Unpacking Extinction Rebellion — Part III: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

28 09 2019

Kim Hill

Kim Hill, Sep 26 · 13 min read

Part I of this series investigated the corporate interests and fossil fuel companies behind the rebellion’s goal for net-zero emissions. In Part II we looked at XR’s goals, tactics and proposed solutions to the climate crisis, which are all serving capital at the expense of the natural world. In Part III, we dive in to the history of the climate movement, the tactics being used by the elites to co-opt activist movements into supporting corporate agendas, and what those agendas entail.

This article is largely a synthesis of the extensive research of Cory Morningstar into the manipulations of the climate movement by corporations and nonprofits, which is well worth reading, at Wrong Kind of Green, to get a deeper understanding of the actors involved and their elaborate marketing strategies.

Manufacturing Consent

The corporate sector, with its network of think-tanks, lobby groups, business associations, philanthropic foundations, global forums and summits, and co-opted environment groups, has been directing the climate movement towards its own goals for more than ten years. As this video puts it, “idealistic youth are simply being herded into pre-approved movements to create the illusion of a popular mandate for what the ruling classes have already determined to be the best course of action for preserving their dominance and control.”

Corporate power manufactures consent for its neoliberal agenda with a range of tactics:

· Advertising products as ‘green’ to appeal to concerned citizens, directing their energy into lifestyle actions and consumer choices rather than organising collectively to dismantle the global economy.

· Advocating market-based solutions to problems caused by the market itself, such as fossil fuel divestment schemes, that make no difference to the underlying economic system, as it is entirely powered by fossil fuels.

· Promoting over-hyped books and documentaries that offer lifestyle changes, new technologies and neoliberal reforms as solutions, and don’t mention the possibility of direct action or systemic political change. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and the recent Ice on Fire are the lead culprits, but there are dozens of these.

· Providing training to activists, to direct them to campaign in ways that are beneficial to corporate interests. Al Gore, who sees the climate crisis as “the biggest investor opportunity ever writ in history” has been doing this for years with the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

· Installing their own leaders into environmental movements, especially young people who have had no experience in grassroots organising. Climate Reality again, and Sunrise Movement, 350, the Youth Climate Coalitions, Zero Hour and others, through youth leadership training programs that offer careers and in some cases opportunities to meet world leaders at global summits.

· Inviting prominent activists to attend and speak at corporate events, to make it look like they really care. The celebrity status of Greta Thunberg is a recent example of this approach. I’m definitely not making a judgement of her choice to accept the invitations, as I probably would have done the same if I was in her position. The point here is that the motives for inviting her are to detract attention away from their underlying agenda of promoting economic growth.

· Providing favourable media coverage to symbolic actions and non-confrontational movements. The BBC and The Guardian have been consistently enthusiastic in their reporting of the XR protests.

· Offering jobs in their foundations and NGOs to effective activists, to direct their energy away from radical change and into reform. Even Big Oil is recruiting, wanting to “harness the power” of young activists, and bring the fossil fuel industry into the movement.

· Recruiting concerned citizens into supporting corporate-endorsed Big Green NGOs, such as Greenpeace, Avaaz, WWF and 350, and soliciting donations for these organisations, while starving legitimate grassroots groups of support, media and funding.

· Isolating people working towards systemic change from the movement, so they can’t be effective. Extinction Rebellion training specifically includes strategies on how to do this.

· Directing activists into electoral politics, to work within the current system. The UK Labour Party supports the rebellion, and in the US the Democrats are supporting climate activist groups. Rebels are then distracted from their goals by party politics, and drawn into compromises for the sake of the party.

· Offering grants and sponsorship, on the condition that the recipients align their goals with those of the sponsor. The Guardian reported on July 12: “A group of wealthy US philanthropists and investors have donated almost half a million pounds to support the grassroots movement Extinction Rebellion and school strike groups — with the promise of tens of millions more in the months ahead.” All on the condition of non-confrontational and corporate-friendly campaigning methods, of course. And among those wealthy philanthropists are oil tycoons.

