Protesting Won’t Stop Climate Change, but Economic Reform Can

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Protestors constantly demand a solution, but they fail to offer this viable solution to climate change they demand. There is a profound difference between demanding a result, and actually attaining this result.

The protests and rallies will do nothing to stopping climate change. This does nothing to actually address the issue, and it will never accomplish anything, because the demands people make are contrary to economics, while they place 100% of the blame on the scapegoat of industry, all while driving their cars to these protests, living in their incredibly polluting individual homes, and living incredibly wasteful consumeristic lifestyles.

The protestors demand that the industries must sacrifice their own success for the common good, and even if the heads of industries wanted to do this, those companies, and thus any environmental reform they established, would fail, because they’ve sacrificed their success.

Stopping climate change must be done in a manner that is attuned to economics, meaning it the solution must be completely economically valid and these actions should be taken regardless of the state of the climate.

The result of minimizing climate change as a result of these independently valid policies would essentially just be a “side-effect” of taking these self-legitimizing measures that justify themselves independent of the climate. Thankfully minimizing global pollution and climate change are actually valid for purely economic reasons, regardless of whether they do damage to the environment.

The pollution that induces climate change is largely due to human laziness, not due to any actual economic benefit from utilizing dirty forms of energy. This is also true about other major environmental issues such as litter in the ocean.

Using fossil fuels is a “quick and dirty” means to get things done. The advent of the internal combustion engine around the turn of the 20th century was a major innovation, but it arrived in a time when human society was still largely feral and instinctive, thus largely individualistic. The issue is that the self-serving nature of and individualistic society leads to gross inefficiencies with regards to the use of energy. The efficiency difference is that between a subway and a car for every 5000 individuals that use this subway on a given day.

This is contrary to an economy of scale, which dictates that you can much more readily and cost-effectively address the needs of 5000 people en masse than you can address those same needs of those people on an individual level. The same logic applies with resources such as fossil fuels, in that it requires much less energy to move 5000 people en masse than it does to move them individually.

Our society was feral, and it still is today, in that humans were oriented around an individualistic, “self-made” society, where each person was responsible for creating the entirety of their existence essentially with their own two-hands.

This means that our society was designed and organized around the individual, rather than having society be organized in a way that optimized the efficiency of labor in a way that minimizes the cost and energy requirements of ensuring that labor is performed by society as a whole.

Society was optimized in a manner for each individual to be able to provide for themselves, to provide their own home, food, transportation, clothing, and accomplishing everything else they personally need to accomplish through their own volition and their own capacity to become self-made.

While this individual-focused economy is a sign of consumer freedom, where each person makes their own financial decisions about their life, it only exists because this system is much simpler, in that it requires very little extensive organization above the individual level. Any collective needs of society have been met by a certain individual or collective, not because the methods of resolution offered by these people were in the best-interest of society, but because offering these resolutions to public issues was in the economic interests of the people attempting to meet those needs of society.

This of course leads to society being organized in a manner that is designed to be profitable, rather than cost-effective or energy-efficient. Every aspect of human life in the West exists because it is profitable to somebody, and this is often the only logical justification for consumerism, consumer freedom, and financial individualism that defines our society today.

These concepts are all the antithesis of economic optimization with regards to the economy of scale, but are the pinnacle of freedom. While they are the pinnacle of freedom, they do not exist simply because “We love freedom”. They exist because this complete lack of organization above the individual level is the least amount of effort possible that can be put into organizing society. This is just what naturally happens when you put a large number of people into the same space.

While people do exchange their personal labor for that of others in the form of money, since the money the purchaser uses in this transaction is the product of their own labor, it’s closer to an exchange of individual labor, with the labor performed and traded never rising above the individual level, but instead it is simply two people exchanging two different forms of individual labor.

This is opposed to a communal or society-based reasoning with regards to economic development. This would be a system where society as a whole orchestrates the major aspects of the person’s existence, rather than the individual being entrusted to do this themselves.

The lack of this macro-level orchestration is what causes these problems of inefficiency related to consumerism and individualism, and this is what must be addressed in order to alleviate the problems induced by this inefficacy.

Our individualistic society is not organized in the slightest because this would require cohesion and consensus among a group of people. Instead, the individuals within society just let the pieces fall where they may. They do this because they don’t want others imposing their whims upon them, and this mutual concern about being oppressed leads to a general reluctance to organize society above the state of feral, individualistic disorder. Essentially this is taking a lot of rocks and putting them into a bucket randomly, letting them settle by their own volition, not in any organized manner.

