Economic Recovery and Global Warming

     All the talk about how we citizens (I hate the term ‘consumers’) need to spend our way out of the economic crisis makes me uneasy.  While I know that we need to strengthen the economy so that people can keep their jobs and provide for their families, it does not feel right to me to try to go back to the way things were before. 

     I don’t really want a return to booming construction of housing developments and shopping malls that eat up wildlife habitat.   I am not eager to see us all tank up on more stuff, much of it we can probably live quite well without.  I would actually like to see a return to an earlier national habit of thrift.  But then our newfound thriftiness is apparently depressing the economy.

     So what’s the answer?  Can’t we have a healthy economy that is sustainable, that does not mean an increase in the greenhouse emissions that are fueling global warming?

      I have done a little Internet research, hoping to find thoughtful articles by people who both ’get ‘ the urgency of addressing global warming, and who also understand economics and the need to keep jobs and money from disappearing.

     I didn’t see much, but I did find a sensible proposal by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) calling for comprehensive ‘cap and invest’ legislation.  The idea is to set a cap on greenhouse emissions, and make polluters buy pollution allowances.  The government would direct the revenues from such allowances  toward green energy in the form of infrastructure improvements and incentives for innovation.     

      If done right, the NRDC maintains, this strategy would create millions of jobs, while moving us significantly closer to the goal of reducing greenhouse emissions to 80% below 2005 levels.  This is a goal we absolutely must meet by mid-century, many scientists say, if we are to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming.

     But what else else can we do to create an economy that is both healthy and sustainable?  If any readers of The Earth Connection have ideas or know of good ideas that others are proposing, please share them!  In the meantime, you can click on the link below to learn more about NRDC’s ‘cap and invest’ proposal.–April Moore

4 Responses to “Economic Recovery and Global Warming”

  1. Diane Says:

    I would like to think about how we can employ the very large numbers of children on the autism spectrum (including ADHD), now growing up and needing adult jobs– in “green” ways. I believe these children have been affected much the same way the Earth has been affected, by pollutants altering their inner workings. It would seem to be healing for both the individual and the planet to lift them both up simultaneously.

  2. Jonah Blaustein Says:

    Here are two organizations that are addressing the economics/sustainability question in light of global warming.

    The Apollo Alliance ( has been building coalitions of environmental, business, labor and community leaders to promote green jobs. Research shows how investments in alternative energy create far more jobs than fossil fuel industries.

    Another organization worth looking into is Transition Totnes –
    which has taken the sustainability question further in terms of community based solutions. There is a lot of inspirational work happening under the general term transition communities or transition movement:;

    Your last post quoted Ross Gelbspan who looks at enhanced communities as the key to solving this crisis, and the transition movement is a reflection of support for that happening around the world.

  3. Jim Z. Says:

    The idea that you pose it right on.

    Everything that I read (and experience) about a green economy always comes back to one all-too-obvious fact. That is, that energy conserved is energy not purchased, mined, burned or converted into pollution.

    The Rocky Mountain Institute:

    was co-founded by Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins; the institute and its work has shown that a robust but green economy can exist through the use of technology that makes smart use of materials, design, reingineering, etc.

    A brief on Hunter Lovins is:

    that includes her website.

    And here’s an Economist article about Amory Lovins:

    I’m generally not in the camp that says that our broad ecological issues will be solved by present or future technology. Technology does not bring back a wrecked rainforest. However, as a part of the solution, it makes a lot of sense to do what is perfectly feasible right now, as well as push the frontiers of ecological technology forward, especially since the purse strings of the federal government are open for new investment just now.

    The Lovins’ co-authored a book with Paul Hawken titled “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution” (1999). And Thomas Prugh wrote “Natural Capital and Human Economic Survival.” Other sources within the broad field of “Ecological Economics” (as distinct from the field of “environmental economics”) begin to help understand the real source of value and sustainability in an economy and in human society.

  4. Clement Axson Says:

    Good blog post. I definitely love this website. Keep writing!

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