Look, ultimately, beyond a certain point, this stuff is point scoring.
After you have some amount - say a few hundred grand, a million - the actual number doesn't really matter - you're waving your metaphorical dick around.
And that's fine. If we can convert that dick waving into serious change - if we can get the metric by which intelligent beings compete to be something good, like carbon captured or species saved or ICE cars avoided or _whatever_ - we are well on the way to winning.
You built an enormous solar farm? Adonis DNA.
If we hack it so that it just slots in to the Natural Way of Things - e.g. with a carbon tax or similar - such that investing and buying and doing good things is simply logical - even better.
Most people already do agree on what's "good" and what isn't, and yet they (rationally) choose to put their money elsewhere, because they have no guarantee that everyone else won't freeload off of their contribution. If I invest $100 in protecting a public good (like the climate), I only get one seven-billionth of the benefit; the rest goes to all of the other people on the planet. So I'll only invest if everyone else chips in, too.
The easiest solution to force cooperation like that is called ... taxation. The more difficult, but perhaps closer-to-ideal solution involves more math, see e.g. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3243656
I used to think like this, but I'm fed up of taking "economic maxims" that I read on the Internet as being actually true.
I don't believe this to be the case. I think that taking action, being public about taking action, and ultimately standing behind what you think is right, taxes and others be damned, is the way to go.
Yes, there will be free riders. That's inevitable in anything you do. People "free ride" on software I write all the time. I can shoulder it.
But most people aren't like you and me. I've had conversations about this with many others, and the most prevalent attitude is the one I described: ask them to buy the more expensive, environmentally friendly product, and they'll decline; ask them whether they would support a law that would require all products to be environmentally friendly, and they'll enthusiastically agree.
If that's how people work, then that's how we have to make policy.
Notice you have to assume that most people agree on what's good and that you know what that is. It's a solved problem, it's just a matter of implementing it.
> If I invest $100 in protecting a public good....So I'll only invest if everyone else chips in, too.
Public goods are non-rivalrous, another person consuming the good has no effect on you. So out of spite you're going to go against your own best interest because you think it's better to punish other people than to purchase a good that you would purchase if you could just figure out how to exclude them from using it. That's valuing the suffering of others over your own well-being. Going back to how hard it is to figure out what people think is "good".....
If people decide to not invest to clean energy/climate-neutrality/reducing waste, it might be fear of freeloading, but it can be billions of other reasons. But most reasons will have something in common.
And it is not fear of freeloading.
It is a list of priorities. When something is really important for people, they do it, they invest time and money into it.
If people don't invest their time nor money, it is in fact not important for them.
So why tax something that isn't important for people (because if it was important, they everybody would buy clean energy, would stop using plastic & other things)?
It wasn’t clear to people that putting on a seatbelt saves their lives. Maybe, because there was no seatbelt in the first place.
What’s important to people is sometimes a matter of marketing.
What’s important to people requires that "the right stuff" is offered.
People want to save the environment, but also want to save money. Only way this can work is if products get the damage they cause taxed in. Because right now, the environmentally friendly products are more expensive. It should be the other way around.
Larger amounts of capital means you can do larger things with it. Like SpaceX. If I had $zillions, I'd probably finance a probe to every object in the solar system that's moon size or larger, and landers to the ones that can be landed on.
Why work on climate change while poverty, cancer or illiteracy still exists?
By that logic, we should have never have had space exploration at all (and never should). I seriously doubt this would have improved our progress on the "bigger issues "
Or at least not in a worthwhile sense (+5c and up).
Ultimately what is purposed isn't even a solution to the problem. Small reductions here and there that in total only manage to delay the inevitable. The only solution is mass scale terraforming projects and genetic modification of existing species to increase resiliency. If the coral reefs are dying we need to build reefs that are more resilient. If polar bears are overheating we need to breed ones who are more temperature tolerant. If the fish of the sea do not breed quickly enough for us to consume them at the rate that we currently do, we need to increase yields.
Talking about terraforming Earth is a common way of distracting from the real problem — and I say that as someone who loves the idea of exporting the solar system.
