Paul Krugman has moved past the current health care reform debate and onto the next big problem – global warming. Kudos to Krugman for trying to stay ahead of the game of political discourse and trying to push the case for real environmental reform, but getting American capitalists to pollute less is going to make the health care debate look like a stroll through Central Park on warm summer day.
But the larger reason we’re ignoring climate change is that Al Gore was right: This truth is just too inconvenient. Responding to climate change with the vigor that the threat deserves would not, contrary to legend, be devastating for the economy as a whole. But it would shuffle the economic deck, hurting some powerful vested interests even as it created new economic opportunities. And the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now; the industries of the future don’t.
Nor is it just a matter of vested interests. It’s also a matter of vested ideas. For three decades the dominant political ideology in America has extolled private enterprise and denigrated government, but climate change is a problem that can only be addressed through government action. And rather than concede the limits of their philosophy, many on the right have chosen to deny that the problem exists.
So there you have it, like health care reform, the green economy President Obama said he wants to create will remain underrepresented in Washington. But maybe, just maybe, Obama can provide the much needed leadership to take on the Elite who like things the way they are, to give the innovative new companies a chance to change our path to destruction into one of salvation. He just better not leave it up to Congress like he did with health care reform or we’re all screwed.
Read Krugman’s column The New York Times.