Climate breakdown, capitalism and democracy

When the BBC asked me if I would participate in a debate panel on climate change, capitalism and democracy, I first panicked and then said yes. All I really wanted to do this week was finish up and (re)submit some research I started a long time ago. This research shows that, despite their massive growth, energy and carbon emissions cannot (statistically) explain improvements in international life expectancy. I call it the “carbon-development paradox.” But the 1.5degree IPCC report dropped, and life, research and plans all had to make way for a new, more urgent reality.

Climate Change

​The BBC debate itself was fine, I guess. Unfortunately, because the public discourse has been so starved on this topic, especially considering its existential importance (i.e. the real and present threat it constitutes to hundreds of millions, if not billions, in the medium term, based on actions that are very much right now in our present ), we only were able to repeat basics, and scratch the surface.

So below are two questions I wish we had been asked, and my contributions as answers: is preventing climate change compatible with capitalism? And is preventing climate change compatible with democracy? Read on …
Is preventing climate breakdown compatible with capitalism?

This is a key question, apparently, because, in some polite circles, preventing planetary-scale, irreversible harm to ecosystems and humans can only be justified if we promise not to change the economic system that this harm arose from in the first place. Sydney Azari, an eco-socialist based in Los Angeles, as usual has the best pithy comment here:


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