The Biden Plan: a growth initiative borne of capitalist desperation
Climate change is "in the news" now. I really don't know why. Weren't the news-makers, the stenographers of power, all better off denying it until it kills them? You know, like the people who put up signs next to devastation zones saying "climate change is a hoax"? I live near people like this. Here's a thought: go to a factory farm, and tell the animals they're all going to be slaughtered. Would this knowledge do them any good?
No journalist on a salary wants to admit the truth: a few shreds of human life left the coming era of climate change will be preserved, maybe, if we jettison the capitalist system and try for something more cooperative. This can be accomplished at any time, the main question being one of how much we want to save. At any rate, if the planet is burned to a crisp and there's a resultant famine, the journalists won't be able to eat their money. And they're certainly not going to Mars with Elon Musk's money. So, everyone endorses infinite economic expansion on a finite planet undergoing climate change. Here we go, kids!
It isn't really a matter of "we only have so much time." Well, a lot of people only have so much time, but those who have heard the alarms sounding for quite some time now have found some sort of safe space to wait it out until those who are busy dying are finished. Rather, the strategy to be pursued is one of saying "jettison capitalism" until someone who's listening finally asks, "how?" First, before it happens, we have to want it.
Time Magazine has a big spread on the climate now. Justin Worland's headline article is about "the pandemic remade the economy. Now, it's the climate's turn." Biden's jobs plan y'know. Rolling Stone magazine had a big spread on the climate last month -- yep, Biden's jobs plan. Recently it's come out: the Biden plan involves Da Nookz. Now, notwithstanding the fact that my Mom's Dad died of the side-effects of radiation from the Hanford Nuclear Facility when I was three years old, there are some reasons why the interest in nuclear power isn't really about sustainability. But to add something to the six reasons listed:
1. The problem with uranium, apparently, is that the great preponderance of uranium ores are low-grade, meaning that a whole lot of environmental destruction has to happen for the sake of not a whole lot of uranium. (And if thorium were the solution, they'd be doing a lot more of it now than they in fact are.)
2. When they say nuclear power is "carbon-free," they just cite the nuclear reaction itself. The stuff that makes the nuclear reaction possible is still based on fossil-burning. The whole idea is to supplement the fossil-burning -- but sssh! Don't tell!
3. Are you down with this?
4. This problem would be solved with socialist nuclear power -- but the socialism would have to be of a better variety than what they had in the Soviet Union.
5. And the pundits complain about basing the grid on solar power!
6. Has the waste problem actually gone away? I mean, not in the minds of theorists who discuss breeder reactors, but in actual practice?
At any rate, back to the topic at hand.
There are plenty of critiques of Biden's jobs plan as not enough. The best is that of Stan Cox. As Cox points out:
The only strategy, it seems, is to infuse the U.S. economy with trillions of dollars of funds for energy and other infrastructure, then hand the keys over to the corporate sector and wait for them to figure out how to wean the economy off of fossil fuels.
But the main motivation of the corporate sector is profit, and profit includes profits off of fossil fuel assets. So that won't work.
Cox also points out that Biden resides in the Land of Dicey Promises. An example:
Biden himself has noted that fossil-fueled power stations can be made ostensibly “carbon-free” by capturing exhaust from the smokestack, extracting almost all the CO2, and injecting it belowground. This has not actually been done in practice (except as a technique for extracting more oil, which does not reduce emissions), but just the idea of carbon burial has long enabled governments and utilities to formulate “net zero by year X” emissions targets.
When the new White House fact sheet on the climate plan tells us there are “multiple paths” to reaching “carbon free” electricity and other goals “while supporting a strong economy,” it’s not talking about eliminating fossil fuels; rather, it’s implicitly referring to reliance on gimmicks like carbon-capture schemes or forest-based offset programs. (Under the latter, landowners can simply refrain from cutting their trees and thereby earn carbon credits that they sell to utilities or other companies, which can use the credits as permits to keep burning fossil fuels. The result is an overall increase in emissions.) Electric utilities are counting on the continued federal laxity toward fossil energy as they make plans to build a staggering 235 new natural gas–fired power plants in coming years.
The Biden plan is the capitalist way of pretending to do something about climate change. The fact of the matter remains that actually doing something about climate change means, at a minimum, taking large portions of planet Earth out of the category of "assets," and the quicker and more thoroughly this is done, the better. It means creating a NOT-CAPITALIST infrastructure, an infrastructure guiding the entire economy into a managed degrowth pattern away from fossil fuels. It's going to look bad on their statistics: GDP won't rise, and the DJIA won't benefit. And this appears to be something Joe Biden won't do, and something Bernie Sanders won't push Joe Biden to do.
So it's time for a revolution.