It’s very cloudy outside here in Northern California. It’s dark too. The clouds are thick. We will almost certainly get a few sprinkles. And then it will be back into the 90s next week. I fully expect that California will be abandoned within 50 years. I’m also expecting the United States to invade Canada on this same time scale. For over a hundred years, the United States has had some of the best farm land in the world. But that land is moving north. On the plus side, we may have the perfect climate to grow blue agave and God knows we’ll likely need more Tequila than we have previously.
What’s interesting about global warming is that the Unite States has always had the most to lose from it. Yet more than any country, we have stood in the way of doing anything about it. Sure: there are other countries that are against it, but if the United States had been on board, it wouldn’t have mattered. We had that kind of power. We still do. But we won’t for long. Rule number one for the Price: keep your army well fed! That’s going to get harder and harder.
Naomi Klein has a new book out, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate. I haven’t read it yet. But Joe Romm has a brief introduction to it at Think Progress, This Changes Everything: Naomi Klein Is Right, Unchecked Capitalism Will Destroy Civilization. He summarizes the book as making three points. First, because we’ve denied the problem for well over two decades, our options are much worse. Second, the choice is between the end of civilization and the end of capitalism as we have come to know it. And third, it would be “morally monstrous” to choose capitalism over civilization.
Note that neither Klein nor Romm are against capitalism itself — just the kind of capitalism that we have now: the kind of capitalism that is mostly mythical, that doesn’t produce anything, that claims that people are only free if one person can have as much wealth as the rest of the people in his country combined. But the sad thing is that it really doesn’t matter. In the United States especially, to question the absolute “free market” paper tablets that Ayn Rand provided us means that you are a Socialist! And the people who believe this — who are extremely powerful — would rather destroy civilization than to concede that markets, and by extension themselves, are not perfect.
As Mr Tolstoy told us, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Good civilizations are all alike because they managed to look out for their people and the long term interests of the state. But bad civilizations suck in their own ways. Why did the Roman Empire fall? Who cares! It tells us nothing about why the American Empire is falling. Our civilization is dying because we have allowed a small number of people to become too powerful. And they have developed a kind of philosophy that is destroying the civilization.
Apparently, Klein has some ideas on how we can save our civilization. And Romm notes that Americans are not too keen on capitalism anyway. He even quotes (Twice!) the evil wordsmith Frank Luntz saying that Americans think that capitalism is immoral. But am I really to believe that we are going to have a discussion of this? Back in 2012, the vast majority of Californians were in favor of GMO labeling of food — a reasonable law even if, like me, you have no problem with GMOs. But Monsanto came in and spent just $8 million in this very big television market and the law went down to a resounding defeat.
So as crops fail and property values decline, the people will be upset. But the power elites will be there to make them understand that this is better than the alternative, Socialism! And anyway, global warming will cause all kinds of strife all over the world. There will be any number of groups who are angry because they are starving to death. And our government will be able to label them terrorists. And everyone will agree: they’re the ones who are the problem.
As for the real problem, we will do what we always do: nothing.