Saturday, December 10, 2011

Capitalism, Energy, and Climate Change (Occupy Boston FSU)

Climate change is one of the most dangerous effects of corporate greed. Huge profits result from the ever-growing use of coal, oil, and natural gas, supported by a business-environment. Yet if current trends are allowed to continue, global warming will cause rising temperatures and sea levels, and increasingly frequent extreme weather events, undermining the environment that our lives depend on. Climate "tipping points," leading to abrupt, irreversible harm, could occur within the lifetime of today's young adults. There is an urgent need for radical change, for reconstruction of the economy to meet human needs and protect the earth's environment.

This class discusses:

What's the problem?
  • Review of scientific aspects of climate change

Why is it so profitable to destroy the environment?
  • Subsidies to energy industries
  • Failure to make polluters pay for pollution
  • History of industrialization leads to bias in favor of dirty technologies

What do we need to build a sustainable economy?
  • The potential for efficiency and renewable energy
  • Electricity without fossil fuels
  • Rethinking and rebuilding transportation

What will it take to get there?
  • Defeating the energy industry and it's supporters in Congress
  • Building a clean energy infrastructure
  • Global agreement
  • Cooperation and funding for spreading best practices and most advanced technologies around the world

What will it cost?
  • Very little, compared to the cost of ever-increasing environmental destruction!

Frank Ackerman is a senior economist and director of the Climate Economics Group at the Stockholm Environment Institute's U.S. Center, a research institute at Tufts University. He is the author of numerous books, articles, and reports on climate, energy, and environmental policy; his latest book is: "Can We Afford the Future? The Economics of a Warming World." He was a founder and editor of Dollars & Sense magazine, and is active in Economists for Equity and Environment (E3 Network). He has a PhD in economics, Harvard University. He writes for Triple Crisis, Grist, and other blogs.