FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Climate of Neoliberalism

by ROBERT HUNZIKER

Elements are found everywhere, all across the solar system, beyond the stars to the very tip of infinity, elements make up the universe, and because they are compatible at large, the universe works in harmony.

But, if the elements do not harmonize, then, there are problems. As such, it is time to explore the elements of neoliberalism clashing with the elements of the earth.

As for a backgrounder on neoliberalism, regardless of whether one is a Marxist, a socialist, or a capitalist, the case can be made that Adam Smith’s capitalism (circa 1776) worked reasonably well for 200 years, giving rise to a vast middle class, and wonderful conveniences, like automatic washing machines, and a reasonable uniformity of class and status, epitomized in the 1950s by Dinah Shore’s: “See the USA in Your Chevrolet.”

It was during that era, when medical doctors appeared in advertisements for cigarette companies, that Milton Friedman, in 1951, first used the word “neoliberal” in an essay, “Neoliberalism and Its Prospects.” Thus, a supercharged version of Adam Smith’s capitalism was born. And, ever since, as Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek spelled out the details of their take-no-prisoners brand of economics, capitalism has gone bonkers.

Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, would not recognize today’s brand of capitalism because it has turned virulent, narcissistic, and hoggish. In turn, there is no harmony between the policies of neoliberalism and the health of the planet. Not even close!

Freidman’s rugged neoliberalism parts company with Smith, who believed the state should build public works and forge institutions that would otherwise fail under market pressure; the state should fund schools, bridges, and roads, all of which Milton Friedman said should be left to the private sector, which philosophy continues to echo within the halls of Congress and the boardrooms of global corporations.

According to Robert McChesney, PhD, professor, University of Illinois, neoliberalism is “capitalism with the gloves off,” Noam Chomsky, Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order, Seven Stories Press, 2011.

The brutal truth is that neoliberalism makes no allowances for the planet, other than the use of it. Rather, neoliberalism’s emphasis is solely on winning, profits, individual gratification, and carte blanche expansionism, resulting in an epitome of corporate narcissism. The planet is like a factory to be used, not cuddled. But, there is no ROI (return on investment) within the climate of Mother Earth.

As it goes, with Philistine brutality, the Earth’s defiled, water’s acidified, and air’s gassed to extremes not seen in hundreds of millions of years.

As for capitalism’s relation to nature, environmental sociologists John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York (The Ecological Rift, Monthly Review Press, 2011) argue: “… the source of our ecological crisis lies in the paradox of wealth in capitalist society, which expands individual riches at the expense of public wealth, including the wealth of nature. In the process, a huge ecological rift is driven between human beings and nature, undermining the conditions of sustainable existence.”

“Undermining the conditions of sustainable existence” is unfortunately what is occurring, and its in clear sight. But, there is nobody doing much of anything about it beyond rogue individuals writing articles, or people listening to intellectuals like Chris Hedges carry on about the pitfalls of capitalism or Noam Chomsky dissect capitalism’s underbelly.

In truth, those intellectuals are prime examples of ‘public relief valves’ which satisfy pent up frustration, but that’s kinda where it ends, followed by polite clapping at the end of their public speaking events. Whereas, nobody does much of anything constructive about the problem other than listen to the philosophers of the day, similar to ancient Greece in many respects.

Similarly, Socrates, who was tired on charges of “corrupting the youth and of impiety and sentenced to death,” suggested that the very nature of democracy makes it a corrupt political system, which he could’ve easily labeled neoliberalistic democracy, assuming a leap in time to the present; his statement: “When they are given great power, their shallowness inevitably leads to injustice.”

As it goes, in today’s world, public insouciance registers within the halls of a bungling Congress, failing to address the most pressing issue of the times, which is a rambunctious out-of-control climate, instead, copping-out with declarations about some kind of nonsensical pseudo energy fix by drilling/fracking for energy independence. It’s confusing.

It’s fossil fuel; it pollutes; it acidifies; it stirs a leviathan of methane lurking beneath the ice; it brings on extinction. It’s absurd and, maybe, psychotic.

Meantime, as the earth figuratively coughs, sneezes, and runs a fever, the only course of action for citizens of the nation-state is to adapt as best they can to horrific conditions, or rebel. If it were otherwise, the government would declare war on planetary ruination, and for certain, it would not adhere to the policy of both U.S. political parties, gloating over upcoming “American Energy Independence” because of the use of hydraulic fracking recovery techniques for oil and gas whereby they utilize extreme high pressure to forcibly inject a concoction of fluids containing toxic carcinogenic chemicals underground. What is that?

Meanwhile, the climate unquestionably and metaphorically screams for help by burping, gassing, panging, and erupting, e.g., an earthquake (March 6th, 2014), magnitude 4.5, at Gakkel Ridge, which fault line crosses over the Arctic, resulting in a massive spike up of methane in the atmosphere to 2,395 ppb, showcasing what’s in store when the ice melts.

It’s all about global warming.

Yet, the impending dangers of climate change are mostly hidden from public view. This may explain why the problem is underappreciated and underreported. From the Arctic to Antarctica, from Sydney westward to Fairbanks, climate abnormalities are dangerously lurking on the surface and in the water, awaiting a “tipping point,” as warned by the National Academies in their recent 200-page report.

