Friday, June 07, 2019

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Justin Fisher laments the fact that we're still talking about first steps toward combating a climate crisis after decades of understanding the problem. Jake Woodier points out that Brexit has been the UK's recent distraction from the most important issue facing humanity. And Joseph Stiglitz is the latest to compare a Green New Deal to avert climate breakdown with the scale and urgency of a wartime mobilization:
When the US was attacked during the second world war no one asked, “Can we afford to fight the war?” It was an existential matter. We could not afford not to fight it. The same goes for the climate crisis. Here, we are already experiencing the direct costs of ignoring the issue – in recent years the country has lost almost 2% of GDP in weather-related disasters, which include floods, hurricanes, and forest fires. The cost to our health from climate-related diseases is just being tabulated, but it, too, will run into the tens of billions of dollars – not to mention the as-yet-uncounted number of lives lost. We will pay for climate breakdown one way or another, so it makes sense to spend money now to reduce emissions rather than wait until later to pay a lot more for the consequences – not just from weather but also from rising sea levels. It’s a cliche, but it’s true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The war on the climate emergency, if correctly waged, would actually be good for the economy – just as the second world war set the stage for America’s golden economic era , with the fastest rate of growth in its history amidst shared prosperity. The Green New Deal would stimulate demand, ensuring that all available resources were used; and the transition to the green economy would likely usher in a new boom. Trump’s focus on the industries of the past, like coal, is strangling the much more sensible move to wind and solar power. More jobs by far will be created in renewable energy than will be lost in coal.
The mobilization efforts of the second world war transformed our society. We went from an agricultural economy and a largely rural society to a manufacturing economy and a largely urban society. The temporary liberation of women as they entered the labor force so the country could meet its war needs had long-term effects. This is the advocates’ ambition, a not unrealistic one, for the Green New Deal.

There is absolutely no reason the innovative and green economy of the 21st century has to follow the economic and social models of the 20th-century manufacturing economy based on fossil fuels, just as there was no reason that that economy had to follow the economic and social models of the agrarian and rural economies of earlier centuries.
- But if we needed a reminder of the ease with which serious dangers to the public get ignored or forgotten, Benjamin Kentish notes that tens of thousands of Britons still live in buildings covered in the same material which caused the spread of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire.

- Rafferty Baker reports on research showing how harm reduction steps are reducing the still-alarming number of deaths caused by opioids. And Barbara Krantz points out that as serious as the opioid crisis is, far more people die due to alcohol - even as Canada's right makes it a core policy to try to push people to drink more.

- Trade Justice Network Canada discusses how the new NAFTA is anything but progressive - no matter what talking points the Trudeau Libs use in trying to push it through.

- And finally, Paul Romer suggests that a tax on targeted advertising could both raise revenue, and reduce the amount of user tracking that contributes to hidden dangers online.

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