Book review: Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, Climate of Hope

The subtitle of this book is "How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet." Okay so why am I reviewing a book that was published in 2017? Mostly it's because with the ascension of Bernie Sanders' second campaign, the elites are getting desperate. And so Michael Bloomberg to the rescue!

As for the elites, they don't want the Sanders political revolution, and they're desperate for another Barack Obama who will steal Sanders' thunder while planning post-election to give the store away to the Republicans once again. Joe Biden is not much of a campaigner, Kamala Harris' staff is in revolt, one of Cory Booker's PACs is shutting down, Pete Buttigieg is looking like a white people's candidate, Elizabeth Warren is nosediving, and so on. So it's going to be Michael Bloomberg, the Elite White Hope Du Jour.

Bloomberg, interestingly enough, wrote a book on climate change, with a Big Green careerist, Carl Pope. So let's take a look at it; you'll want to know what it has, especially if Bloomberg is anointed President.

At any rate, the authors alternate chapters, with the headings telling you who wrote what. The preface sets a tone:

Instead of debating long-term consequences, let's talk about immediate threats. Instead of arguing about making sacrifices, let's talk about how we could make money. Instead of putting the environment versus the economy, let's consider market principles and economic growth. Instead of focusing on polar bears, let's focus upon asthmatic children. And instead of putting all hope in the federal government, let's empower cities, regions, businesses, and citizens to accelerate the progress they are already making on their own. (3)

Here Bloomberg and Pope illustrate what is most challenging about the neoliberal, "environmental accounting," approach. Just to be clear: the idea of an "environmental accounting" approach is to hand out merit badges for Boy Scout or Girl Scout deeds, and hope that with enough merit badges the problem will go away. Nowhere in the "environmental accounting" approach is it mentioned that climate change mitigation will require that the trends that identify climate change be reversed. Producing less oil, for instance, means that some agencies must be out there forcing those who produce oil to stop producing oil. Neither Bloomberg nor Pope is advocating this.

We might also be wary of claims of "progress they are already making." As long as fossil-fuel production increases each year, no progress is being made anywhere.

We should be wary, moreover, of approaches tailor-made for political convenience. To a politician, for instance, "immediate threats" are photo-opportunities. Long-term consequences, however, are what matters to anyone who is serious about climate change mitigation, because today's fossil-fuel burning only shows up as climate change a decade or two down the line. Climate operates on delayed feedback -- old climate patterns will continue to assert themselves until there is enough of a change to change the old patterns. And then you see it!

The first chapter appears to be about Carl Pope being "anti-coal." Which is fine -- be anti-coal. I'm sure there's some other way of ruining things.

The second chapter is about Bloomberg's PlaNYC, an environmental initiative he advocated when he was mayor of NYC. It focused upon alternative energy and energy efficiency, all fine and good. Too bad it doesn't amount to climate change mitigation in any real, physical way.

The third and fourth chapters are descriptions of "the problem." This is also fine and well. Deniers suck.

The fifth and sixth chapters are about "coal to clean energy." It's funny that the authors' notion of "clean energy" includes "natural gas," i.e. methane, with a vast ability to heat global climate in a short period of time.

Chapter seven, written by Bloomberg, is about refitting buildings so that they run on alternative energy and are more energy-efficient. The following quote should give you an example of the scope of Bloomberg's ambition:

At Bloomberg, we have saved about $40 million over the past decade by reducing the emissions of our operations and information systems by nearly half. And, between our wind and solar investments, we obtain 23 percent of our electricity from renewable sources. By 2020, we aim to reach 35 percent, with a goal of becoming 100 percent renewable by 2025.

This is all fine and well, but why they are waiting until 2025 to go to 100 percent is a puzzle.

Chapter eight, written by Pope, is about promoting organic agriculture. So what if the mayor of New York were to convert the whole city into an organic garden? This isn't suggested. Guess they'll have to continue to have their food trucked in from California.

Chapter nine is about bicycle cities. Also fine and good.

Chapter ten is about making it easier for people to buy electric cars. But here's an idea -- how about offering everyone a trade-in, fossil-burning for electric, free of charge? Not mentioned here. Once again, the reliance on "private enterprise" means less mitigation over time.

Chapters eleven and twelve are about "cool capitalism." Pope's chapter is about a carbon tax -- something I've critiqued elsewhere -- and chapter twelve is Michael Bloomberg tying himself in knots trying to show that a transition to a sustainable society will somehow magically be profitable.

The last portion of this book, chapters thirteen and fourteen, is about adapting. The Pope chapter is about planting trees and restoring wetlands; the Bloomberg chapter is about urban planning for natural disasters.

Generally, in sum, the Bloomberg and Pope proposals are nice. But they rely upon a too-little, too-late approach because they are concerned about offering a soothing voice to rich investors. Capitalism is in crisis, and climate change will amplify the compounded disasters that will wipe it out. The big questions are 1) whether or not people can be persuaded that tomorrow will be nothing like what yesterday was, and 2) can people really imagine tomorrow differently. Already reality warrants installing Bernie Sanders as our next President, which should show everyone how weird it's gotten. There is no inherent reason why planet Earth has to be a livable place, and so it is up to us to keep it from becoming unlivable. As a manual for that, Climate of Hope is tame and inadequate.

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Takes a billionaire to see gold in earths destruction.
Thanks for the review!