· Offering support for the movement, and conceding to demands, but using this tactic for self-promotion, to market themselves as sustainable and green without making any real change to their business or governance practices. This brings activists over to their side, and activism becomes an advertising campaign for business.

· Dividing movements into those who accept the promises of green business, and those who see through the greenwash. In this way the movement is undermined by directing energy into infighting, rather than working together towards a clear goal of ending corporate power and control. It leads those who buy in to the promises of green growth to directly campaign against the activists who are defending the natural world.

The goal of the climate movement has become to sustain and expand the system of corporate dominance, in direct opposition to the environmental movement’s goals of dismantling this economic system, to protect and regenerate wild nature. Rebels have become unpaid corporate lobbyists. Big business has seized on popular anger at their abusive practices, and redirected it to prop up the very system that needs to be torn down.

Corporate leadership

In XR’s core leadership team are long-time corporate lobbyists Gail Bradbrook and Farhana Yamin.

Bradbrook works for Citizens Online, a telecommunications industry lobby group that campaigns for ‘digital inclusion’ to get as many people as possible to use their products, and to compel councils to accept the rollout of 5G networks. She has used her leadership position in XR to launch XR Business, a network of corporations who see the climate crisis as — you guessed it — a great business opportunity. The Astroturfing the way for the Fourth Industrial Revolution series of articles explores Bradbrook’s corporate connections and their influence on the rebellion.

Yamin is the CEO of Track 0, a non-profit that supports the goals of the Paris Agreement (a plan for continued economic growth that is completely out of touch with reality) and declares “Getting on track to net zero is an economic imperative as much as a scientific one. The prize is innovation opportunities, and an abundance of technologies and ideas that fuel economic growth, create jobs and fuel the track to a bright economic future”. According to her bio “She is widely credited with getting the goal of net-zero emissions by mid-century into the Paris Agreement.” She is also a member of the Global Agenda Council on Climate Change at the World Economic Forum, and an Associate Fellow at Chatham House, a think tank on international affairs.

Who put the fox in charge of the henhouse? That these people are in leadership shows that the rebellion has not been co-opted by corporate interests along the way, but has been wholly contrived from the beginning as a propaganda campaign. The very definition of an astroturf movement. The good intentions and hard work of many thousands of rebels count for nothing when these are the people running the show.

The goal of the corporate backers of the rebellion is to facilitate the transfer of trillions of dollars of government money into corporate profits. It’s a bailout for a global economy that is falling into recession. After the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, people are unlikely to support another bailout, so this time it is being presented as necessary to save us from supposedly catastrophic climate change. The money required is taken from working people in the form of pension funds, carbon taxes and climate emergency levies. It’s all being invested in the energy industry and infrastructure, thereby accelerating the process of genuinely catastrophic ecological collapse.

The Climate Markets and Investment Association states: “Much has been written about the nature and the scale of this economic opportunity. Most recently, the New Climate Economy estimated that bold action on climate change would result in incremental economic opportunities of $26 trillion and 65 million new jobs, that wouldn’t exist with a business as usual approach, between now and 2030.” Interesting how the potential profits are of the same order of magnitude as the amount governments are asked to invest.

For the capitalists, the crisis is that the economy is failing and ‘climate action’ can be used to save it. For the natural world, including any humans who identify as living beings rather than economic production units, the crisis is that capitalism is destroying us, and climate action to keep it going will cause total annihilation. Pick your crisis.

From anti-globalisation to inclusive capitalism

In the 1990s and 2000s, there were massive protests all around the world, against the World Economic Forum, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organisation, which all exist to advance the interests of powerful corporations at the expense of the commons and the third world. These bodies, which are all unelected and have no popular mandate for their existence, spent millions on security and policing to protect their events from overwhelming opposition. The protesters demanded that these bodies be disbanded, and replaced by organisations that represent the people. Instead of conceding, the elites infiltrated, funded, and co-opted the resistance, and built their own mass movement, one that they could control and lead.

