Time for another punch up in the series on the kayfabe of good ideas. In my last write-up, I wanted to address how our political polarization squeezed out any possibilities of having a common sense conversation on the Covid-19 vaccine. Since my last post, there is now a bill in California that is proposing doctors lose their licenses if what they say on Covid-19 treatment turns out to be misleading by state (/pharmaceutical) standards. Thus far, this applies only to information on the Covid-19 and no other infections. I do not wish to be a bad news bear on the next topic but here we go: CLIMATE… CHANGE?
Okay hear me out. We have had a series of hurricanes and typhoons in the last decade that have made it clear to us that certain coastlines are living on borrowed time. And every year we hear the same story. “Take climate change seriously. Go solar. Go electric. Oil is the devil.”
I would list the different hurricanes from Ian to Katrina in reverse chronology but I am not trying to impress you with timelines because my basic point is that we are OUT of time. Now, is climate change happening? Yes. Is global warming a thing? Yes. Are the polar ice caps melting? Yes. However, can we reverse rate of global warming that will alter the current rising sea levels? …….
My guess is, NO! Much of the European Union, South America and the North America have been regulating carbon emissions for the last two decades. Of course the bulk of the emissions comes from the industrialized countries so almost all the progress made by EU and North America have been countered by the heavy industrialization in China and South Asia, the most densely populated area of the planet. As the backbone of global manufacturing, this part of the world has seen an impressive increase in output. What might that have done for carbon emissions?
The other side of the coin is modern civilization able to sustain an energy grid purely on solar, wind and nuclear? Have the northern countries found a more available option to heating in winter other than coal and gas? What about the manufacturing of the items needed to capture solar, wind and nuclear. What is the true cost of maintaining supply for the rest of teh world and can that be done readily and sustainably in order to reduce carbon footprint in time to avert supposed disaster? But if we want to talk common sense in a world which continually uses political polarization in the face of basic world problems, there is another obvious solution.
Moving. Why are we not talking about moving? Clearly, we will not be able to reverse climate change in time to stop the current rising sea levels. For some reason, from the teenager scolding world leaders at the G20 summit to the millenial US democratic senators scolding the boomers over their oil lobbies, it is clear our democracy is not dropping the sea levels. The current budget for FEMA stands at about $14.2B. What is the cost of the damages for the most recent Hurricane Ian? Somewhere between $41bn – $70bn. Mind you the FEMA budget covers the entire nation while the damage cost was only in certain areas of the country. Also, the rescue budget does not cover restoration so ultimately we are at a loss. With a recession on the horizon, how much can the insurance companies cover? If we continue the current occupancy in the coastal cities that are on the path to becoming the new ocean floor, we may need to rename these regions; The coastal black hole.
My question remains. What is the cost of moving the populations that are most at risk of having plankton as their house guests? I honestly do not know. However, economics revolves around continuity. People alive means opportunity. It means people get another chance to generate more economic activity. Thus moving people would more like an investment. Let me correct that: moving people is the ultimate investment. Spending money to fix parts of the country that are likely to succumb to hurricanes in the near future is a waste of capital. This may sound like an archaic concept but governments are supposed to help solve problems not use them as bait for their electoral campaigns. And if we go into the role of industry or “capitalism” we can also address the importance of solving problems. One of the most common statements you would hear from billionaires who care to share their views on how to the build wealth, the expression “solve a problem” usually pops up. Clearly we have an opportunity both in government and in industry. We are either going to solve this by building anew or keep the barrage of false promise that we can afford to reverse nature when we are clearly running out of time.
by Julian Michael Yong