Friday, November 26, 2010

Economist: Coping with climate change - buy an airconditioner!

The Economist writes about climate change in its leader (27 November):
"The best protection against global warming is global prosperity. Wealthier, healthier people are better able to deal with higher food prices, or invest in new farming techniques, or move to another city or country, than the poor ones are. Richer economies rely less on agriculture which is vulnerable to climate change, and more on industries and services, which by and large are not. Richer people tend to work in air-conditioned buildings. Poor ones tend not to"

This is cynicism limiting to cruelty and reminds me of the alleged statement of Marie Antoinette when the starving people of France were demanding bread:"why don't they eat pastries instead" (I have reason to believe that she actually never said this, that it is fabricated statement, but we certainly have no problem imagine that she could have said it). Admittedly there are some other parts of the Economist leader that shows a bit more insight (but that wouldn't make such a nice case).

Exactly because rich people work in air-conditioned buildings they are causing global warming. To have more people working in air-conditioned buildings are really the last recipe we need for dealing with global warming. All since the Bruntland commission formulated the winning formula of "sustainable development" the myth that continued economic growth is not only good for all of us, but also the way to deal with environmental challenges has been spread by both industry and a growing sustainability industry in all shades. The worst shade is the greenwashing industry that churn out the same rubbish as they did before just adding a little sustainability component, such as recycled plastic, less emission or not even that; some nonsense "environmental certification". I am myself part of a more benign species of the sustainability industry. Nevertheless the idea that we can basically continue as we do, just tweak the technology a bit is a true pie in the sky. And it is the same pie even if re-named to green economy or some other fad expression.

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