Today’s post focuses on an article from Truthout on the cost of “externalities” or the unpaid costs of growth, extraction, industrial agriculture, meat production, and other climate change drivers. The author JP Sottile uses a credit card analogy to press home how the cost of these externalities are coming due…with interest. Also included, an interesting video on regenerative farming.
Retake Our Democracy on KSFR 101.1 FM, Saturday, June 1, 8:30 am – 9 am. Last week I interviewed Speaker Egolf in a review of the 2019 Legislative Session, click here to listen to the podcast. Today, I interviewed Teresa Leger de Fernandez, a tremendous candidate running for US Congress in District 3…to replace Ben Ray Lujan. You will not want to miss this, Teresa does a great job of telling you why she deserves your vote. Next week, Jen Gose, candidate for NM House in District 54. No she is not challenging a DINO, she is challenging the GOP Minority Leader James Townsend. Retake is going to begin a series of interviews with Democratic candidates in South and East NM, to better educate our listeners about the unique economic, climate, social and political challenges in those regions while providing a platform for good Democratic candidates. Stay tuned.
“TRUTH TELLING IN THE AGE OF CLIMATE DISRUPTION” RSVP for June 2nd for a conversation between seriously committed women activists: Phyllis Bennis and Corrine Sanchez. Sunday, June 2nd from 4:30 – 6PM, New Energy Economy brings you the next in our “Truth Telling in the Age of Climate Disruption” speakers series, at the Santa Fe home of Leslie Lakind. Talk about two inspiring women who are not afraid to speak truth to power. This will be a very interesting afternoon. And the event is almost sold out. So….Click here to RSVP and for Les’ address..
Wednesday, June 5, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Retake Our Democracy, Input & Strategy Session at the Center for Progress Justice, 1420 Cerrillos, in Santa Fe. On May 9, we had a great turnout and a tremendous meeting where we began sketching a 2019-2020 legislative and election strategy, as well as an outreach and organizing process. Whether you were able to attend or not, we want to encourage you to come to this meeting and help us develop strategies that make the best use of Retake resources and capacities over the next 10 months as we prepare for the interim hearings, another Roundhouse session and the 2020 June primary. Light food, NO DRINK CUZ WE DON’T WANT TO USE PLASTIC. But we will have Retake Our Democracy stickers you can put on your bumper or your water bottle. no drink, just very important conversation. We have a pretty clear idea of what we want to do given the feedback we got on May 9. There was consensus among the group that we need to form some teams focused on outreach and organizing, research, climate action and media and marketing. And one volunteer offered to co-lead the media effort and another the climate action team. But we need others to step up and we’ll sort that out on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, a 20–minute Clifford Rees training in how the Interim Hearings play out and how we can use them to educate ourselves, advocate and build relationships. Click here to review notes from the May 9 meeting. Please RSVP by writing to Paul@RetakeOurDemocracy.org. Thank you.
Capitalism One Credit Card Balance Coming Due & Mother Nature is a Fierce Bill Collector
It seems like every day another piece of evidence emerges of the accelerating climate change crisis. Now the Lone Star tick, typically found in Eastern Texas, is spreading up the eastern seaboard and also up into the Midwest, as far north as Wisconsin. The tick’s movement is attributed to climate change. The Lone Star tick carries a particularly pernicious disease called alpha-gal. Symptoms include: hives, eczema, swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, as well as wheezing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, headaches and even the potentially deadly interruption of normal breathing by anaphylaxis. That doesn’t sound pleasant at all. But what is particularly difficult about alpha-gal is that symptoms don’t appear soon after being bitten. Here Mother Nature demonstrates a sense of irony. Alpha-gal lies dormant until it is triggered by ingestion of a healthy dose of beef. Yes, climate change drives the tick north and then one of the largest contributors to methane release and climate change, beef production, combine forces to trigger the symptoms. Given that most folks would not wonder if these flu-like symptoms were triggered by a meal they’ve been eating all their lives, it is difficult to diagnose alpha-gal and hence more difficult to prescribe the antibiotics that can treat it. And quick treatment is important to preventing the more severe symptoms.
