To put it another way: The primacy of economics has prevailed. It no longer seems to matter how we're supposed to get through the rest of this century if the world grows warmer by three, four or five degrees Celsius. National economies require an ever-growing dose of energy if their business models are to continue functioning, and, in the face of this logic, all scientific objections to the contrary are just as powerless as the climate protest movements, which are, in any case, marginal.And its rather depressing conclusion was to why the system will never solve its own problems:
At this point, we could act as if we've seen it all and argue that in the course of human history many cultures failed because they did not adapt their success strategies to new conditions. The Vikings left Greenland in part because they clung to animal husbandry despite practically having to carry their cows out to pasture in the spring, because the lack of winter feed had left the animals too weak to walk. The Vikings would have just needed to come up with the idea of eating fish instead, but to them that seemed as inconceivable as renouncing the idea of growth does to nations today. The Vikings believed they could not live without cows, just as we believe that a high quality of life rests on expansion.
The economy's refusal to set limits has set off a new race: that of which society in this world of limitless resource exploitation and unchecked pollution will be able to remain within its comfort zone the longest. Economically powerful societies will have a considerable head start over those who embraced capitalism later or have the misfortune of being located in the wrong part of the world or are so-called "failed states" who do not have legal protection for their citizens or obstacles to the appropriation of land, water and raw materials of all kinds. The late sociologist Lars Clausen spoke presciently of "failed globalization."
We have to assume that expansive strategies will intensify as scarcities increase -- and as these scarcities are economically desired. The scarcer a resource, the greater the unmet demand for it, and thus the higher the asking price. And the more the balance shifts to the disadvantage of the consumers, the more favorable the conditions become for the suppliers. Scarcity is thus, in principle, good for business.
The capitalist economy, in fact, had great success with this principle. No other economic system in history has generated and distributed more wealth in such a comparatively short a span of time. But when expansion is the central problem-solving strategy of an economic and societal system, and when that system is finite, it will eventually encounter a fatal trap when it begins to consume that which it itself requires.
The task then becomes to extract as much out of it as possible, while we still can. In this sense, the alarmism of environmental activists and climate researchers actually adds fuel to the fire, because it calls attention to the fact that the party may soon be over...It demonstrates the utter powerlessness of the intervention strategies which have been employed so far...Any form of protest that doesn't interfere with the existing business models, and which is able to perform well in the economy of attention, quickly establishes its own economic segment. To put it cynically, such protest creates its own "concern industry," with its own experts and industry professionalization, its own career paths and PR divisions. A science that produces troubling findings, as climate research does, differentiates itself as its own discipline, experiences booms in the creation of institutes, commissions and councils, yet in practical terms hardly disrupts the economic metabolism that is responsible for the troubling findings in the first place. We could even say that neither climate research nor climate conferences reduce CO2 emissions, but rather blithely contribute to their annual increase, because they are part of the larger system.Climate Summit Trap: Capitalism's March toward Global Collapse (Spiegel Int'l Online)
The article ends on a positive note, but I wish I could share the author's hopefulness.