plantedcity asked: Hi, I saw your response to my post about the need to #endfossilfuelsubsidies and felt compelled to respond. I think there may be two things that you are overlooking. First, as David Roberts at Grist writes clearly, "Climate change is simple: We do something or we’re screwed." That includes ending preferential treatment for climate detabilizing fossil fuels over clean energy. Second, we need to phase out subsidies, not turn them off this afternoon. Cheers, plantedcity.
I fully agree, and I had both of your points in mind when I wrote my response. The reason I didn’t mention phasing subsidies out over time is that there’s still a tradeoff between social crisis and environmental crisis. That is to say, either subsidies be phased out over a lengthy enough period of time that there are no significant social repercussions (by which time the environment would already be irreparably damaged), or politicians commit PR suicide by allowing an economic crisis to take place.
I should point out that the purpose of my response was to outline how #endfossilfuelsubsidies is not framed in a way that will be taken seriously by politicians; that is, it was meant to be descriptive rather than prescriptive. (I’m personally very much in favor of reducing fossil fuel subsidies, but it’s just not feasible without an alternative energy source with high energy return on investment.)
I am very concerned about the environment, but I can’t help but think that politicians are not going to take any significant action until a major crisis happens, and that therefore any sort of protest should stay within the boundaries of realpolitik (e.g. campaigning for better public transit so as to soften the inevitable blow from triple-digit oil prices).
As things stand, I’m inclined to agree with the thesis of Bill McKibben’s Eaarth, that we already live on a qualitatively different planet from the one on which our civilization was built, and that there are definitely going to be casualties (coral reefs, for instance) in the absence of a global environmental revolution. Rio+20 is probably the last chance to avoid such casualties, and that’s why I really appreciate the info from your site, which is infinitely better than the vacuous tripe on the UN site.