Truthout’s JP Sottile used reporting on the alpha-gal disease as a point of departure for an extended discourse on the failure of our nation and for that matter the world to fairly attribute the once unanticipated and now scientifically demonstrated consequences of our behavior as a species. We fail to incorporate in the cost of all we consume, the consequences of those behaviors, whether that is the use of gas and oil, the consumption of beef, the production of plastics, and the list goes on and on. From Truthout:
From alpha-gal syndrome to herbicide resistance, from rising seas to superstorms, we’re watching Mother Nature’s accounting system repeatedly expose the fatal flaw driving economic growth during the Anthropocene era. That flaw is the fallacy of externalities. The simple Wikipedia definition of an “externality” is a “cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit.”
Sottile goes on to describe how industry has imposed many of its “externalities” upon under-represented communities, indigenous populations, the poor, the vulnerable whether they live in Puerto Rico or Flint or any of dozens of Southern Hemisphere countries. But Sotille also describes how the externalities are not assigned to vulnerable people but to Mother Nature. Rather than calculating the real costs of our exploitation of nature, we simply use what Sottile calls the Capitalist One Credit Card, which we use to charge the externalities and delay paying the full price.
In the case of climate change, think of it like a CO2 credit card. Let’s call it the “Capitalism One” card. We’ve been charging our skyrocketing carbon emissions to that card for many decades. Every car purchased, every plane ride taken, every Amazon Prime Delivery selected and every Big Mac picked up at the drive-through has externalized the true cost of that purchase. Missing are the greenhouse gases that never get calculated into the purchase price of anything. Instead, we charge that cost onto our collective Capitalism One card.
Just consider lone star ticks to be one of nature’s little bill collectors. Alpha-gal is the cost, with interest. The same goes for the earthquakes and contaminated water that come from fracking reinjection wells. We use hydraulic fracturing to forcefully break open natural subterranean formations, to release oil and gas that we blithely burn into climate-altering CO2 while also leaking climate-altering methane. Then, in an externality twofer, we take the wastewater from the process, which can become radioactive, and we “dispose” of it by re-injecting it into the ground through wells, which, in turn, Mother Nature “bills us” with contaminated water, earthquakes and health problems.” Or by using it to irrigate crops;-)
Sottile is a very artful writer, going on to describe how out of ignorance or willful disregard, we have continue to charge these externalities to our Capitalism One credit card and then he asks: “Have you ever heard of a balloon payment?” Indeed, as he continues he identifies Mother Nature as now coming calling as a bill collector wanting the balance on our credit card paid, only Mother Nature’s due date is inflexible and the payments sought are ongoing and increasing with the interest on the balance coming in the form of compounding factors: methane, CO2, industrial production of crops and beef, destruction of the rain forest, each working in consort and each demanding payment for our wantonly charging off the externalities which if we had had to account for them from the beginning would have made fossil fuels far too expensive and beef a luxury item.
Neoliberal economists would argue that if fossil fuels, beef production and industrial agriculture had incorporated their true costs, they would have been prohibitively expensive and that would have severely limited growth. Bingo. And limiting growth is precisely what should have happened long ago. Mother Nature has tried to tell us that unfettered growth is destructive, but we hid that destruction and charged it off to the future. Well, its payment time. After ticking off one $100B climate catastrophe after another, all from the last year or two, Sottile cites this staggering statistic.
Even more dauntingly, researchers at the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom estimated that the “climate-change-driven feedbacks in the Arctic” currently driving up the rate of warming could add “nearly $70 trillion to the overall costs of climate change — even if the world meets the Paris Agreement climate targets,” according to a report in National Geographic. To put that in perspective, global GDP in 2017 was $80 trillion.”
How do you pay the costs of climate change when they damn near exceed all the money you produce in the world?
Click here to read the full Truthout article. It is well worth your time as he goes into far more detail about the costs of climate change and toward the end points to some promising changes like the explosive growth of plant-based alternatives to beef. Plus Sottile has a way of neatly turning a phrase, so at least you are entertained as you absorb the brutal truth.
And since the going was pretty rough in the article, we provide an uplifting video below about something we can actually do to help address the challenges of climate change–regenerative farming. Check it out.
Paul & Roxanne