Renewable Energy Economy Cheaper than Global Warming-Induced Biospheric and Economic System Collapse
Stephen Cohen writes, "In the long run, global warming will cost more than the cost of moving to a fossil fuel free economy." But how to bring that cost differential into the present in a way that generates win-win transformational economic change is the policy challenge humanity faces for sustainability success.
What people don't understand, and that leads them to a correct individual choice but false aggregated societal choice in the present (either consumption or investment), is that the nominally cheaper cost of fossil-fuel-based energy now is an illusion. The only reason it is cheaper is because market failure generates false price-signals that do not fully reflect the economic catastrophe towards which the cheaper fossil fuel prices--like a siren song--are beguilingly and inextricably pulling us at a break-neck and accelerating speed.
However, individual producers and consumers are not entirely to blame. Individuals have limited capacity to buck the system and current prices. One of the real challenges of an effective response to the impending climate-warming-induced biologic and economic systems collapse of the business-as-usual (BUA) scenario is the policy innovation required to stimulate a lightening-fast systems transformation to sustainability. Policy innovation is more critical than technological innovation, although both are required. However, technological innovation without policy innovation will be insufficient.
Individual actors can only go so far. They can only incrementally change the status-quo, but can't transform the system. Incremental change alters little aspects of a basic pattern. Transformation changes the pattern itself; it fundamentally alters the pattern. We no longer can afford incremental change. No matter how much the current pattern of economc tools, processes, materials, formulas, products could be incrementally changed, the current pattern IS the problem and no amount of incremental change will be sufficient to avoid systems disequilibrium and collapse.
The time has come for systems transformation. Nothing else will work. For the market, for individual actors, to drive the needed systems transformation empowerment is required at the system level. That empowerment will come from new, innovative policies that will bust the entrenched-interest-status-quo head lock on needed change; that will ennervate the innvoative entrepreneurs of a new ecologically-based economy in a new bout of capitalistic creative destruction that will redeploy society's resources for a a win-win solution instead of the traditional lose-win.
We need to drive the system towards its own win-win transformation within 20 years. That is the sustainability challenge humanity faces.
Pardoxically, long before we run out of gas, the higher cost of increasingly limited supply will put a choke hold on our outmoded fossil-fuel-based economy adn therein lies the achilles heal of the feet draggers, those who say there's plenty of supply out there, even a 100 years or more. Well that may be the case in terms of stock, but not in terms of its increasingly accelerating relative value and scarcity in a globablizing world that will add almost 50% population growth of 3 BILLION people by 2050, an unheard of historic first. No one really knows if the biological system could handle it, but one thing is for sure, the humn economy likely can't AND the planet's biological life-support system, the biosphere, cannot handle the economy trying to meet the demand given its current ecologicaly/natural economy/capital/environment-destroying tools, processes, and effects.
Unfortunately, that scenario is far longer than the dramatically harsher and more costly climactic conditions that global "warming" will usher in over the next 10-20 years. Those harsher conditions will generate dramatic ecological transformations from radically altered hydrologic (water) regimes, extreme temperature variations (of the mile one or two or three degree increase in mean earth surface), increasingly frequent and normalized extreme, life-threatening, and destructive weather events. These new "exogenous" conditions will produce periodically frequent and permanent disruption, dislocations, and crises for our local human economies leading to a lot of uncertainty, anxiety, deprivation, suffering, death, and destruction.
Global warming is a misnomer. It lulls one into a false sense of lethargic security.
It should be called Human-Economy-Induced Climate-Warming-Induced Unrecoverable Biospheric and Economic Systems Crash and Collapse. But THAT's too long for a sound bite. How about simply Climate Burning or Climate Collapse?
We have approximately 10-20 years to reverse course, avoid the unrecoverable crash and collapse, suffer through some major biologic and economic dislocation, crises, and crashes, and rebuild the human economy in a way that stabilizes and reverses the climate-induced biologic and economic crises and produces a higher level of economic prosperity than humanity has been able to produce to date. How likely is success? Probably low, but the do-nothing scenario is unacceptable and the historic reward of success woudl be huge, so why not try?
The transition to--the production of--the wealthier more powerful ecologically sustainable and based economy and society is humanity's last true frontier, last long-wave of economic development, and last opportunity for prosperity.
Let's get going! The incipient, effective, whole-systems, and critical-path response has begun. Stay tuned to S-2030 for understanding, resources, solutions, and initiatives that move individuals and the system to sustainability systems transformation and success.