There’s no guarantee that they’re even in the catchment area of the ideal solution, however, so we should be continuing to look for better ideas in parallel with implementing the best ones we have at the moment— there’s always the possibility that a Norman Borlaug will come along with a better solution than the common wisdom.
Earth is huge, we have barely scratched the surface. There is a lot of space and resources underground. And we don't have to go anywhere, we are already here.
In any case, what really makes space exploration possible today, is military spending. Which means that for the alternatives to become viable, they need to have strategic military applications. Unfortunately.
For example, people who are against meat consumption for climate purposes are linked through various entities to companies like BYND. So they begin to work on legislation that will profit BYND.
For another example, the solar funding debacle under Obama.
Otherwise I have no qualms with what you're saying.
Sometimes you have to crack a few eggs. What % of startups do you expect to succeed, 100%?
There are legitimate concerns about conflicts on interest for people who have large investments in green companies while also lobbying strongly for particular "green" public policies. The risk is that if we uncritically accept these people at their word, we may end up with policies that do less to protect the environment and climate and more to line the pockets of the advocates.
Of course, these issues are endemic to our current political/economic systems and don't just apply to investment in climate friendly companies.
I would be much more inclined to trust the motivations of environment advocates with large investments in environmental companies if those investments were purchased and administered through some sort of blind trust to alleviate conflict on interest concerns.
Doesn't look like that program accomplished its objectives: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/fredgraph.png?g=lMDT
The more economically rational way of solving the problem is to implement a carbon fee and dividend . You simply put a tax on fossil fuels as they come out of the ground. This makes everything downstream a bit more expensive. You then return 100% of the tax revenue back to citizens – so government doesn't grow and consumers don't suffer, but companies suddenly feel intense competitive pressure to get more fuel efficient so they can lower prices. The market takes care of the rest.
It makes so much sense, even many of the big corporations are onboard .
The best thing you can do today is to contact your local representative about this policy .
Supposedly HRC almost ran on universal basic income based on a carbon tax, but the math didn't quite work out in 2016.
But regardless of what happens to the money, economic incentives work.
Now, how does wind and solar have the same geo political benefit? We can always burn coal or build nukes. Subsidies to those industries are dependent upon the assumption of investing to prevent climate change. It doesn’t have an immediate economic benefit to me. As much as I believe in climate change, I expect the worst impact in my lifetime is a higher AC bill. Without children, why would I care?
To pick one as I happen to remember it. 500 days before climate chaos. IIRC that was some French minister, or delegate 500 and something days before the Paris 2015 climate summit. It got a fair bit of press, and was making a reasonable point. 500 days to make adequate agreement in the summit or lock in the train to chaos as the plan to reduce won't work. Not that chaos arrives on day 501.
All those Arctic ice free probably miss the second half of the sentence that's "in summer", or in the coming fifty years etc.
If they're going to cherry pick that disingenuously they can "prove" black is white.
This has to be a government-driven manhattan-project/moon-shot/new deal-project where no profit motive is involved at all.
This is a very well known phenomenon and gets used to make a business case for doing the right thing out of enlightened self interest: Don't do it for some nebulous sense of virtue. Do it to fatten your bottom line.
In restaurants and catering businesses, profit margins are so slim that upgrading to lightbulbs and appliances that use less energy can put a business in the black that has been struggling.
Does Corporate Social Responsibility Increase Profits?
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Of all commercial buildings, restaurants use the highest amount of energy per square metre. In fact, UK Power and the Family Hospitality Group estimate that anywhere between 5 to 15% of a restaurant’s total expenditure can be taken up by energy alone!
Considering that the average profit margin of a full-service restaurant is usually less than 10% of gross revenue – energy consumption suddenly becomes a BIG financial concern.
Why don't you think capitalism is going to fix climate change? If clean is cheaper, the capitalists will be using it. With gusto.
If prices reach parity, then the whole economic system will basically go into autopilot using & improving the technology, let alone the influence all the private interest groups who want research into clean tech.
It's very nice that solar panels are getting cheap, but electricity production is only one of many problems that we're facing. Like overfishing, for example. There's profit to be made by dragging that last fish out of the ocean, y'know.
