Smirking Chimp - August 25, 2019

"... they’re spreading the dangerous myth that Democrats need to appeal to the center to win the election. How would this kill us? Well, it’s the only way Trump – who is unravelling right before our eyes – could get reelected, and that would be an existential crisis."

Centrists are going to kill us. Literally. They’ll do it in two ways.

First, they’re saying that we can’t afford the kind of far reaching solutions like Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal that are needed to tackle the climate crisis.

Second, they’re spreading the dangerous myth that Democrats need to appeal to the center to win the election. How would this kill us? Well, it’s the only way Trump – who is unravelling right before our eyes – could get reelected, and that would be an existential crisis.

Let’s look at each in turn.

The GND is not a cost, it’s an investment, for two reasons. First, saying we can’t afford to do what’s necessary to mitigate the greatest threat humanity has ever faced is about as smart as trying to save money by not changing the oil in your car – if you don’t do it, your car will self-destruct; if you don’t address climate change, every aspect of the natural world and civilization as we know it will deteriorate, including the economy.

A 3.7 degree C temperature increase, a little more than what we’d see if all the nations of the world met their obligations under the Paris Agreement, will result in damages that cost us – at a minimum – more than $551 trillion. And right now, the world in general and the US in particular are not on track to meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement. A business as usual climate policy -- the path we’re on now – would increase temperatures by 4.5 C or more and the costs of that kind of temperature increase are, quite literally, incalculable.

So the $16.3 trillion price tag that Sanders’ plan calls for is cheap at twice the price. Planetary maintenance isn’t a cost, it’s a prerequisite to the survival of civilization as we know it, and to the life support systems our species has relied on since we first appeared on the planet.

But there’s another reason Sanders’ GND is an investment, not a cost. The fact of the matter is, the world will switch to renewable energy and no-carbon energy, not only because it’s cleaner, but it’s cheaper too. Bids for renewable energy supplies are coming in as low as 3 cents per kilowatt hour, while the cheapest fossil fuel alternative – natural gas – costs as much as 6, 7 or more cents per kW/hr. And cutting the amount of energy we use through efficiency costs about 2.5 cents per kW/hr. In many cases, it is now cheaper to shut down an existing coal fired plant and replace it with solar or wind energy than it is to keep running the plant. And when it comes to new power generation, wind and solar win the price war hands down. This means we can cut carbon emissions while saving money. ...
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