This loose organization was defended as ideal because it is essentially the absence of authority, nothing restraining your movements or your freedom, and people often had issues with that being done in a disagreeable manner. While that is a pleasant notion, it’s not an economically sound argument. Objectively social and economic freedom is not ideal for any reason above having to do little to no work in order to attain this state of freedom, as the minimized threats from authority are readily replaced by general threats of economic disorder and inefficiency.

Opossum are certainly free, but this freedom does little to allow them to establish a functional and cohesive society. Society in reality is the antithesis of freedom, as it is a collective of people mutually sacrificing their natural freedoms in order to benefit the society as a whole.

Think of murder. Naturally people are certainly free to murder one another. It is the voluntary and artificial sacrifice of this natural right by all members within a society that allows this society to mutually benefit as a whole.

It is countless instances of individuals sacrificing their natural individual freedoms for the good of the whole that has produced society. This sacrifice of natural freedoms to benefit society is the objective and scientific basis of morality, when this philosophical concept is stripped of any sentimental and subjective embellishment and rather analyzed as a purely objective means of placing constraints upon a system.

Every instance of functional moral code in history has existed to accomplish exactly this, and while the value of some moral laws may not be clear today as it was 4,000 years go, those laws all had very explicit and measurable value and benefit to their societies that followed them.

Returning to the problems of a general disorganization of society, think of this like having 10,000 cheese cubes. If you just scoop these into a bag, they will be organized “as they fall” rather than through an actual systematic way to organize them efficiently, such as a cube.

A way to see this, is get 1,000 pennies, then compare how much space 10 rolls of pennies take up in a bag, compared to 1,000 unrolled pennies. The rolls will be much more orderly and will take up less space.

Think of having 20 bedsheets tossed randomly or folded neatly. Now think of trying to carry 20 folded bedsheets compared to a clump of 20 randomly tossed and unfolded bedsheets.

While it is more work to fold the bedsheets, roll the pennies, or stack the cheese into cubes, the efficiency and ease of transport created in this situation is the same degree of efficiency and functionality that would be produced if similar organization were applied to our current society that is akin to millions of loose, disorganized, unrolled pennies scattered on the floor by the volition of gravity and the whims of those who toss pennies on the ground.

Essentially “Freedom is ideal because it is free” meaning it costs nothing to establish or maintain, not for any other reason. While a gift horse is certainly free, this does not mean that this horse is a perfect horse, and the fact that it is free indicates that it more than likely is not a perfect horse.

While the old adage reminds us not to look a gift horse in the mouth, this is beyond a vain matter of teeth. The poor internal function of this horse and general inefficiency of this horse of our economy means that we must assess what is wrong with it. The issue is that our horse eats 10x as many oats in order to perform the same amount of work as a healthy horse.

Our horse is extremely inefficient in converting consumed energy into labor, and knowing that this inefficiency is causing an inordinate amount of damage to the climate, at this point, with both economic as well as environmental justifications, we surely must cast judgement upon this horse that pulls the sleigh of our society.

Understanding that the key issues of general disorganization and the inefficiency of individualism are the root causes of most pollution, this allows us to devise legitimate strategies to address this issue so that we can take meaningful steps to address this issue.

Society is currently organized in a bottom-up form, with society built upon the backs of individual’s success, and this leads to disorder, it’s taking thousands of individually and independently designed pieces and attempting to force them together as best they can fit.

Instead society must be organized from a top-down perspective, with the most prominent and overarching aspects of human society such as food, shelter, transportation, and work being met in the most efficient manner possible.

The general framework of society must be established from the vantage of society as the single established entity, and from this foundation the small individual pieces would be attached in a manner that fits snugly within the model, rather than attempt to jury-rig a society from the individual pieces we are provided.

We must understand that social, governmental, and economic change cannot legitimately and sustainably occur unless these changes are economically valid, meaning that such actions are correct, valid, and justifiable economic maneuvers regardless of any other secondary intentions one might have regarding the actions.

It is imperative that any attempts to resolve climate change be addressed in this manner, as otherwise we are attempting to address in issue with a method that has no capacity to substantiate itself through its own success.

If climate change is not addressed in an economically valid manner, these attempts will fail for the same reason businesses without sound economic principles fail outright. Economics is what allows any sort of large-scale pecuniary undertaking to sustain its efforts and continue to produce the products it produces.

As we cannot sell people “a better climate”, as this is not a marketable commodity, but rather an ideal, a belief, or an intangible quantity that one cannot own or personally attain, possess, own, utilize, wield, or instantly benefit from, we know we cannot use “a better climate” as the justifications for actions which would reduce climate damage.

