Environment Yet more news from the apocalypse February 2, 2020 John Quiggin13 Comments Estimating the cost of the bushfires, on ABC The Money Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... Related
13 thoughts on “Yet more news from the apocalypse”
Very sobering. And now Chinese tourists, who apparently weren’t put off by the fires, can’t come because of the coronavirus. It’s not going to be a good summer tourist season.
Anyway, here’s some light relief. Since this blog skews old, I think most people will get the attribution.
The Hunter Valley has estimated a $42M loss over 3 months, smoke tainted grapes and cancellations due to fire.
@Smith9, I even read the comic strip before the film came out.
On the issue of tourism… Tourism will become an indulgence that people cannot afford and indeed an indulgence that the environment cannot support. Any person or country that bases their finances or national economy on tourism is riding for an even harder fall in the future. Tourism will collapse well before countries and regions collapse. If you base your economy in considerable part on tourism, this is a recipe for national insecurity and collapse.
The high carbon costs of tourism indicate that international tourism would (and ought to be) priced largely out of existence by realistic carbon prices: prices set at a level that would rapidly reduce CO2 emissions to zero.
It is strange to me that so many people can’t see the contradiction in promoting tourism, and bemoaning its recent drop, when we are clearly so close to runaway catastrophic climate change. Tourism is sunning on the sun-deck while the resort burns down around you.
It was only a few years ago people were calling me a catastrophist and alarmist. Now, they have finally caught up to my position and are smelling the ashes. Next, our society needs to accept that our economy must be revolutionized rapidly and profoundly from self-indulgence and over-consumption to targeted, statist measures directly addressing our real problems. This cannot happen under capitalism. It is the wrong command and control mechanism for the task. Make no mistake, capitalism is still a command and control system. It’s simply that the commands and controls are exercised by a tiny minority or persons via their possession and use of money and finance capital power.
Capitalism cannot survive this crisis. It’s “look ahead” decision algorithms are wrong for the task. They are posited on endless growth, itself an impossibility. They are posited on win-lose self interest. Win-win becomes impossible in a non-growing economy. Something posited on a long-term (now near- term impossibilities) is ipso facto impossible to contionue.
“ our economy must be revolutionized rapidly and profoundly from self-indulgence and over-consumption to targeted, statist measures”
Stalin rang. He wants his 5 year plan 1928-1932 returned, please.
And you know what happens when you upset Uncle Joe.
But who remembers this?
I swear there was at least one more verse (‘If you know some Libs and really want to hit them/Introduce them to Edward Gough Whitlam’), but searching Youtube won’t produce it for me. This clip seems to be from a retrospective, but I think my memory is going back to the original. (Ah, how young was I then? Now you know something about what kind of household I grew up in.)
I am reminded of the episode of Yes, Prime Minister in which Humphrey Appleby tells Jim Hacker that the Defence Department knows what would need to be done to defend the UK against the USSR. Jim is a little surprised and asks whether such a defence would in fact be possible. Humphrey responds that of course it wouldn’t, but at least the Defence Department doesn’t have to do any more thinking about it.
(For ‘defend the UK against the USSR’ read ‘save ourselves’, and for ‘Defence Department’ read ‘Ikonoclast’.)
You do realize that the Western nations (as well as Russia) ran command economies to win WW2 don’t you? There was rationing, conscription and requisitioning. That is to say, in an existential (life or death) crisis for peoples and nations, a statist command economy is an absolute necessity and works best. The climate crisis is an existential crisis.
You do realize that post-war Japan used the statist MITI (Ministry of Technology and Industry) to catch up to Western industry. That France used a statist system to develop nuclear energy post-war and even Britain’s post-war reconstruction required ongoing rationing.
It’s simply a fallacy that command systems never work. It’s also a fallacy that capitalist markets are efficient. They are not. If they were efficient and far-seeing they would have priced in future risks like climate change and environmental destruction. They did not. They failed completely and utterly to meet this challenge. If capitalism continues unfettered it will destroy the biosphere, at least as a place where humans can live.
A modern command economy in a genuine democracy and scientifically literate society would be vastly different from Stalinist, absolutist Russia. Modern information technology permits better data-gathering, assessment and look-ahead via algorithms based on science not finance and markets. The saying is old generals prepare for the last war not the next one. Old thinkers too cleave to old systems like 19th C prescriptive-mechanistic (classical / neoclassical) economics.
Those up with the times realize that capitalist economics is a formalist (formal numeraire) finite state machine trying to mange real, not formal, quantities in an open-ended, complex systems world characterized by emergence and evolution. People who still believe in capitalism are like people who still believe in magic when they are confronted by the scientific refutation of their beliefs… completely uncomprehending. Such a generation must pass away. A new generation sees matters far more clearly. Greta Thunberg is already more intelligently adapted to our new reality than every conservative man on the planet.
Look no further than China, where the state commands the economy, and the country is responsible for 30% of the world’s carbon emissions. As for “modern command economy in a genuine democracy and scientifically literate society”, that was suggested as an exhibit at Disneyland, but they rejected it as a too big a fantasy.
there might only be one person alive who can answer your question, Phillip Adams, who was in the episode of TDT when that song was played. He was a judge of a slogan contest commemorating Gough’s first year (and he was also the producer of Barry McKenzie.)
Certainly the old Stalinist and Maoist systems polluted like there was no tomorrow. One reason is that they were state capitalist systems, not socialist systems at all. Now China has become a State Party-Crony capitalist system it pollutes even more. Go figure!
What is fantasy is the belief that capitalism is a perpetual motion machine which can grow indefinitely in a finite world. Disneyland is the perfect example of what we can’t afford any more, environmentally and socially speaking. Yet capitalism’s algorithms and heuristics say “Build more Disneylands, more cruise ships, more caravans. Waste more precious resources on pointless kitsch, polluting glitz and ersatz experiences.”
I am always astonished that people can enjoy and promote such a world. But they enjoy it and promote because they don’t understand the terrifying costs and the fact that these real costs are arriving now.
On the issue of tourism, as per @ Ikonoclast, recently there was this character from a tourism company talking about how fires has impacted his business. He said that despite many areas not being impacted by fires, they were getting cancellations from foreign tourists.
During the chat he offered his opinion (I’m no expert but….) that being, to decrease fires you have to increase hazard reduction burns.
He didn’t mention the dryness and heat, which clearly are attributed to climate change. My guess is that tourism, particularly long haul international, is heavily reliant on fossil fuels and he just didn’t want to go there.
So when comparing employment numbers of tourism with coal mining, its fair to say that both are ultimately reliant on fossil fuels.