I am pleased that you are on my blog site where I tackle some important but complex and undisclosed topics, around the collision between capitalism and climate change, 2050. I happily accept this daunting challenge as a Professor Emeritus of Sustainability from Ramapo College of New Jersey.
I approach this challenge not as an academic project but I see myself as a concerned citizen with a background on this theme, looking out as a scout to concerns for the next generations — all in the spirit of sustainability. I wish to reach a general audience of concerned citizens wishing to exercise democratic rights in a free society where they can raise their voices.
Academics may stay away from the speculation required to explore this future-oriented, critical topic, but I have no inhibition. At age 73, I need to get my thoughts down soon and, even as a contented retiree, I face competing demands on my time, as do we all. So I will fill in sources and evidence as I proceed.
While I enjoy the more casual approach of blogging, I take the project seriously and try to display my sources. I may miss something, but that is why I hope that you comment. I am on it, eventually.
The mere mention of capitalism seems a taboo among many. Capitalism takes on economics at the highest level, including history and society. However, I am not a Marxist for fundamental reasons such as class conflict and the labor theory of value. I find many Marxists dogmatic and stuck in the Industrial Revolution in England in the mid-19th century. Marx (like Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Robert S. Gordon, and John Maynard Keynes, to name a few economists) has informed my thinking. The most valuable interpreters of capitalism I have encountered in this project are Joseph Schumpeter and Karl Polanyi.
My sincere interest is the the human inhabitation of the Earth (thus, the Athropocene) to the middle of the 21st century. I will be gone by then, of course: I was born on the cusp of World War II, in August, 1945, as atomic bombs incinerated two civilian populations: Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This haunts me, demonstrating an unthinkable catastrophe of human origins. I am scared for the future of the Anthropocene, and for you, dear reader.
On the dim horizon looms the calamity of climate change. The impacts and the responses to a Hothouse Earth cannot be evaded, and I will not do so. This project is a learning process which I hope that you share.
My thinking is that while science has a grasp of climate change, the real-world impacts (like tipping points) are not well understood. Certainly, the response of social institutions has been discouraging, and capitalism is a player in this game.
Finally, I do not advocate a Green New Deal, although I am pleased that greens are talking about such an expensive, highly unlikely, big government program. My approach here will stress a highly decentralized, heavily participatory, fiscally prudent, civic and cultural approach that can be replicated, at least in part, everywhere.
Put this all together with me. I beg your patience as I grapple with a complex challenge.