These demands fall upon deaf ears because they are contrary to success. Climate related demands are aggressively demanding that commercial enterprises volunteer to fail in the name of public interest. This is folly because even if these enterprises do undertake these actions, they will fail economically, and once they have failed they will no longer be able to produce or enact this environmental benefit they intended to accomplish.

We must understand that any “climate related benefit” cannot be accomplished directly, but must instead be produced by valid economics which produces this benefit to the climate as a side-effect, rather than the major objective goal.

This requires addressing the two key economic issues of social disorganization and financial individualism that produce the vast majority of energy and material inefficiency, and thus pollution.

Addressing Social and Economic Disorganization

Addressing social and economic disorganization in turn results in economic individualism being addressed, and this is must be the major focal point of any attempts to somehow reduce the impact of climate change.

Social disorganization can be seen vividly in consumerism. To attain the things you need or desire to sustain your life, you must go to hundreds of different establishments scattered all throughout a broad area of land, just to have your needs met: A store for every object, a building for every sort of business, all miles away from each other. This creates a high degree of polluting travel and commercial transport that could easily be avoided in an organized system.

The major factor that potentiates this consumeristic sprawl is commuter work. People who drive back and forth to work already are in the habit of driving around to take care of business, and it is these commuters that are then preyed upon by businesses that cater to the driving public.

If these people had no capacity to drive, and no reason to drive in order to sustain their life, then this would eliminate most all non-commercial traffic on the roads. Knowing that cars are a major source of pollution, knowing that personal cars are the vast majority of cars on the road, to eliminate this would lead to a significant reduction in inefficiency and thus a reduction in needless pollution.

Eliminating consumer traffic just means creating environments where people have absolutely no reason to drive. When people have no reason to drive, they will not drive. This means people must exist within walking distance to most everything they need access to, including their work.

A functional model here would look something like a city, a college, or a boarding school. These people exist within walking distance of everything they need to sustain their lives, home, work, and food.

Knowing that these condensed systems reduce commuter traffic, this means every functional economic system must be condensed as much as possible. To condense these systems, this would mean we would create a city for every industry.

Condensed systems such as tower-blocks are the key element here, because these compounds exist in accordance with an economy of scale. It costs far less to house 20,000 people in the same building than it does to create 20,000 individual houses for each individual person. This applies to everything from plumbing, electricity, heating, and anything else.

Think of your house. What percent of the time is each portion of your house empty? 95% of the time for most every part of your house. This is an extremely inefficient design model, as things are created only to be used 5% of the time.

We have 20 houses, in which each part is used only to 5% capacity. This is profoundly wasteful, as things should be performing at 100% capacity so the benefit of their existence is not wasted or underutilized.

Every house has a washing machine, yet one washing machine, when used at 100% capacity, could wash the clothes for 20 households, rather than sit idle 95% of the time.

A large kitchen could feed 20 households if used at 100% capacity, but still every household has a kitchen that sits idle 95% of the time rather than being put to use.

This idle fate that most household necessities are subjected to demonstrates the sheer inefficiency of the system. It takes a very large amount of energy, including fossil fuel emissions, to manufacture a washing machine, transport it, and install it.

When each washing machine is used only at 5% capacity, then this means the process is 95% wasteful. For every one washing machine produced that society as a whole actually needs to meet the laundry demand, 19 extra ones are produced in the name of consumeristic convenience, just so people can all have their own washing machine despite the inefficiency of this machine being idle 95% of the time.

The same is true for all large appliances, especially things such as cars, which sit idle 95% of the time, in parking lots, driveways, or otherwise doing nothing. Despite these cars having cost a profound amount of energy, material, and emissions in order to be manufactured, the cars still sit idle 95% of the time.

If something is going to be manufactured, it must be used at 100% capacity. There is no reason to produce another object to perform this same task, when the prior local object has available capacity that could be used to perform this task. This extreme inefficiency is the marker of consumerism, and the consumers’ craving for this sort of inefficiency in the name of personal convenience is one of the major forces that allow consumerism to be commercially viable.

Everything that society does must be done in the most energy-effective, cost-effective, and efficient manner possible. It is this wasted capacity of manufactured goods that is causing 95% of the emissions from industry to accomplish nothing but needless pollution and wasted energy, most of which comes from fossil fuels.

Further means to the end of environmental reform are discussed in the follow up to this article.

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Used to write things, a couple books. Delusions of being able to help humanity faded. Now I'm mostly just waiting to die.

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Marzipan Maddox

Marzipan Maddox

Used to write things, a couple books. Delusions of being able to help humanity faded. Now I'm mostly just waiting to die.

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