In the not too distant future, our unrelenting use of fossil fuels is going to catch up with us.
This post collects my thoughts on the climate crisis, concluding that much of it is caused by the desperate need to cling to privilege, coupled with false economics. It also provides links to a few of my interviews where some of these topics are discussed.
Collectively, we are a suicidal species.
(The image at the top of this post is a tweet by a Ph.D. climate scientist at NASA. )
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Disclaimer: I have studied MMT since February of 2018. I’m not an economist or academic and I don’t speak for the MMT project. The information in this post is my best understanding but I don’t assert it to be perfectly accurate. In order to ensure accuracy, you should rely on the expert sources linked throughout. If you have feedback to improve this post, please get in touch.
In the not too distant future, our unrelenting use of fossil fuels is going to catch up with us. Our current privilege of comfortable homes and cars and “affordable” healthcare will soon be replaced with the “privilege” of having potable water, edible food, and electricity in our homes – assuming we have a home at all. We resist looking at the problem because we can’t fathom losing our privilege. Which is guaranteeing that we will lose our privilege in a dramatic and messy fashion.
Even though our leaders are killing us, we don’t push them because we can’t envision life without our privilege. We especially don’t want to hear how our privilege is killing people. Here’s our not-Trump-President on November 1st, 2021, in an article titled “Biden: OPEC And Russia Must Pump More Oil To Help America’s Working Class“:
“On the surface, it seems like an irony,” Biden said, referring to his call on OPEC+ to add more oil production while heading for COP26 to discuss the reduction of global emissions. “But the truth of the matter is … everyone knows that idea that we’re going to be able to move to renewable energy overnight … it’s just not rational.”
(With thanks to Warren Mosler for the quote. And regarding Biden’s saying he wants to pump more oil “To Help America’s Working Class”: He might as well say, “We need to ensure America’s working class goes literally extinct in order To Help America’s Working Class.”)
We watch news of, by, and for the rich so we can pretend to care about the suffering of the poor, but don’t really have to see the suffering of the poor. We use “but we can’t afford four more years of Trump” as a perpetual distraction from looking deeper or demanding better. (We also use this as an excuse to discriminate against those who do demand better than the lesser of two evils.)
We latch onto false economics to justify depriving the poor, because not depriving the poor would (supposedly) mean that I and my privilege would be taxed out of existence. So, we love the idea of healthcare for all, and the idea that our politicians “fight for it”. But when they don’t actually do anything to make it happen, we look the other way. Yet we love them because they’re always “fighting for healthcare”! (Here’s my March 2020 conversation with Geoff Ginter about how this relates to the super nice Democratic Representative of New Jersey’s third Congressional district, Andy Kim.)
In reality, we neglect more and more at the bottom, not realizing how the pile of neglected people is growing faster and faster, and will inevitably consume us.
Think of the world as a cruise ship. There rich on top in their opulent first-class staterooms, the poor are at the bottom in steerage, and the rest in the middle with their relative second-class privilege. Steerage has already taken on water, but the screams are not heard from above. I’m order to prevent the entire ship from sinking, we must patch the hole in steerage.
As a species, we have made a debt. We will be paying that debt. It’s just a question of when, how, and with what. Whatever the case, it almost certainly won’t be paid with money. (I discussed this concept with Andrew Chirgwin in June of 2021.)
Helping the poor is not just a virtue. It’s not just “the right thing to do” – it’s critical to saving our species. Here is my interview with RamonaMassachi, episode 97, called “We are in this together, whether we like it or not.”
I am unabashedly optimistic about what’s possible. MMT makes it clear a better world is possible by merely choosing to make it better. I am darkly cynical about the chances that we as a collective will actually choose any of those things.
The rich have deceived us into voluntarily killing ourselves. Enjoy your second class amenities while you still can, because soon enough, the waterline is going to reach our staterooms.
For those interested in choosing differently, learn #MMT.
Postscript: Some other notes
According to a PhD in physics, our consumption of meat is also a major problem.