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Why We Need a Green New Deal and Half Measures Won't Work

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/12/01/why-we-need-green-new-deal-and-half-measures-wont-work

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This part is hilarious and by hilarious I mean absurdly sad:

“The report goes on to say we must begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6 percent a year, beginning next year—or about a month from now—to stay below a 1.5°C temperature increase.”

Yoo hoo, global emissions have gone UP the last few years, post-Paris Accords. They’re on track to continue upward. The Saudi Aramco IPO is about to launch and guess what – the world’s most profitable company is all about oil. The time to address this crisis came and went: now we’re just getting a taste of what reaping the whirlwind is going to be like. Hotter here, wetter there, dryer somewhere else, completely fucked up and filled with cries of anguish. Nature as we know it is doomed.


And I just read, yesterday, that Nancy Pelosi will be leading a contingent of Democrats to COP25. That’s right, the same Nancy Pelosi who made snide comments about the Green New, whatever. The DNC won’t risk having a debate on climate change, but no problem sending Nancy to COP25. What a joke! Burn, baby, burn.


Pelosi at COP25. Window dressing reaches another new dimension.

Don’t tell me, Exxon-Mobil is sponsoring her delegation…


The Green New Deal is a half-measure - Duh

The World Socialist Party of the United States explains in a lot of Marxist detail why the GND will fail but briefly:

"The state’s function is to assure that the conditions for exploitation and accumulation, including the rule of law, are being met. It may well act against the interests of certain capitalists or even industries, but it always is geared towards the defense of the national interest, that is, the interest of the national capital. Since the climate crisis is certain to worsen, it’s not impossible that the US Congress would adopt some of the measures proposed in the GND which would benefit clean tech at the expense of fossil fuels…It wouldn’t bring us any closer to ending capitalism, to overthrowing the rule of the value-form that forces this mad, destructive accumulation process upon humanity. But it would reinforce the illusion that the system can auto-correct and solve our problems, that exploiters and exploited are in the same boat, share the same national interest.



Sadly, there’s little room for argument sbout that.

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So get out there with your plan, and fast, please.

There is only one permanent solution and it is not another version of capitalism but socialism. Capitalism cannot be fixed. The prognosis for the planet is poor. Even environment activists keep avoiding the conclusion even when they say the slogan - system change , not climate change. You want an answer on a platter, Critter, well here it is…

Capitalism depends on the drive for profits, which must take priority over everything else. Capitalists compete with each other in the market place and have to keep their costs to a minimum, otherwise they may lose out to their competitors and their businesses may fail. Green measures that may increase business costs will have to be ignored. Nation-states face the same pressures, as they compete on global markets. Governments, which look after the interests of their respective capitalists, seek to protect their lucrative extractive industries. Seen from this context, prescriptions by environmentalists for people to change their lifestyles – to reduce their consumption of meat, to use public transport rather than private vehicles – will not resolve the crisis.

If we are to have an environmentally sustainable future and avoid ecological catastrophe, we cannot rely on the capitalists and their governments to achieve this for us, we, the working class, must organise quickly to rid ourselves of capitalism and establish a society of common ownership of the means of living where we will be to plan production in a rational environmentally friendly way according to human need. We strongly urge workers to join us in this urgent task.

It is because politicians and even scientists cannot conceive of a world unlike this one; and so cannot countenance the idea that it has to change. Essentially they grasp that this system and environmental degradation are synonymous but that this system is the only means to support the world view they have and therefore this system of consumption must be defended at all costs, even if that involves bringing down everything with it. Like a crazed old dictator who would rather the entire empire collapsed than relinquished power, the capitalists would rather have it all smashed to smithereens than share any of it. Classic dog in a manger attitude, but with far worse consequences. Corporations will seek to distort the facts of the matter so they can carry on as usual.

Ultimately the issue of the environment is an issue of power: who has the power to determine what happens to this planet? Only in a society where we have the power to determine what can and cannot be done will we be able to stop this headlong rush to environmental devastation. That means a world of common ownership and democratic control. Anything else which anyone offers is merely using an bandaid to seal a volcano. Only socialism can deliver on the environment.

I repeat what the article says, the government of a country exists primarily to ensure optimal conditions for the accumulation of national capital – the wealth (value) owned by that country’s corporate and state capitalists – in competition with other national capitals. The process of capital accumulation is endless and serves no purpose outside itself.

A government that defies the imperative of capital accumulation in any significant way immediately comes under pressure so intense that it is forced either to change course or to resign. This is probably what would happen to any government that demanded fossil fuels be left in the ground, however profitable extracting and selling them might be to the companies concerned. Only extremely strong and persistent popular counter-pressure might give a government some room for manoeuvre.

A choice has to be made. It is no longer a matter of ‘socialism or capitalism’ or even ‘socialism or barbarism’. The choice now is between world socialism and global catastrophe.

