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?”

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”

In defense of drastic moves to curb CO2

This letter to the editor of The Denver Post appeared in today’s paper (February 5, 2021).

Re: “Moves on energy, climate need to be smart,” Jan. 31 letters

Flooding in the US Midwest, 2008. Don Becker, USGS (public domain).

In a recent letter to the editor, someone said that the President’s suspension of oil and gas leases had put him out of business and had failed to stop one CO2 molecule from being released. Good points! To be consistent, we need a “cap-auction-trade” system restricting both the production and consumption of oil. Continue reading “In defense of drastic moves to curb CO2”

Why isn’t “limits to growth” obvious? (video)

Why isn’t “limits to growth” obvious? We live on a finite planet, with finite resources. The economy depends on these resources. This shouldn’t be that complicated, but somehow it is. If we’re going to deal with the environmental crisis, and get to a vegan world, we need to figure out these questions.

This is my second video on “limits to growth and veganism,” based on the ideas for the talk I gave last fall on “Limits to growth and veganism” via Zoom. Please comment below on questions that you have or things that you’d like to hear more about.

Limits to growth and veganism (video)

What do we mean by “limits to growth”? Why should vegans care?

Last fall I gave a talk on “Limits to growth and veganism” via Zoom. I did make a recording, but the recording quality wasn’t very good, so I produced this YouTube video instead. This isn’t exactly what I said, but it’s closer to what I should have said. Let me know any questions below in the comments.  I haven’t yet covered all the topics I promised to cover, but there will be more such videos.