Sunday, October 20, 2019

Extinction Rebellion has some good ideas, but here is one mistake they, as well as so many others, make.

I've been hearing about something called Extinction Rebellion. Wants quicker action to reduce carbon emissions. Protests by blocking bridges and so forth. They blocked the Burrard Street Bridge a while back.

In my opinion, these people are making the same mistake that so many folks make. They focusing on changing the government. The problem is the people, not necessarily the government. Government is just part of the problem.

In Vancouver, BC they are trying to all but make cars extinct. If most people lived my lifestyle, Robert Ashworth, it could be done, but I don't think most people will give up their cars.

They'll get electric cars, maybe, if easily available. This group would be okay with that only if the electricity comes from green energy, I guess. They want to see big changes within 5 years. I'm a non driver. The bicycle is my main means of transportation and travel.

Extinction Rebellion calls for much less meat consumption, car free living and a lot of other big changes in people's lives.

One of their main proposals calls for a reform of government by creating something called a "Citizens' Assembly." That could be like a house of Parliament (in Canada) or Congress (in USA) I guess. I do think that's a good idea, but it would not necessarily get us to significant reduction in carbon emissions.

What a Citizens' Assembly would be (as I understand) is a body of citizens randomly picked; like in serving on a jury. It would better represent the population than an elected body in some ways. These days, elected bodies are basically only made up of wealthy people who can afford the publicity to have name recognition to get elected. Money rules. A citizen Assembly would be picked by random lottery. Even so called nobodies; such as farmers, custodians, scientists and so forth could serve in the body.

I find this idea intriguing as a way to reform government and reduce the power of money in government. One body could be chosen this way while the other houses of government could still be elected. It would give more kinds of people voice in the government. Not just the politicians who can win the popularity / name recognition contest of being elected. These days, money has pretty much warped the election process except maybe at the local level. It just takes so much money to get on'e name out there, in most cases.

Adding a Citizens' Assembly might be a good idea, but it wouldn't necessarily get us to quick a ending of carbon emissions. A Citizens' Assembly would still be made up of people. The big problem with our carbon addiction is the people and our cultures. The government is mostly just a reflection of what the average person still wants to have. Most people aren't likely to support policies leading to things like giving up their cars within 5 years.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Do we still need to keep ramping up product production, or isn't there a more up to date economic strategy?

Trickle down economics keeps getting discredited, but somehow it persists. It gained lots of traction during my college years when inflation was rampant. Prices were going up for lots of commodities and products such as gasoline. There was some attempt to have price controls, but that often led to shortages. There were the gas lines of the 1970's. Some economists thought, if you help the producers, give them tax breaks and so forth, there would be more supply and lower prices.

Thus what I think Supply Side Economics is about? Question mark here as, admittedly, trying to read up on that subject causes my eyes to gloss over.

We face a very different situation now. Here in the US, we are awash in cheap products. There is usually lots of supply. There isn't the "Energy crisis" like in the 1970's. We've basically fracked (oil fracking) our way out of that. Today's problems are a bit different. It's been getting harder to afford a place on this planet that one can call home. Ramping up factory production, or oil drilling, isn't going to create more place for people on this planet. Better planning might, however. Density, transit and so forth; in the places where the jobs are and the people want to live.

We also have the cost problems associated with income discrepancy. Large segments of the population that can't afford the services provided by high income professionals such as medical services and insurance services. Education is effected by this also; for instance the high cost of college administrators. Giving more money to the wealthy isn't going to help here.

In my college years, I heard it said that giving money to consumers would just increase demand and push prices up farther, or lead to shortages. That thinking might work for gasoline, but not necessarily for all parts of the economy.

Today, I hear economists, such as Paul Krugman, talk about the need to stimulate demand for things we need; like building green infrastructure.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

As Greta Thunberg shamed them, they cheered even though many got to the UN by jet. Surrealistic.

It was surrealistic when young climate activist Greta Thunberg gave her speech before the UN. She was shaming the people as in how dare you. Shame on you and they cheered. Many in that audience arrived by jet plane.

There is kind of a disconnect between what people say has to happen and the lives of most folks being business as usual. This disconnect contributes to climate anxiety.

Making the needed changes is possible, but challenging. Here are some of the challenges.

Reducing the carbon footprint as world population continues to grow. Expected to level off at around 10 billion people; 3 billion more than currently alive. More people needing places to live, jobs and so forth.

Much of the Third World has been, and still is rapidly rising out of poverty. Good news in many ways, but challenging when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint. More people driving cars and so forth.

Countries, such as Japan have shut down nuclear power plants which has led to an uptick in power coming from fossil fuels. It may be even harder to reduce dependency on fossil fuels if we decommission nuclear energy at the same time. Nuclear is a large source of non intermittent power. Solar and wind energy is best, but these are intermittent sources; meaning they only work when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. The technology of battery and power grid distribution still needs improvement.

Significant reduction in the carbon footprint is doable, but it will require many changes in the way business and governments work, also changes in people's lifestyles, expectations and voting patterns. We also may have to rely on things like carbon sequestration and even geoengineering; meaning artificially reflecting some sunlight away from Earth.

How quickly we have to make big changes is up to debate, I think. According to Greta, pretty much right away; like in the next decade. That's anxiety producing, in itself. As for what the scientists say, that's a bit less clear. We do have a problem, but how quickly we have to solve it doesn't seem like the slam dunk; so to speak.