Protest has become a commodity, a marketable product that the corporate sector can buy, and the nonprofits are happy to sell for some funding, media attention and good feelings. The protesters themselves are both a disposable product, and consumer of the protest message, sold on feelings of guilt, fear, virtue, and their need to take action.

In the lead up to the school strikes in March, the World Economic Forum released this video advertisement, encouraging young people to join the strikes. As if the strikes are a product, and the youth the target market. Think about that. The very institution that was the target of a massive international protest movement not long ago, due to its promotion of unjust and environmentally destructive practices on a global scale, is now directly advertising a protest movement that appears to have exactly the same concerns.

Instead of identifying the corporate-controlled economic system as the cause of ecological collapse, this new movement is guided to direct their protest at some nebulous ideas about changing atmospheric conditions. A massive, international movement is quite literally protesting against a load of hot air. And somehow, the story that the corporate sector are the saviours, who can fix everything if only we demand our governments bail out the collapsing economy, and give them a few trillion dollars to invest in new infrastructure and energy sources, is rarely questioned. It’s all wrapped up in the innocuous and undefined term Climate Action, which is widely accepted as a worthy and necessary goal, with barely any inquiry into what it actually means.

The World Economic Forum aims for ‘inclusive capitalism’, and as capitalism is an economic system that sees everyone and everything as resources to be exploited, being included in the scheme isn’t likely to be on anyone’s wish list. Our imagination, creativity, skills and wishes to make the world better are turned into innovation, entrepreneurship, and human resources. Our insecurities, ambitions, and basic needs are a resource to be extracted and sold back to us as products, services, and experiences. Every living being, every natural feature, and everything the world needs to survive and live well, is all included in capitalism.

In an economy that sees all of nature and all of human experience as a resource to be traded, even protest movements can have their energy extracted. People power is just another energy source to be harnessed and used to fuel economic growth.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Just as carbon dioxide is captured and used as a resource to suck the last drops of oil from the planet, so too is resistance (a useful waste product of the destructive economic system) captured and used to extract every last drop of our human resources. And the corporate elites have a specific plan for what they want to do with these human resources.

According to their website, “The World Economic Forum provides a platform for the world’s 1,000 leading companies to shape a better future.” I really don’t want to imagine what kind of future a thousand multi-national corporations might envision when they get together. And I don’t have to, as they’ve laid it all out in gruesome detail. It’s called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.”

“The revolution could yield greater inequality, particularly in its potential to disrupt labor markets. As automation substitutes for labor across the entire economy, the net displacement of workers by machines might exacerbate the gap between returns to capital and returns to labor,” meaning the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And “governments will gain new technological powers to increase their control over populations, based on pervasive surveillance systems and the ability to control digital infrastructure.” And “The Fourth Industrial Revolution will also profoundly impact the nature of national and international security, affecting both the probability and the nature of conflict… As this process takes place and new technologies such as autonomous or biological weapons become easier to use, individuals and small groups will increasingly join states in being capable of causing mass harm… the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to ‘robotize’ humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul.”

That’s quite a sales pitch. Extreme poverty, war, surveillance, government and corporate control, and soullessness. These are the people promoting the climate strikes, and using Greta’s message to advance their goals.

The definition of fascism as “a merger of state and corporate power” has been attributed to Mussolini, and is an accurate description of this latest phase of globalization.

