea because it represents something concrete that we can do. But how is this strategy supposed to work? If we are successful, what does this look like? Continue reading “Why divestiture?”

“Code red for humanity” — what does this even mean?

The High Park Wildfire burns on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland on June 10, 2012. U. S. Forest Service photo (public domain).

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, says that the latest IPCC report is “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.” Of course, this is not news for many of us. How should we react to this?

Climate is a well-discussed problem, with a variety of “climate action plans” and a variety of climate groups to choose from. You’d think that we’d have action by now! Why is climate, despite all the attention it has gotten, such a difficult subject? Continue reading ““Code red for humanity” — what does this even mean?”

Life After Fossil Fuels — review

Life After Fossil Fuels: A Reality Check on Alternative Energy. Alice J. Friedemann. Lecture Notes in Energy 81. Springer Nature Switzerland AG, 2021.

Most people assume that when fossil fuel use ends, we will probably be living with different types of renewable energy, mostly wind turbines and solar power. Allow Alice Friedemann (engineer, architect, and creator of EnergySkeptic.com), to puncture a few of your illusions.

I loved this book. Probably not everyone will be as nerdy about energy issues as I am, but for me it was just what the doctor ordered. Realistic, humorous, objective, this book is oddly hopeful in an apocalyptic sort of way. Alice Friedemann shows us that there is life after fossil fuels, even after the failure of all our dreams about alternative energy, and as industrial civilization crashes down around us. Continue readingLife After Fossil Fuels — review”

Less is More — review

Less is More. How Degrowth Will Save the World. Jason Hickel. Windmill Books, 2020.

Less is More is an important book that seeks to popularize the idea of economic “degrowth,” though it is somewhat flawed in significant details. Degrowth is a deliberate attempt to reduce the physical size of the economy — for example, we should prefer bicycles to cars, and plant foods to animal foods. Degrowth is widely discussed in Europe, where the idea originated. In America, the “heart” of the capitalist beast, it is still a relatively unknown idea.

Jason Hickel is right on his key point in this book. Our economy is already massively unsustainable. If human civilization is to have a future, we cannot continue with the growth economy. This should be the starting point of any discussion about the environment. Continue readingLess is More — review”

“Livestock and Climate Change” – part 4 (video)

Here are three concluding thoughts (strictly my own opinions) about the reception and impact of “Livestock and Climate Change,” by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang. It’s my opinion that the FAO is now dominated by the livestock industry, that “Livestock and Climate Change” represents only a minimum estimate of greenhouse gases due to livestock agriculture, and that we shouldn’t get distracted by the 51% figure.