The longer you procrastinate and postpone the social revolution, the less chance we have the time to halt and reverse global warming before tipping points are reached and no remedy is possible. The gangrene has set in and the cutting off the limb must be done…longer you put it off, the less chance of survival…Trusting in reforms, no matter how radical they might be such as the GND, is ignoring the festering weeping wound.


“It’s too late to rely on the market to solve the crisis we’ve put ourselves in.”

“Market” solutions are not simply a “too late” way to address the climate crisis.

Rather, the capitalist market system - focused on profit as it is - is the greater cause of the climate crisis, because the democratic political idea of the “common good” is alien and irrelevant to the logic of capitalist economies.

Asshole entrepreneur Steve Jobs was a “visionary” because he en-“visioned” combining public sector-pioneered technologies into modern computers and cell phones; but his short-term profit motive did not “envision” long-term, green capitalist technologies to reverse the predictable and predicted, destructive impact of industrial capitalism on the natural world…

…where was the profit in that?

Yea, we’ve got green technologies developing now. But only because they could be profitable - not because of a greater, urgent and short-term need to halt the destruction of life on the planet. For that you need governments responsive first to the “public good” of life on earth.


From a Nerdalist POV there are a number of flavours of Capitalism and they include Communism.

  1. Ann Rand Capitalism (See San Salvador where you have to tip the folks who fill the potholes)

  2. Oligarchic Capitalism (Russia maybe, but it could also be a Kleptocracy Not sure, and where the US almost is now)

  3. Free Market Capitalism (The US 1808 [when I start my studies] - 1932, and increasingly from 1980 to 2008)

  4. Regulated Market Capitalism (The US from 1932 - 1980)

  5. Limited State Capitalism (Manitoba, and frankly much of Canada still)

  6. Full State Capitalism (What Russia claimed to be 1917 - 1990, but probably wasn’t).

Note China is not Communist or any other form of Capitalist, the are Merchantilists (Europe 1433 - 1780 [France to]1805). Under this system, all economic effort is directed toward building up the State.

I suspect Syria, and the other Arab states are fudalists (Proceeds Merchantilits in Europe).

Atcheson observes:

Assumptions about carbon budgets make a big difference in terms of gauging how much time we have left to act. For example, the new carbon budgets the IPCC began using in 2018 suggest we have about nine years of current emissions remaining before we warm by 1.5°C; under the old budget, we only had three years.

I don’t know if John is just being coy here, but how could he not notice the obvious game of three-card monte going on, after describing it so succinctly? It kinda looks like they’ve been cooking the books over at the IPCC, almost as if fossil fuel extractors have enough pull over there to keep pulling for a few more years before there’s no time left to act.


The Green new deal docs I read are enemic. They DON’T MENTION hydro electric, fracking for geothermal power, or nuclear power to displace coal, nat gas, or oil. You can’t do it without them.

Yes, fracking for geothermal should be done someplace mostly empty (Nevada is a no because of inadiquate water). And the US design of nuclear reactor is a bad joke, but the Canadian and British designs are robust, safe, and only require a pipe shop, not a super forge shop that the US PWR needs. More the Canadian reactor needs only natural urainum, not enriched fuel and can happily ‘burn’ 175% of the energy out of spent american fuel (It breads some as it burns it down).

Some of the issues in the GND are purely economic, like bringing back unions to companies over 500 (oops stole that one from my own fiction), and similar issues, but the engineering work is deathful short in the package.

I’d wish there were details on not only power generation, but a system of HVDC power to make One Grid in North America, or is that may all linked by HVDC.

Also the GND omits any discussion of District Heating in cooler climates. That takes a thermal power plant doing 30% in the summer to 95% in the winter!


Ed Wilson

Yeah, claims and counter-claims can get confusing. It is incumbent upon us all to investigate them and not take what’s said at face-value.

“If a worker wants to take part in the self-emancipation of his class, the basic requirement is that he should cease allowing others to teach him and should set about teaching himself.” - Joseph Dietzgen

Marxism offers the basis of that with the Materialist Conception of History.

Recall Marx’s admonition “one cannot judge people by what he thinks about himself"

Surplus Value
The merchant calls it profits
And he winks the other eye;
The banker calls it interest
And heaves a cheerful sigh.
The landlord calls it rent,
As he tucks it in his bag,
But the honest old burglar,
He simply calls it swag.

There is that and the even more absurd irony is that we only know an itsy bitsy percentage of what there is to know about nature, being the died-in-the-wool material non-science based greedy little F#*!@ this western version of human society. The hubris of the I’ve-got-mine WTO / WB and other “elite” (gotta laugh at that notion) already wear alternate reality goggles - just take LeGard and her collusionists of the IMF for example - the pathos is mind bending.

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hope to see that little ditty early and often! The term ‘swag’ should be used in responses to politicians, corporate CEOs and the insurance, pharma and other takers.