Another event promoting the Fourth Industrial Revolution was the Global Climate Action Summit, held in September 2018. Involving a lot of the same corporations as the WEF, and sponsored by Google, Facebook and Amazon, it states in its Exponential Climate Action Roadmap:

“To halve emissions by 2030 requires the implementation and scaling of a set of technologies which are at different levels of development. Mobile internet, cloud computing, big data, apps, smart devices and first-generation industrial automation are mature technologies and can serve as a foundation for big efficiency gains in all industries by providing connectivity and computing. The next technologies down the ramp are artificial intelligence, 5G networks, digital fabrication, smart sensors, the large-scale deployment of the internet of things and drones. These will enable a further level of emissions cuts before 2030. Finally come the technologies which are in a relatively early phase at the time of writing — blockchain, immersive user experiences like virtual- and augmented-reality, 3D printing, gene editing, advanced robotics, and digital assistants. At this stage it’s impossible to quantify their potential impact on emissions, but it can be assumed to be substantial.”

Note the word exponential in the title. Exponential growth. Exponential climate action. Exponential rate of extinction. All this new technology is predicted to use up to one fifth of global electricity by 2025, mooting any claims of efficiency gains. And another thing: most of these things are weapons and surveillance technologies. This plan has nothing to do with scaling back any polluting or life-destroying industries, and everything to do with going to war, and monitoring, manipulating and controlling the population. I feel I need to repeat, in capitals, that THESE THINGS ARE WEAPONS. And all being passed off as climate action.

Now making weapons would be an entirely appropriate response to ongoing environmental devastation, if the weapons were to be used by living beings acting in self-defence, to drive out the industrialists destroying the land that provides our food, water and shelter. But here the opposite is happening: the industrialists are using the weapons to repress the very essence of our human nature, and control our actions and thoughts, and even our genes. This is the ultimate panopticon: smart cities, smart meters, smart grids, smart appliances, facial recognition, all monitoring our every move, every interaction and every transaction. A world where we talk to machines more often than we talk with other people, and we definitely don’t speak with trees or spirits. Where even lampposts chat with you, and trees are replaced with smart trees. No possibility of dissent or resistance. We’ve been led into demanding our own subjugation and oppression.

If this happened in the real world, the one where people get to think for themselves and act in their own self-interest, the population would rise up and burn down every one of these 1000 corporations, and destroy all their assets and infrastructure. But here in the screen-mediated propaganda-sedated techno-fantasy world, where the only thoughts on offer in the marketplace of ideas are mass-produced corporate-branded delusions, we’re presented with a kid whose script says “I want you to panic” so we do that instead.

I’ll end this section with a quote from Cory Morningstar: “What better way to create a demand for something detrimental to both the environment and the populace, than to package it under climate change solutions, with the lovely and innocent face of Greta. With reality turned on its head, industry doesn’t have to impose its will on the people — the people will impose it on themselves, via Avaaz et al. The people are thus engineered to demand the very false solutions that the corporations have had up their sleeves for years and even decades.”

+ + + + + + + + +

Part IV will look at ways the rebellion might be turned around to serve life instead of profit, and offer some principles for effective action.


Actions

Information

16 responses

28 09 2019
kika

excellent article and frightening as so many people are now so easily duped. and congratulations to the great journalist cory morningstar. you can also read her on facebook …. just type her name in the search bar.

28 09 2019
amaranthisme

This is very true, however a bit of green wash was always going to make it through and if that helps people start to change their actions then it’s a very loose first starting point. Even I bought ‘green’ products to start with in 2004.

Just has to start somewhere and by shaming people you are turning them against you.

29 09 2019
chrish618

The article tries not to shame people by arguing that the conspirators are at the top end who so easily coopt and undermine the good intensions of all those caring people at the bottom. The effect of this analysis on most activists wouldn’t be to turn them against you so much as to propel them back into complacency and inaction. A lot of people are on a wafer thin thread.

I think the article is really for hardened criminals like ourselves who think a lot and who can handle this kind of negative, negative reality.

28 09 2019
Ted Trainer

You probably saw this…an excellent discussion of how the corporate elite are out to gear climate concern to the generation of vast lucrative investment opportunities…we’ll need huge spending on tech fixes, so governments will have to provide lots of funds… all of which uses concern to fuel system-reinforcing action… when the problems can’t be solved unless the system is scrapped.

