Here are two comments regarding what we must do regarding the threat to our species’ continued existence being posed currently by global warming; here’s the first one:

The primary reason for this headlong fling toward disaster is that our economic system is based on perpetual growth—on the need to consume the earth at an ever-increasing rate. Our world is dominated by transnational corporations, which now account for sixty-nine of the world’s largest hundred economies.

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It’s not Deep Adaptation that we need right now—it’s Deep Transformation.  The current dire predicament we’re in screams something loudly and clearly to anyone who’s listening:  If we’re to retain any semblance of a healthy planet by the latter part of this century, we have to change the foundations of our civilization.  We need to move from one that is wealth-based to one that is life-based—a new type of society built on life-affirming principles, often described as an Ecological Civilization.  We need a global system that devolves power back to the people; that reins in the excesses of global corporations and government corruption; that replaces the insanity of infinite economic growth with a just transition toward a stable, equitable, steady-state economy optimizing human and natural flourishing

And the second one:

So focused on serving the needs of the wealthy elites, most governments, political leaders and policy-makers are stuck in the certainty that “there is no alternative” and their plans lie at the core of that belief.  The proposals support “business as usual” with a coat of greenwash and a nip and tuck here and there.  They fail to recognize that economic growth is in direct conflict with decarbonization, slowing down global warming or redistributing wealth, and that we must eliminate or vastly reduce certain activities altogether.

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Despite the heroic efforts of everyday people working at localized levels, there are three hard truths we must face.  The first is that our governments and political leaders are a major barrier.  They may be pathetic but they hold the levers of power, albeit on behalf of the elites.  The second hard truth is that efforts at localized levels are insufficient. Solving the climate crisis will necessitate the end of capitalism and that necessitates action on a global scale through global coordination, planning and regulation.  Both of these truths, therefore, make it critical for our governments and leaders to catch up and start working for and with us.

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Of course, none of this is to suggest that the job of transitioning to a post-capitalist, post-carbon world should happen overnight, or by taking a slash-and-burn approach that rebuilds everything we know from ground zero.  That might be tempting, but it would be traumatic and even short-sighted.  Actually, it leads us to the third hard truth:  Completely replacing capitalism with the more participatory socialist model alluded to in this article will take more time than we actually have to address global warming.  That leaves us with no choice but to work with the materials available to us, however inadequate, and to see the transition for what a transition is, a “process or period of changing from one state or condition to another.”

I am able to extract the following “solutions” from the above five passages:

  1. We need “Deep Transformation”:  We need to “change the foundations of our civilization.” That would involve:

a) Moving “from one that is wealth-based to one that is life-based.”

b) Devolves “power back to the people.”

c) Reins in “the excesses of global corporations and government corruption.”

d) Replaces “the insanity of infinite economic growth with a just transition toward a stable, equitable, steady-state economy optimizing human and natural flourishing.”

2. “Solving the climate crisis will necessitate the end of capitalism;” this will not, however, “happen overnight.”

The question here, of course, is:  Do these proposals pass the “smell test.”[1]  Do they have adequacy?[2]  My criteria for making that judgment are:

 

  1. Are the proposals directed—clearly and unambiguously—at the problem at hand (the occurrence of global warming, in this case)?
  2. Are they specific regarding what is to be done?
  3. Are they specific regarding the “actor(s)” that is to engage in the necessary actions?
  4. Is what is being proposed implementable?   “Implementable” here does not mean that the proposals will, in fact, be implemented; it means, rather, that it’s plausible that the proposals could be implemented.

I have just watched and listened to the Memorial Ceremony, at the U. S. Capitol, for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the “notorious RBG!),[3] and can now continue:

What I do next, then, is examine each of the two proposals identified above, each from the standpoint of their conformance with the four criteria stated above.

Proposal One

Clarity

What’s is proposed is a “Deep Transformation,” that involves at least four “specific” changes, but none of them is stated with much clarity.

Specificity Regarding What

Kinds of change (e. g., giving “power back to the people”) are identified, but the specific nature of change is left unclear.

Specificity Regarding Actor(s)

Seemingly, our national government, led by the President, would be the “actor” that would specify the change(s) to be made, and then implement it; however, this is left unsaid.

Implementability

Given that ambiguities surrounding this “proposal,” it’s impossible to offer any definitive comments on implementability!

Proposal Two

Clarity

The proposal here is to abandon capitalismOne definition of “capitalism” is this one:

Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.[1][2][3][4]   Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, a price system, private property and the recognition of property rights, voluntary exchange and wage labor.[5][6]   In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in capital and financial markets whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.[7]

The problem with that definition, though, is that it describes an “ideal” economy, not a real-world one.  I assume that the author(s) of Proposal Two was making reference to the actual economy here in the United States, and was giving it the label “capitalist.”  As a matter of fact, however, ours is a “mixed” economy.  The author(s) does not seem to recognize that fact, however!

Specificity Regarding What

Given the fact that our economy is a “mixed”one, the relevant question here is:  What specific features of our economy do you wish to see changed?  A question not given an answer by the author(s)!

Specificity Regarding Actor(s)

One assumes that the actor(s) the author(s) has in mind is our national government.  That’s not specified by the author(s), however.

Implementability

Because we are given no information as to the specific change(s) being proposed by the author(s), it’s impossible to comment on the matter of implementability!

Conclusions

My purpose in writing this short paper was not so much to identify deficiencies in two “proposals” offered for solving our global warming problem, as to present a 4-point framework for either developing a proposal, or critiquing an existing one.  That the two “proposals” critiqued here “fall short” so far as my framework is concerned is incidental to presenting the framework itself.

My hope is that when the reader encounters some given proposal for “fighting” global warming—or himself/herself does so—s/he will use “adequate” criteria, such as the four identified, and used, in this short paper.

Alton C. Thompson is an independent writer

[1]  In the idiomatic sense:  “An informal method for determining whether something is authentic, credible, or ethical, by using one’ common sense or sense of propriety.”

[2]  A word that played an important role in the late E. F. Schumacher’s [1911 – 1977] A Guide for the Perplexed (1977); see this.

[3]  Would that our President had her level of integrity!!


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One Comment

  1. Solving the climate crisis will necessitate the end of capitalism and
    that necessitates action on a global scale through global coordination,
    planning and regulation. Commies. Get a life.