Consume, consume, consume April 26, 2007Posted by Andreas in Environment, renewable energy, Sustainable Living.
Some time ago, in describing how renewable energy sources and energy efficiency are capable of reducing the effects of global warming without the “help” of nuclear power, one of the several reports I referred to was the American Solar Energy Society’s “Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.”.
I still think that the report is valuable in proving that we need atomic energy as much as a butterfly needs a parachute, but I just read this really good critique of the approach taken in the report by Don Fitz, in which the author insists that the underlying problem is society’s mad and ever-growing rate of consumption and growth.
Here are a couple of excerpts from Fitz’s article:
Solar power, wind power and energy efficiency (EE) play vital roles in reducing CO2. The rub is the role of conservation, or reduction of total production. For “deep greens,” the most basic goal is social change that would foster the reduction of energy. For “shallow greens,” conservation is, at best, something to give lip service to while tunnel visioning on eco-gadgets.
The most important difficulty for EE is the market economy, which corporate environmentalists love so much and understand so little. Corporations do not compete to make less money. They compete to increase their profits. Market forces compel each corporation to expand production as rapidly as possible. When more efficient heating is available, corporations selling it will encourage customers to turn up their thermostats and run around in their underwear in the middle of winter.
This is not to say that EE plays no role in preventing the planet from frying. It is to say that EE must be accompanied with an intense program of conservation, economic redesign and governmental regulation. Without these, EE in a market economy is not merely worthless, but will likely result in expanded production and increased global warming.
Perpetual motion machines, biomass and biofuels will not halt species extinction caused by climate change. Again, efficiency and solar and wind power are critical components of a sustainable society. But focusing on them diverts attention from the real issues that need to be addressed — how to dramatically reduce energy production while improving the quality of life. This is the basis for the hard questions that corporate environmentalists avoid.
The global economy is increasing production of high-energy goods such as roads, cars, airplanes, fast food, meat and endless mountains of consumer crap. How do we change this to production of low-energy goods that people actually need, such as locally grown organic food, preventive health care and clothes and homes that endure?
The most basic task for stopping global warming is having a moral, ethical and spiritual revolution based on the belief that excessive crap is bad. Reduction of unnecessary production is the antithesis of what corporations are all about. However destructive it is for the planet, corporations must seek to convince people to consume more and more.