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

snoopydawg's picture

Michael Bloomberg tying himself in knots trying to show that a transition to a sustainable society will somehow magically be profitable.

Is the green new deal just a way for corporate to suck more money from us on dealing with climate change? I'm seeing lots of information saying just that and to be wary. Not many people are addressing the military conflicts everywhere that is causing lots of damage to the environment.

Another thing someone floated today is that Bloomberg might run third party just to derail Bernie. The never Bernie's might just vote for Bloomberg to keep Bernie from winning. BTW. John Delaney is still running. What a dweeb.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Situational Lefty's picture

are just throwing out as many options as they can into the field of candidates to make sure Bernie, Tulsi or Warren doesn't win the nomination. At this point, they're desperate.

Bloomberg is a joke.

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"He is the truest friend; he has the farthest vision; he is the greatest man I have ever known." --Winston Churchill on Franklin Delano Roosevelt

edg's picture

Here we go again. From the Politico story: "Buttigieg has not made attempts to meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus through its campaign arm."

Yeah, just like Sanders didn't reach out to the Congressional Black Caucus, and Warren didn't reach out to Muslims, and Gabbard didn't reach out to Native Americans, and .............

But Biden, yeah, everybody loves them some Biden.

How dumb do they think we are?

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in 5th place according to one recent national poll, pulling 6%. That was fast. Large sums put into tv and internet ads are paying off.

And this Politico article on how he won NYC Mayor suggests it's wise not to underestimate him and how he is willing to spend considerable $$ to create support. He started late, switched parties from D to R (he had been D his whole life then changed solely for political advantage purposes in 2001), sucked up to Giuliani to get his tepid endorsement for the R nomination, was down 16 pts in the polls in the final weeks, then pulled off a narrow win vs D Mark Green who had only lukewarm minority voter support. All quite an accomplishment for a novice pol.

No, it would be foolish to write him off as just a joke. This guy could soon have a place on the debate stage and could be the person who is able to finally knock down Biden, which by itself is a welcome thing.

I don't however see him as having a Plan B as a 3d party nominee. I think he has entered the race to win, not to show well with a 3d party, and he detests Trump too much to make a move which would dilute the anti-Trump vote and hand Donald another 4 yrs.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@wokkamile we don't really have the on-the-ground news in states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Keep us apprised!

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"I was Zuckerberging people before Zuckerberg's balls dropped." -- the Devil, on "Rick and Morty"

@Cassiodorus @Cassiodorus intends to skip the first 4 primary states -- IA, NH, NV and SC -- and concentrate his resources on the delegate-rich medium-to-large states thereafter where big ad buys can make a difference. Makes some sense -- he's getting in too late to make a dent in the early states, and he's chosen to compete in the larger states where his ability to self-finance to a vast extent would come in real handy.

I do think he might be planning to get enough delegates to take it to a second ballot, at which point the Superdelegates kick in. And SDs, he must be thinking, if faced with a choice between lefty-socialist Bernie and him, would overwhelmingly prefer his safer political profile.

Btw, that Hill article cited below seems to be wrong on MB's prior political affiliation -- he was a D most of his life, not R as the piece states, and he is socially liberal enough in the overall to get the moderate or even center-left label, not conservative as the writer overstates.

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Lookout's picture

Bloomberg as usual is out of touch with regular working people. Unless the gig is rigged (not beyond the realm of possibility) Bloomberg doesn't stand a chance. Another out of touch billionaire. There is the possibility his entry into the race will help Bernie by siphoning off Biden voters. On the other hand he may aid Trump in re-election.

For most Democrats, rightly fixated on beating Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg’s campaign for President is about the last thing they need. The bitter irony is that Bloomberg, a mega-billionaire, lifelong Republican, and New York conservative, has no chance of actually winning this year’s populist-leaning Democratic nomination himself. But his candidacy holds a host of dangers for Democrats and could complicate their efforts to defeat Trump.

https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/472486-bloomberg-cant-win-but-he-co...

Virtually every political handicapper thinks Mr. Bloomberg will cut into Mr. Biden’s centrist support more than that of anyone else. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s operatives, who are backing Mr. Biden, were among those angered upon hearing the news. Their view is that the late Bloomberg entry puts up a big banner saying Mr. Biden doesn’t have it. It also deprives Mr. Biden of much-needed financial support from Wall Street where Mr. Bloomberg has so many friends.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-bloomberg-wont-win-the-n...

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Cassiodorus's picture

@Lookout I had no idea Bloomberg was already in such trouble. From reading his book I thought he was a reasonable guy if you discount the Internet discussion about "stop and frisk" and the neoliberal ideology which pervades everything about him.

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4 users have voted.

"I was Zuckerberging people before Zuckerberg's balls dropped." -- the Devil, on "Rick and Morty"

is dropping out of the race.

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@wokkamile @wokkamile
Another law and order type
not well enough endowed
embraced by the financiers.

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

snoopydawg's picture

@wokkamile

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Cassiodorus's picture

@wokkamile And one of them already jumped ship and is working for Bloomberg now.

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3 users have voted.

"I was Zuckerberging people before Zuckerberg's balls dropped." -- the Devil, on "Rick and Morty"

@Cassiodorus
The Kamel hair coat only lasted thru fall.
Guess the seer sucker suits and spats are next to go?

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

dystopian's picture

We can save the planet, but only if we can monetize that. Think of the profits! As long as one sees everything through profit colored glasses, they will remain blind.

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein