Climate change mitigation again: California this time
The climate disasters are coming, and there probably won't be a lot of traction for the next four years because the Democrats all got behind Clinton (who wasn't going to do anything besides propose an overelaborated and useless sop to the fossil fuel companies anyway). Well that's politics anyway; if you can be a reality TV star you can now be President, and so democracy now selects for the obtuse. Anyone with half a brain who stands up to say "hey I should be the front personality for the elites!" will win an election these days, whereas those individuals intelligently focused upon an efficacious transition to a better world will just be seen by the gatekeepers as getting in the way. Remember Ronald "I have Alzheimer's disease but I'm President anyway" Reagan? This is the bigger trend that needs to be changed.
I'd imagine that if it's taken this long to produce the current dilemma it's going to take awhile to get out of it. So maybe in four years the collective sense of urgency will catch up with the political classes. Anything's possible I suppose. We must be relentless however in our opposition to the fossil fuel industries and their toxic product.
So here in a piece by Nathanael Johnson in Grist we can read about Jerry Brown, California's sellout governor, saying "let's ban gasoline-powered cars." The primary flaw of "climate activists" is that they tend to react with thunderous applause when anyone in the political class mentions that there's actually a problem and something should be done about it, whereas behind the scenes the capitalists with the real power are still basking comfortably in the knowledge that nobody in the political class is going to propose an effective solution, which would necessarily infringe upon their privileges and power. If the "climate activists" are to be both intelligent and efficacious, they need to produce discomfort in this behind-the-scenes reality.
At any rate, Nathanael Johnson, who is no doubt one of the breathless naifs staffing Grist, tells us:
China is planning to set a deadline by which its automakers must end production of fossil fuel–powered cars. If California did something similar, it would trigger a cascade of changes in the automotive world.
Or maybe the fossil-fuel-car companies would just shift the sales of their product to another market, and the price of electric cars would go up with increased demand. So here we are still trapped in misrecognition.
There are four things to be distinguished if there is to be any solution to any problem:
1) Recognizing that there is a problem
2) Recognizing that something effective needs to be done about the problem
3) Doing something about the problem
4) Doing something effective about the problem
Political solutions are of course only to be found in step number 4, and though steps 1, 2, and 3 might be steps we would applaud when we see members of the political class endorsing them, none of those steps in fact amount to step 4, and we should behave accordingly. With climate change mitigation we are still not at 4, and the proposed confusion with Brown's "solution" is still between 3 and 4. (For the record, Hillary Clinton, as a Presidential candidate, was stuck on the misrecognition between 1 and 2, as her "program" was still based on the coddling of fossil fuel companies.) With a California attempt to switch to electric cars, we are still at the point of watching states "ban" an old product, with the presumption that the "free market" will suddenly provide everyone with the new product at some sort of affordable price. Given the urgency of climate change mitigation, it behooves us not to trust the "free market" to provide any sort of solution to the climate change problem.
The state, then, should not be in the business of begging the car companies to put out enough electric cars to satisfy a demand it created. And if the range of acceptable proposals is limited to those which trust the "free market" (ultimately, if not entirely) to solve the problem, then the entire cost of converting the fossil-fuel-vehicle infrastructure to something better will be passed on to the purchasers of electric vehicles (or any other alternative-energy consumer product one cares to name), who will subsequently not be able to afford it. Here's a more effective proposal:
1) have the government start a car company, which produces vehicles of all sorts.
2) give everyone a chance to trade in old vehicles for new electric ones, free of charge.
3) at some point the gas pumps are shut off by state decree.
We can, I believe, be encouraged that increasing numbers of people now want to do something about climate change, while also recognizing that the big step, the only step that ultimately matters, is that of doing something effective about climate change.