I’m very curious about micro-hydro and less centralized designs that eschew “mega” style disruptions.


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Thank you for such a response. I agree in the main, but what a daunting task! The greed that got us here will destroy the world. Socialism has the potential to save us, but so many people equate it with communism, it’s most extreme form, that has been racked with corruption whereever practiced so that just a few greedy elites end up controlling everything. As an aside, I’ve never believed the Bible is the direct word of God so I belong to no church, but in trying to make some sense of why humans and their neverending greed are destroying the planet that gives them life, the Book of Revelations statement that “…and still they would not repent” just keeps coming to mind. Climate driven catastrophic events occur almost weekly but are largely ignored by our corporate, elite controlled media so the drilling and fracking and poisoning of the earth can continue to generate profits. The cumulative effect is ignored. So…and still they will not repent says it all for me. As for our politics, I believe Bernie has deeper socialist beliefs than he has ever displayed since he is a realist who above all wanted to get elected so he could have an impact in government. Although he has given socialism a better image, especially with the younger voters, he could not have been elected as a pure socialist when he entered politics. On the other hand, he is often criticized by other socialists as not being socialist enough or being the wrong kind of socialist, if there is in fact any broad consensus on the “correct” definition. I think this kind of infighting has held socialists back. Instead of being glad socialism got a foot inside the government door with Bernie, he got a lot of criticism instead of support. Yet he is the only national figure I can think of who could get this country quickly going in the right direction if the movement he started could regain its momentum. However, it has been successfully fragmented and observaby stalled by the political and corporate forces arrayed against it. Too late in the game to start from scratch, so practically speaking, what’s to be done?

At first I thought you meant endemic - but I suppose you mean anemic?

fracking for geothermal

I haven’t heard of this. I’ve not heard that much on geothermal and it always seems to be portrayed as a relatively minor renewable player compared to hydro, wind, solar. Do you have a definitive article you recommend?

but the Canadian and British designs are robust, safe, and only require a pipe shop, not a super forge shop that the US PWR needs. More the Canadian reactor needs only natural uranium, not enriched fuel and can happily ‘burn’ 175% of the energy out of spent american fuel (It breads some as it burns it down).

By Canadian and British designs, I assume you are speaking of Gen IV MSR designs by Moltex, ThorCon, and Elysium (e.g. https://www.neimagazine.com/features/featuregrowing-interest-in-molten-salt-reactor-7420591/). Those do look promising - I don’t think of them as Canadian or British - I assumed they were all multi-national corporations but I know they are looking at siting a reactor in Canada and I thought several sites in Asia. If you are interested in discussion here on this topic, you might look at @Trog’s postings (https://commons.commondreams.org/u/trog/activity).

The 175% number seems low according to figures I recall Trog mentioning. With only about 5% of potential energy being used up by Gen III reactors, do you mean by 175% that 8 or 9% more is used (13%-14% total)? I thought Trog was using figures quite a bit more than that, but I suppose it does depend on exactly how you define the end state collection of atoms.

I’d like to understand HVDC more - I’m an electrical engineer who knows almost zero about power transfer (I know about digital communication and DSP).

I haven’t seen you here before - if you are new and choose to continue to post here on GND and energy usages, prepare to be thick skinned - there will be a bunch of people attacking you for wanting nuclear in the mix, but I always find good technical information interesting so don’t give up.

I think what he is talking about is recycling PWR spent fuel through CANDU reactors (the “Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor” scheme). The recycled fuel would have about 0.9% U-235 going in, and about 0.27% U-235 coming out, and if you fission .0063 tonnes of U-235, you get roughly 5.7 gigawatt days of heat energy out. But the fuel burnup is rated at 10 gigawatt days per tonne, which is roughly 175% of the energy you would have gotten from fissioning the U-235 by itself (and the extra energy came from breeding plutonium from the U-238 and burning some of it). It sounds like it is delivering more than 100% of the energy potential because it completely neglects the energy potential of the U-238 going in.

And yeah, 10 gigawatt days burnup per tonne of fuel is pretty lousy. Old Gen II PWR reactors started out at around 40 GWd/tHM (tonne heavy metal). Current PWR burnup rates are more like 60 GWd/tHM. And with some jiggering and thorium doping, some water moderated designs are projected to come close to 100 GWd/t. But for serious gains, you have to go to fast reactors. The old EBR-II took its fuel up to almost 200 GWd/t on one fuel cycle without reprocessing. The Deep Burn Modular Helium Reactor is theorized to be capable of burnup rates closer to 500 GWd/t. But molten salt fast reactors should be able to boost that up to around 900 GWd/t–roughly 99% of the theoretical maximum.

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Yep, none of us “greenies” have to work for our luxuries.

Do you know how stupid that makes you sound?

Welcome to the community. But try harder.

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