28 09 2019
Brendon Crook

Thank you for posting these XR posts Mike.

They are a welcome break from the soap opera of the “green” brigade running around slapping each other on the back & giving one another high 5’s.

There is little that can change this cultures musings attitudes, beliefs and actions whilst they are trapped by a cultural story as deviant, devoid of reality and totally obsessed by their own reflections in a broken mirror as this culture is.

We are trapped in a hall of mirrors that only reflects our own selves & how “incredible” we are totally ignoring the non-human nations and the ways of their own worlds.
This whole culture is growing more & more introverted to the detriment of all other creatures & we have wet dreams that more of the same can restore the total mess civilization has made of this planet.

The Green New Deal is another example of this culture that is trying to keep the wheels of destruction going.

This cultures arrogance, its carelessness and its total alienation from the planet and her subtle ways has sealed its own doom………………..

29 09 2019
Brandon Young

The article says: “The goal of the climate movement has become to sustain and expand the system of corporate dominance, in direct opposition to the environmental movement’s goals of dismantling this economic system, to protect and regenerate wild nature.”

This is seriously misguided thinking. The goal must be to solve climate change without dismantling the economic system, or climate change will never be solved.

We are never going to see the end of corporate dominion over the globe, at least not until the catastrophic unraveling of the global systems on which human civilisation depends is already well underway, and chaos rises to the point where the financial-corporate system can no longer provide the military and secret services with enough provisions to keep them stable and operational.

No, there will be no revolutionary change to the economic system. The so called War on Terror has already made certain of that, by building an enormous security and surveillance apparatus that stretches around the planet, and that allows all forms of real revolutionary activity to be legally and thoroughly repressed. The system is well and truly prepared to defend its own interests to the bitter end.

Given the impossibility of dismantling the corporate controlled economic system, the solution must be to use market mechanisms to dramatically reduce the industrial activities that are destructive to the natural world, while dramatically increasing the activities that restore the power the natural world has to regulate the climate, all without threatening the global economy or the elites who own and operate it. This means an increasingly circular economy, which can maintain the same level of economic activity but with constructive activities systematically replacing destructive ones.

We need to put the ideology aside, and just focus on the solution, rather than allowing the anger people might have against the elites and the system that put us in this mess to be misdirected into a war against the system that the people simply can not win.

Anyone who might have missed it can see my argument for change on the thread for the first article in this series.

29 09 2019
psile

The two aims are incompatible. Capitalism requires infinite growth to continue, and we live on a finite world.

29 09 2019
Brandon Young

What is the argument to support the presumption that capitalism requires infinite growth?

Certainly the current model of finance depends on infinite growth of private debt, and continuous expansion of economic activity is the easiest way to generate that demand for new debt. But we could easily fix that dependence on debt growth if we came to our senses.

So why does capitalism itself depend on indefinite economic expansion?

If you wish to back your assertion that fixing climate change and maintaining current volumes of economic activity are incompatible, then you would need to challenge my argument from the earlier thread, which asserts that we can solve climate change as rapidly as we choose and at no overall cost.

The solution is really quite straightforward, but it is the marketing and politics of the solution that are profoundly challenging. Still, it is a far better option than pretending that the financial-corporate system that stands in power over the entire planet can somehow be overthrown, and far better than simply surrendering to a fatalistic conclusion that we have no power to act on climate change.

If we are smart, we will adopt of model of reform that has both nature and markets working together to eliminate the most destructive dynamics in the system, thus solving climate change systematically, while leaving everything else intact.

30 09 2019
chrish618

The problem is the global financial system. At its foundation is a huge bubble of unsecured credit. Hundreds of trillions of dollar of investment. If the world de-grows then we have global recession and that huge bubble dramatically collapses. This same bubble that underpins capitalism.

