Other recent books like The Weather Makers explain what we’re doing to cause global warming and the catastrophes it will soon cause. George Monbiot’s book Heat is devoted entirely to answering the question What Do We Do To Stop It. This is the first in a series of articles summarizing his action plan.
From the outset, Monbiot makes clear that he’s not looking for a subsistence solution: He doesn’t believe any such solution can be ‘sold’ to the majority of the people in affluent nations, so he doesn’t propose to try. We need to retain, he says, our creature comforts, our political and economic freedoms, our right to health care and education and security and freedom from fear.
The deadline for effective action to curb global warming, he argues, is 2030, and by then we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90%, nothing less. Heat prescribes the least difficult and least painful means to do so. This includes:
Monbiot quickly dismisses voluntary approaches to achieving these ends, and asserts that “unfashionable” strict government regulation and compliance enforcement will be essential to success. “By and large”, he says, “whatever our beliefs may be, we consume as much as our incomes allow”. But beyond the regulations absolutely needed to achieve these 90% reductions, he insists that governments must maximize freedoms of citizens.
Monbiot is scornful of the ‘light green’ technophiles who believe (because it’s easy) that new technologies will allow us to innovate our way to solutions to global warming. Micro wind turbines, for example, are “a waste of time and money”. He is equally scornful of the ‘dark green’ eco neosurvivalists who rejoice at the idea of civilizational collapse, and their cohorts who proclaim (as I have done) that it is already, realistically, too late to hope that anything we could do will be enough or in time.
So in his introduction he’s already set himself against the global warming holocaust deniers, the believers in using market forces, the technophiles, the radical greens and the green fatalists. That’s just about everyone. “As always”, he says, “I am destined to offend everyone”. His goal in this book is “to prompt you not to lament our governments’ failures to introduce the measures required to tackle climate change, but to force them to reverse their policies, by joining what must become the world’s most powerful political movement”.
The key mechanism for enforcement of Monbiot’s solution is a carbon rationing system, using a second ‘currency’ (Monbiot calls it ‘icecaps’ to remind us of its purpose)allocated equally to each consumer on our electricity, home fuel and transportation fuel usage. Individuals would be allotted 40% of the national total carbon ration, and the remaining 60% would be held by the government for its use and to auction to corporations to the highest bidder. There would be a free market for the rations — the poor and efficient could sell what they did not need to the rich for whatever the going market price turned out to be, so that the ration would apply fairly to all yet also allow for income redistribution between rich and poor. And the rationing system would also reward conservation and innovation in energy efficiency.
The rationing system would have to be accompanied by a large, subsidized system to encourage improvements in home appliance efficiency and insulation, in public transportation, and in special subsidies during extreme weather conditions (to buy more ‘icecaps’, not to exceed their ration).
You can’t fault him for ambition.
In upcoming parts of this review, I’ll describe the other elements of Monbiot’s solution in more detail: Improving home energy efficiency, optimizing the mix of alternative energy sources, improving the transportation system, reducing our ‘air miles’, and improving the retail and cement industries. In each case the improvement is towards the goal of reducing emissions, not energy efficiency — by decoupling these in our minds and our markets he proposes to encourage and reward technologies that are cleaner, without depending on them for success. And in his final chapter, Monbiot tackles, and lays to rest, the four ‘messiahs’ that others believe can or will make the need to tackle climate change moot: new fuel technologies, new cleaning technologies, Peak Oil, and the market mechanism of carbon offsets. Peak Oil in particular, heargues, could well make global warming worse.
Stay tuned for Part Two. And go get the book.
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My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
The Boiling Frog
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
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Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
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The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
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