Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I don't even have a category

In a lot of those rather annoying end of year round-ups* people have mentioned this as the year that New Zealand politicians finally started taking notice of climate change. I wouldn't disagree, I'm just not convinced it's a good thing for stopping climate change.

I'm the opposite of knowledgeable about the subject. While I find ecosystems and evolution fascinating, I don't have much energy for environmental politics. This is partly because I disagree with the individualist bent of much environmental politics, but it's mostly because I cannot be a political activist if I don't have hope, and when I think of climate change (for example) hope is not the phrase that immediately springs to mind (I make it a general rule not to think about climate change for more than thirty seconds at a time).

But the only solution to climate change in mainstream politics appears to be to turn pollution and the environment into a commodity. The debate becomes how much of a cost is too high to pay for businesses - how low the price can be to get to destroy our world.

I just don't see how it can be a solution. The many things that are produced for profit, whether its food, housing, they don't meet people's needs. Creating things for a profit is what got us into this mess in the first place.

I was talking about it with Dr Frances, a scientist friend who knows much more about these things than I do, and she agreed with my points, but said that it was hard to see what other sort of solution there could be under capitalism.

* It pisses me off how there's always 'best of business' included in these rounds ups, but never 'best for unions', and the politics is always party-political and never politics of resistance. Unfortunately I'm too close to write one myself, but someone else should.


  1. But the only solution to climate change in mainstream politics appears to be to turn pollution and the environment into a commodity.

    Well, that's one way of doing it. But that solution is theoretically identical in its effects to a simple tax; the difference is primarily distributional (who pays, who benefits). In the imperfect world, there are also questions of certainty of price vs certainty of the reduction in pollution, which seem to be rather more important in practice.

    As for the whole approach, a market is simply a tool. Regulations, taxes, and bottle openers are also tools; the question is really what works best for a particular problem. In this case, markets seem to be a very useful tool for targeting large point sources of emissions - power stations and factories - and have the added bonus that they create vested interests who will then resist any attempt to roll the policy back (wheras noone will defend a regulatory approach).

  2. Might not be your cups of tea, but two "groups of resistance" I'm involved with have done '06 reviews:

    Trans-tasman anti-fascist collective Fight Dem Back's is available at http://www.fightdemback.org/2007/01/02/there-goes-2006/

    Save Happy Valley Coalition's is at http://anarchia.wordpress.com/2007/01/06/save-happy-valley-the-year-in-review/