Now it’s possible to imagine this collapse happening, turning a blind eye to the widespread social chaos, and when the dust settled starting all over with a clean slate and inventing a new economic order. Except no economist actually knows how a capitalist system can work without being underpinned by credit. There isn’t a model anywhere. The driving force would be missing.

Then there is the additional problem that we live in such a depleted world that consumer living as we know it is up against hard limits of resource supply and pollution. Capitalism without the driving force of consumerism is an anachronism.

Post collapse – if an organised society is possible thereafter – there will be an economic order of some kind but you couldn’t call it capitalism any more. More than likely it will entail a very strong stratification of society, like a modern form of feudalism, where those who have access to resources will forcefully control a very impoverished citizenry.

It’s hard to predict how humans will behave in those circumstances. Some believe that with their backs to the wall humans may behave cooperatively. History shows that we have the potential for both.

30 09 2019
Brandon Young

You wrote: “Except no economist actually knows how a capitalist system can work without being underpinned by credit. There isn’t a model anywhere. The driving force would be missing.”

Pay no attention to economists. They operate in a nonsense theoretical realm.

The way to remove the dependence of the economic system on exponential debt growth is to take away the power the private banks have to create their own money out of thin air. The money creation process would be handled by a sovereign agency that creates only enough new money to cover the demands of the real economy. The solution is not only already available; it comes with a transition plan already laid out and a list of substantial social and economic benefits during the transition. See Fixing Finance on my blog.

Consumerism is a delusion that keeps the population docile and ignorant, and it is responsible for driving the excessive production and consumption that has been depleting the natural world. But we don’t have to overthrow it somehow, we just need to adjust the market incentives to incorporate the costs of depletion of natural resources and systems into all economic goods, as well as incorporate the benefits of the preservation and restoration of natural resources systems into all prices, and the markets will replace destructive activities with constructive ones simply by pursuing the profit motive as they always have.

It will still be capitalism, and it will still be driven by deluded consumerism, but we will have the power to decide how destructive the industrial system will be overall. If we want human civilisation to collapse more slowly than the current trajectory, the industrial system can be made less destructive, or should we decide to pursue prosperity and sustainability as higher priorities than economic growth, then the industrial system can made as constructive as we choose, within the limits imposed by an already badly depleted natural world.

So there are no real obstacles in the way of a transition to capitalism that does not depend on perpetual growth, only psychological and political obstacles.

As to what happens post collapse, your speculation is probably as good as mine, because the enormous complexity of the network of systems that enable human civilisation to have the current level of industrialisation means that – by definition – collapse would be chaotic, so outcomes would be impossible to predict. My view is that chaos would easily overwhelm control, and the scenario would look like the movie The Road almost instantaneously. I think the only constructive presumption is that we absolutely must avoid collapse altogether, so we need to start the transition to sustainable finance and sustainable economics as soon as we can.

30 09 2019
chrish618

What about paying attention to physicists? While not disagreeing with you re sustainable economics, that can’t defy the laws of physics.

30 09 2019
Brandon Young

Which laws of physics do you think need to be violated for my argument to be acceptable? I have a pretty good grasp of thermodynamics, so feel free to go into detail.

30 09 2019
chrish618

I was responding to: “There are no real obstacles in the way of a transition to capitalism that does not depend on perpetual growth, only psychological and political obstacles.”

Physics is not an obstacle? I think you do need to include it, Brandon, because it’s the most vital ingredient of all. We can’t magic away billions of tonnes of added carbon. And the so-called ‘circular economy’ is only partially viable, a significant proportion of resources not being recoverable, or having to be utilised in manufacturing and recycling.

Even turning a blind eye to physics, I’ve yet to see any capitalist model that can work in the absence of consumer advertising, profit and growth. Whatever animal comes out the other side will need a new name, I suggest. Some have suggested the ‘sharing economy’, but even that is just a means by which capitalist enterprise is made available to everyone – e.g. Uber drivers , AirBNB renting etc.