Of course not, markets don't work without property rights. But there is money on banning high-sea fishing so you can sell more of your farmed fish (and help the environment as a side-effect), and some companies are pushing for that.
No ideology cannot fix anything.
Only people can fix things. People fix things they really care about enough to want to fix them. If people don't care about global warming enough to do real steps, no ideology will fix it.
And honestly, we have so many other problems, like obesity explosion, need for retirement reform, need for education reform, potential end of antibiotics, etc. that I am glad that people do care about other things too.
> File under: "duh"
However, I think it's important to recognize that just because this shocking headline might be true, doesn't mean that capitalism is necessarily incompatible with conservation & environmental stewardship.
There are a bunch of problems with the fundamental analysis of the problem, but even if we all magically agreed that climate change was the biggest threat to humanity then the real problem is in the solutions.
Energy is a physics not a technology problem.
And the reality is that we haven't had any major scientific breakthroughs in this space since fossil fuels and nuclear.
Almost all of modern society is depending on them and there is no new fundamental scientific discoveries to replace them anytime soon.
I have sat in on countless plastic alternative presentations only to discover that while it might work in a lab it won't scale and it's only for a fraction of the things you can use plastic for. Plastic gives us everything from as hard as diamond to as soft as spiderweb. No other materical does that.
When it comes to energy there are currently three potential solutions worth following with the ability to solve our energy needs and still be green.
Fusion, thorium and fuell cells.
If you want to solve fusion you have to at least try and taggle plasma which means tagging magnets or something similar. In other words you have to make discoveries in completely different fields than the field of fusion itself.
Fuell cells is equally far off and we don't really have a realistic model for how to create them and apply them to ex wind and solar which will be needed to make them even remotely competitive in the bigger game otherwise the realities of their capacity factor is just not going to cut it.
Thorium is the one that seams most feasible but still require a lot of progress to be anywhere close to ready.
In other words I think we will be stuck with fossil fuels for a very very long time and if these climate capitalists were really serious about this they would put the money towards fundamental science instead, the will have a slightly smaller chance of succeeding but if successful their investment will dwarf whatever they can do in the startup space.
We underappreciate how many things fossil fuel can be used for. It's not just fuel and plastic which in itself is extremely valuable. But it's also pesticides, machinery, medicin, chewing gum, sports equipment, textiles, toothpaste, guitar strings, contact lenses, fishing lures and I could go on.
It's so ever present in our daily life that living without it would kill most of us.
Sure there are alternatives to some of this, but we are not even close to having solutions for 99.9% of the uses of plastic today.
With regards to energy then also here it's hard to see the alternatives without fuell cells, thorium or fusion being a reality anytime soon.
I've looked at a lot of different alternative energy forms and while there are some interesting concepts in between I have yet to see something that can compete properly. A lot of Rube Goldberg solutions out there or solutinos that require a complete redevelopment of the very infrastructure we spent 200 years building.
So I am very skeptical but still looking. I am not saying you can't make a good investment on some of them, but whether you can save the world by investing in some of the things I have seen at least is very unrealistic.
How about adding concrete (coal) and asphalt  to that list? A world without fossil fuels would indeed look dramatically different.
We have alternatives for far, far more than 0.1% of the world's plastic though. We could probably get rid of most of it without a change in our quality of life, or effectiveness of products. Keep the oil for the few uses that can't be easily replaced by other more sustainable sources. Which almost certainly means contact lenses, and assorted medical uses, specialised equipment, some chemicals etc.
Even if you could replace 10% it wouldn't mean anything.
There's plenty of energy out there, delivered by the Sun. You just need cheap tech to harvest and store it. Energy is most decidedly a tech problem.
What has moved PV and wind turbines from niche tech to the real deal is production scale. Once production is scaling up, there's plenty of money for research in practical problems.
Energy is not a tech problem, optimizing subpar energy to deliver 5% better when the capacity factor is down at around 20-30 isn't actually solving anything fundamental and our energy usage is a fundamental problem.
The future will need more energy much much more. Wind and solar are linear solutions to an exponential problem.