How did I miss THIS? What was I doing on November 29th? Rachel and I have been lone voices in the climate wilderness that expressed doubts about Bill McKibben’s battle plan from his Do the Math tour. Nothing against Bill McKibben, who is rightfully revered in this movement, but it’s our planet too, and if we feel like his big plan will fall short, we feel compelled to differ.
Apparently Chris Parenti feels the same way. In this excellent article Parenti points out serious flaws in McKibben’s plan, but also comes up with a very impressive plan of his own. First of all, he points out that in the Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency decision, the laws are already in place to start fixing the problem immediately. President Obama’s EPA is sitting on 30 rules it must issue as a result of that decision. As Parenti points out, “the (climate) movement has not pressured for action on this front.” (Note to Chris Parenti: we weren’t even aware of said decision, but, as part of the movement, the Pissed-Off Polar Bears will see what we can do to pressure for action.)
Parenti continues: “Another tool that the government could use is to reorient government procurement away from fossil fuel energy, toward clean energy and technology -- to use the government's vast spending power to create a market for green energy. After all, the government didn't just fund the invention of the microprocessor; it was also the first major consumer of the device. For most of its first three decades of activity, IBM-- which lead the creation of computers -- got more than half of its business from federal contracts.‘In other words, government consumption (not just its R&D investment) is a powerful force that has created whole markets and new technologies.
“Elsewhere I have called this strategy the Big Green Buy. Consider this: Altogether federal, state and local government ("total government expenditures") constitute more than 38 percent of our GDP….
“A redirection of government purchasing toward wind, solar power, etc., plus robust action by the EPA - that is, imposition of a de facto carbon tax (if you emit too much you pay a fine) -- would create massive markets for clean power, electric vehicles and efficient buildings, and would simultaneously drive private investment toward that market.
“This strategy -- call it cap and buy -- could and should happen at the state and local level as well. I hope that 350 campaigners and others will add these ideas to their strategy. Activists can pressure their universities, churches and towns, as well as their state and local governments to buy clean power and electric vehicles, retrofit buildings for efficiency, and pressure the federal government to allow the EPA to do its job and enforce the clean air act, very vigorously.
“Let's be honest. The only force on earth that can really control Exxon is the U.S. government.”
Well done, Chris Parenti.