But I’m totally with you on the need to restrain the worst aspect of laissez faire capitalism.

30 09 2019
Brandon Young

You wrote: “We can’t magic away billions of tonnes of added carbon.”

We can certainly exploit the power nature has to sequester enormous amounts of greenhouse gases, through building up soil volumes on agricultural lands and protecting and restoring nature’s extremely powerful and efficient natural carbon sinks. See Boosting Nature’s Cooling System on my blog.

Under pricing dynamics which create giant revenue streams for carbon sinking, both corporate and family farmers would have enormous additional incentives to adopt regenerative agricultural practices, which are already more profitable and far more sustainable and productive than chemical based industrial practices. At the same time, national governments would have enormous incentives to suddenly protect ecosystems acting as natural carbon sinks, and to restore them as much as possible, in order to maximise the national share of global revenue streams.

We can’t know in advance how much of the carbon deficit can be covered by this positive side of the equation with increased carbon sinking, at various levels of the pricing signals and revenues, but fortunately we don’t need to, as will be made clear shortly.

You wrote: “And the so-called ‘circular economy’ is only partially viable, a significant proportion of resources not being recoverable, or having to be utilised in manufacturing and recycling.”

Under the new pricing dynamics, which embody the emissions costs into the prices of all goods and services, the systematic outcome would be that businesses would pursue profitability by innovating to reduce the emissions intensity of goods and services. Consumers would not need to do anything different than they do now. They would simply choose cheaper alternatives that have all of the same properties except for lower emissions intensity, and the overall outcome would be significantly less emissions supporting the very same level of consumption.

The same pricing dynamics can be used to control the depletion rates of critical finite resources. Put a price on the economic activities that consume critical resources and pay out the revenues for activities that recover them at the end of product lifecycles. There are limitations on the processes to extract these resources from manufactured items, and the energy required for those processes, but the pricing dynamics would address that in several ways. Briefly, the less of a critical resource that could be recovered from products, the higher its recovery price will become, so the economic incentive is there to innovate in order to recover more of that resource. Also, the less recoverable that resource is, the higher the price penalty will rise for its consumption in the first place, so it is in the interest of manufacturers to make products more recyclable by their very design. Costs and benefits apply effectively over the entire product lifecycle, and these and other dynamics make sure the economy becomes as circular as is physically possible.

Products that are difficult to create without high emissions intensity or high consumption of critical resources will become increasingly more expensive, and volumes of production and consumption will necessarily fall. All of these dynamics effectively force the circular economy right up to the limits of the power to innovate.

The pricing signals will drive markets to determine how much of the net emissions reductions are achieved by having nature sequester ever more carbon, how much of the net emissions reductions are achieved by the industrial system developing ever more emissions efficient goods and services, and how much is achieved simply by consuming lower volumes of destructive products. We don’t need to plan or predict the resultant mix, just set the market incentives and watch what happens, correcting for any short term perverse outcomes if necessary.

You wrote: “I’ve yet to see any capitalist model that can work in the absence of consumer advertising, profit and growth.”

I already said that capitalism would continue to be driven by deluded consumerism, so the advertising and profit growth do not need to be sacrificed.

3 10 2019
chrish618

Why protecting capitalism means we will fail on climate. The two are irreconcilable.. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/18/ending-climate-change-end-capitalism

3 10 2019
Brandon Young

That is a bit of an ideological rant.

Given that nature already sequesters 120 of the 130 billion tonnes of carbon that the industrial system emits, any argument on solving climate change that does not even mention natural carbon sinks should probably be aggressively challenged or totally ignored, depending on the forum.

In the conclusion the article states: “To pretend that we can compromise our way through this while we wait for a magical, technological bullet that will keep temperatures down without costing us anything is beyond willful ignorance now.”

We don’t need a technological bullet; we have nature’s power to solve climate change. We just need to collectively open our eyes and minds and see it. Not to see nature is the willful ignorance at work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s