If Republicans do not compromise on a new debt ceiling, it will undermine the American economy which will surely undermine efforts to address climate change. If Democrats accept the Republican’s plans to cut spending (including the bill known as H.R. 2584), it will significantly cut the budgets of environmentally oriented government organizations and agencies.
If a deal cannot be reached by the August 2nd deadline, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have threatened to downgrade America’s credit rating. This would undermine the credit system, raise interest rates and put pressure on an already fragile recovery.
Republican partisanship has already wreaked havoc in stock markets around the world. On Friday, July 29 the Dow Jones industrial average rose sharply after President Obama said that there is a “rough agreement” to raise the US debt, but then began falling again.
If the US defaults it will be particularly disastrous for the environment. Preoccupation with the effects of a post default America will lead to even more inaction on climate change. In such a crisis the already under-supported issue of climate change will be wiped from the national consciousness which will be far more damaging over the long-term.
In an article titled, “Climate Is a Way Bigger Deal than the Debt Ceiling,” Green Alpha explains how environmental issues trump economic concerns. They indicate that the impacts of climate change are more significant then the debt ceiling debate.
Although the impact of a US default would be long lasting and cost trillions, the costs associated with inaction on climate action are even greater.
“Global warming…marries economic failure to degradation of our basic life support system. What is peaking is not merely this or that resource, but earth’s ability to absorb the pressures we’re putting on it. The economic impacts of unchecked climate change are huge enough that the combination of economic and ecological collapse may, sooner than we like to think, surpass civilization’s ability to compensate.”
According to Google, failure to move aggressively to implement a clean energy economy will cost the US GDP “trillions” over just the next five years. In 2009, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) published a report authored by the co-chair of the IPCC and other climate science experts, revealing that the net present value of climate change impacts, i.e. the costs to civilization, are US$1,240 trillion under our current emission path and $410 trillion if we manage to stabilize atmospheric carbon at 450ppm. Most climate scientists would like to see that number at 350ppm or less.
In 2011, the Royal Society published a report which concludes that if we continue with business as usual, the earth will warm seven degrees Fahrenheit (4°C) by the 2060s: “In such a 4°C world, the limits for human adaptation are likely to be exceeded in many parts of the world, while the limits for adaptation for natural systems would largely be exceeded throughout the world.”
There is a growing number of scientific papers and presentations that indicate that a business as usual approach will be catastrophic. We risk such a catastrophe if we continue to burn oil and coal at ever increasing rates.
The new green economy is our best hope of reducing atmospheric carbon and strengthening our economy. While, there is widespread agreement that we have to reduce spending, Republicans want to slash spending in areas that would undermine US competitiveness in the green economy. The Tea Party movement want no part of compromise and they are passionate about resisting government investment to help grow the green economy.
Tragically, fathoming a collapse is too much for people. Many deny the existence of anthropogenic climate change rather than face the facts and make the required changes.
The debt ceiling and climate change are intimately intertwined. The most expedient way we can effectively address the problem of climate change is by helping to grow the green economy. Investing in a low carbon economy is the best way to increase govenment revenues and avert a debt crisis.
History will judge harshly Republicans who put partisan interests ahead of the interests of the nation and the earth itself. They are not just playing politics they are jeopardizing the future of the planet and its inhabitants.
If Republican obstructionism causes America to default, they risk damning civilization to the hell of global warming.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
Environmental Implications of the Credit Ceiling Agreement
Republican Assault on the Environment
EDF Campaign Opposing US Anti-Environment Bill
Gerry Connolly Video: Climate Disasters And GOP Denial
Chu Video: The Worst Anti-Environmental Bill of her Career
Blumenauer Video: ‘The Jihad Against Climate Change Continues’