Off the U.S. West Coast acidification is dissolving seashells, and in the Southern Ocean, pteropods, at the base of the food chain, show severe shell dissolution because of excessive levels of CO2 from burning fossil fuels.

And, in South America, the World Bank has expressed alarm over the loss of water resources as glacial water towers disappear at an alarming rate, similarly in the Tibetan Plateau, similarly in the Alps (where glacial loss averages 32’ thickness over the past 10 years.) How else was Ötzi the Iceman (3,300 years old) discovered? It’s global warming!

Up North, the Arctic sea ice is disappearing and threatening a massive release of methane, which has been trapped by the ice for millennia, which, in turn, risks runaway global warming and onset of the Venus Syndrome.

Along those lines, The Arctic “sea ice area” registered a record low on March 10, 2014 at 12.95 million square kilometers. (Source: NSIDC, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO) And, summer is right around the corner. It’s all about global warming!

Worldwide, twenty percent (20%) of coral reefs are already gone and another fifty percent (50%) are on the verge of total collapse because of excessive CO2 and the heat absorbed by the ocean (which absorbs 90% of Earth’s heat) as a result of CO2 from burning fossil fuels.

And as for the upper atmosphere, excessive Arctic warming has altered the jet streams at 23,000-39,000 feet, causing extreme weather patterns all across the Northern Hemisphere, like polar vortex and massive 100-year floods, every few years. One hundred year floods are passé because of burning fossil fuels.

All across the board, the climate experiences problems building upon problems, which eventually cascade into a “tipping point,” because of excessive levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by fossil fuels, like oil, gas, coal and bitumen or ‘pitch’ via XL Pipeline, one of the world’s dirtiest fuel sources. This is literally scraping the bottom of the barrel in search of energy! And, everybody knows all about it!

The National Research Council of the National Academies (NRCNA), in a 200-page report, Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change, Anticipating Surprises, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., December 2013, clearly identifies abrupt climate changes expected this century: “The current rate of carbon emissions is changing the climate system at an accelerating pace, making the chances of crossing tipping points all the more likely… surprises are indeed inevitable.”

That bleak report was backed and funded by U.S. intelligence agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the National Academies. The National Academies consists of: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council.

Neoliberalism is a process that builds by making choices. As for the climate, the choices have been disastrous because of the high-handedness of neoliberialism’s hardnosed policies whereby only ROI (return on investment) counts, nothing else. Otherwise, why would rational people continue subsidizing the exploration and development of fossil fuels, especially scraping the bottom of the barrel? Come on, they know the consequences.

As such, it’s no secret that global warming is challenging the sustenance of the planet; it’s a sober reality. The neoliberal enthusiasts, along with everybody else, have known this all along.

In the final analysis, the choices for neoliberalism are many; however, when it comes to the climate, one of the options is create doubt by way of defiance.
And, that’s where things stand!

There’s no ROI.

Post Script: “A study – co-authored by Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson and UC-Davis researcher Mark A. Delucchi – analyzing what is needed to convert the world’s energy supplies to clean and sustainable sources says that it can be done with today’s technology at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy. But converting will be a massive undertaking on the scale of the moon landings. What is needed most is the societal and political will to make it happen,” Stanford News, January 26, 2011.

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com.

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
November 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jonathan Cook
From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages
Linda Pentz Gunter
A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Fires This Time
Nick Alexandrov
Birth of a Nation
Vijay Prashad
Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis
Peter Montague
Men in Power Abusing Women – What a Surprise!
Kristine Mattis
Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets
Pete Dolack
Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking
Mike Whitney
ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness, Part Two
James Munson
Does Censoring Undemocratic Voices Make For Better Democracy?
Brian Cloughley
The Influence of Israel on Britain
Jason Hickel
Averting the Apocalypse: Lessons From Costa Rica
Pepe Escobar
How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads
Jan Oberg
Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?
Ezra Rosser
Pushing Back Against the Criminalization of Poverty
Kathy Kelly
The Quality of Mercy
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Gerry Brown
Myanmar Conflict: Geopolitical Food Chain
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Robert Redford’s Big Game in Nairobi
Katrina Kozarek
Venezuela’s Communes: a Great Social Achievement
Zoltan Grossman
Olympia Train Blockade Again Hits the Achilles Heel of the Fracking Industry
Binoy Kampmark
History, Law and Ratko Mladić
Tommy Raskin
Why Must We Sanction Russia?
Bob Lord
Trump’s Tax Plan Will Cost a Lot More Than Advertised
Ralph Nader
National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place
Julian Vigo
If Sexual Harassment and Assault Were Treated Like Terrorism
Russell Mokhiber
Still Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco: John Boehner and College Ethics
Louis Proyect
The Witchfinders
Ted Rall
Sexual Harassment and the End of Team Politics
Anna Meyer
Your Tax Dollars are Funding GMO Propaganda
Barbara Nimri Aziz
An Alleged Communist and Prostitute in Nepal’s Grade Ten Schoolbooks!
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Graham Peebles
What Price Humanity? Systemic Injustice, Human Suffering
Kim C. Domenico
To Not Walk Away: the Challenge of Compassion in the Neoliberal World
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Giving Thanks for Our Occupation of America?
Christy Rodgers
The First Thanksgiving
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “We Were Eight Years in Power”
David Yearsley
On the Road to Rochester, By Bike
November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail