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sedziobs

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Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« on: April 11, 2019, 08:09:22 PM »
An attempt to create a new home for this topic that has taken over the cars thread.

If you divide carbon emissions by more and more wealth, relative numbers obviously go down. Nature doesn't care much for relative numbers. How about the absolute numbers? I think they show that more wealth means more carbon emissions (that's excluding all the carbon emissions it took to create that wealth).

Sorry Neven but the stats are not that simple and are not quite as easy to manipulate.

Let us take the US and India.

Nobody can say that India is a monumental mountain of wealth, it is, however, a mountain of people who are, in the most part, poor.

Since 1960, Indian CO2 emissions have grown nearly 570%.  The US, on the other hand, has grown by 3% over the same period.  Regardless of the mass of wealth or concentration of wealth or use of resources.

India is forecast to increase their emissions by more than 0.5% per year over the next decade, whereas the US is forecast to reduce slightly.

It is not the wealth you have which is the issue.  It is what you DO with that wealth.  The UK has reduced emissions by 58% over the same time period.  Germany about 40% or so, France only around 20%, Belgium nearly flat, the Netherlands has grown by nearly 90%.

The stats are here.

sedziobs

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2019, 08:11:27 PM »
Here's a study of correlation within the US.

Quote
This study investigates the relationship between U.S. state-level CO2 emissions and two measures of income inequality: the income share of the top 10% and the Gini coefficient. Each of the inequality measures, which focus on unique characteristics of income distributions, is used to evaluate the arguments of different analytical approaches. Results of the longitudinal analysis for the 1997 to 2012 period indicate that state-level emissions are positively associated with the income share of the top 10%, while the effect of the Gini coefficient on emissions is non-significant. The statistically significant relationship between CO2 emissions and the concentration of income among the top 10% is consistent with analytical approaches that focus on political economy dynamics and Veblen effects, which highlight the potential political and economic power and emulative influence of the wealthy. The null effect of the Gini coefficient is generally inconsistent with the marginal propensity to emit approach, which posits that when incomes become more equally distributed, the poor will increase their consumption of energy and other carbon-intensive products as they move into the middle class.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800916308345

sedziobs

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2019, 08:16:43 PM »
This study shows a divide in effects among rich and poor economies.

Quote
We investigate the theoretically ambiguous link between income inequality and per capita carbon dioxide emissions using a panel data set that is substantially larger (in both regional and temporal coverage) than those used in the existing literature. Using an arguably superior group fixed effects estimator, we find that the relationship between income inequality and per capita emissions depends on the level of income. We show that for low and middle-income economies, higher income inequality is associated with lower carbon emissions while in upper middle-income and high-income economies, higher income inequality increases per capita emissions. The result is robust to the inclusion of plausible transmission variables.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S092180091630619X

etienne

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2019, 09:28:23 PM »
There are different steps in the developpment of countries. G7 countries are rather rich and have a high potential for savings just because of efficiency improvements. Each time that a fridge is replaced in the G7 countries, energy consumption goes down.

This is not true for poorer countries where people don't have an history of high energy consumption. In India, many new cars, new fridges... don't replace an old one, so even if they are very efficient, they don't bring consumption down.

For energy stats of the rich  countries:
https://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~histecon/energyhistory/energydata.html

Energy should always be considered per capita.

etienne

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2019, 09:37:37 PM »

Let us take the US and India.

Nobody can say that India is a monumental mountain of wealth, it is, however, a mountain of people who are, in the most part, poor.

Since 1960, Indian CO2 emissions have grown nearly 570%.  The US, on the other hand, has grown by 3% over the same period.  Regardless of the mass of wealth or concentration of wealth or use of resources.

India is forecast to increase their emissions by more than 0.5% per year over the next decade, whereas the US is forecast to reduce slightly.

It is not the wealth you have which is the issue.  It is what you DO with that wealth.  The UK has reduced emissions by 58% over the same time period.  Germany about 40% or so, France only around 20%, Belgium nearly flat, the Netherlands has grown by nearly 90%.

The stats are here.

Well, India produces 1.7 tons CO2 per capita, and Luxembourg 17.4 (USA 16.5), so even if Luxembourg would make a great effort and reduce it by 40%, it still would be 6 times higher than India. Let's be fair. The stats are on the link you provided.

Luxembourg was at 36.7 in 1960. Could we say that we already did our part of the job ?

sidd

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2019, 02:42:50 AM »
Oxfam 2015:

"The poorest half of the global population – around 3.5 billion people – are responsible for only around 10% of total global emissions attributed to individual consumption"

"Around 50% of these emissions meanwhile can be attributed to the richest 10% of people around the world, who have average carbon footprints 11 times as high as the poorest half of the population, and 60 times as high as the poorest 10%."

"the poorest people who are both the least responsible for and the most vulnerable to climate change"

"The only beneficiaries of inadequate climate action in Paris and beyond are a much smaller elite with vested interests in the continuation of a high carbon and deeply unequal global economy."

https://www-cdn.oxfam.org/s3fs-public/file_attachments/mb-extreme-carbon-inequality-021215-en.pdf

i attach figs 1 and 4

sidd

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2019, 07:22:01 AM »
The idea of working with cumulative GHG emission is a good pedagogy, but there are limits. I wouldn't use it for international regulations. You can't "punish" the kids for the mistakes of their parents. Being rich is sufficient to jusrify a bigger effort, doesn't matter if you got rich with petrol or with PV panels.

b_lumenkraft

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2019, 07:46:32 AM »
You can't "punish" the kids for the mistakes of their parents

Still, that's exactly what is going to happen.

Young people today will suffer in the future from our doing in the past.

Rob Dekker

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2019, 10:19:16 AM »
This subject started in the 'cars' thread with Neven claiming that putting a stop on exponential growth of concentrated wealth would reduce carbon emissions faster than cap-and-trade :

So if not cap-and-trade, what do we need to do to make it go faster ?

Put a stop on the exponential growth of concentrated wealth.

I responded to that with this post :

Using common sense, I don't agree with your claim.
After all, "concentrated wealth" by itself has very little to do with carbon emissions.

For example, a guy sitting on a pile of gold emits no more carbon than a guy sitting on a pile of garbage.

I think with your idea of "putting a stop on the exponential growth of concentrated wealth" it very much depends on where your will redistribute these dollars.

Please look at this graph (carbon footprint per dollar) :



Here you see that the higher the income, the lower the carbon emissions are per dollar.
That makes sense, since higher income people tend to invest more and spend less on carbon-heavy consumer products.

So I think if you "put a stop on the exponential growth of concentrated wealth" as you suggest, you need to be careful what you will do with that wealth.

If you simply would re-distribute that wealth to lower income groups, you would actually INCREASE carbon emissions.

If instead, if you would use that 'concentrated' wealth (taken from the wealthy) to fund carbon-free energy projects (solar, wind, energy efficiency etc) then you could reduce carbon emissions for all of us.

That's my take on that.
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NeilT

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2019, 11:53:12 AM »
Well, India produces 1.7 tons CO2 per capita, and Luxembourg 17.4 (USA 16.5), so even if Luxembourg would make a great effort and reduce it by 40%, it still would be 6 times higher than India. Let's be fair. The stats are on the link you provided.

Luxembourg was at 36.7 in 1960. Could we say that we already did our part of the job ?

Let me address the second statement first. With a slightly different picture.  Slightly out of date but, nevertheless, enlightening.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_Luxembourg

Quote
According to IEA, the electricity use (gross production + imports – exports – transmission/distribution losses) in Luxembourg in 2008 was 7.7 TWh and population 0.49 million people. Luxembourg was dependent on imported energy in 2008. Own production was 2% of primary energy in 2008. In 2008, electricity use per person in Luxembourg was 2.6 times greater than in the United Kingdom.[1]


And

Quote
Total installed wind power was 42 MW at end of 2010. In the end of 2010 the installed wind power equalled in average 1.1% of electricity use. The European average was 5.3%. Wind power share was only lower than in Luxembourg in Latvia, Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta[2] Wind power target capacity in 2020 is 131 MW and 3.6% of electricity. According to EWEA 300 MW of installed wind capacity in Luxembourg could cover up to 14% of the country’s electricity consumption.[3]

Quote
Luxembourg is the EU country with the second smallest forecast penetration of renewables, with the NREAP assuming that only 12% of electricity consumption will be met by renewables in 2020.[3]

The point that is not addressed in the article is that Luxemburg draws its energy from Germany, Belgium and France to consume the 98% it does not produce.  Whilst French electricity is low CO2, Luxembourg imports seven times as much energy from Germany (heavy coal bias), as it does from France, I assume because France is more energy constrained.

So the overall picture may look good, but the underlying trend is actually much worse.


To the first point.

Yes, but the point almost everyone in the "consume less" bracket continues to ignore is that India may be only 1.7 tons per capita, but India has 1.3bn people and the US has 0.3bn people.  India will reach 1.5bn people within the next two decades exacerbating the problem even more.

Now let's take a simple extrapolation.  To double the US emissions would take an absolutely HUGE amount of consumption.  It is almost impossible to imagine a full doubling of US emissions.

However, if Indian emissions were to double, they would exceed US emissions by a very rough (from memory), 25%.  A 25% growth of US emissions is mind boggling as US citizens, already being beaten up in every area in the world for consumption, are constrained in every energy choice they make.  It takes no imagination whatsoever to see India increasing from 1.7tons per capita to 3.4 tons per capita  (or less given another 200m people in the country).

For instance Indian GDP can double in 15 years with an annual growth rate of 4.7%.  Of course the rest of the world would have to grow less.  In reality Indian growth rate is currently averaging around 6% and the developed economies are averaging less than 2%.  Meaning a real world doubling of the Indian economy is by no means impossible. Witness their missions to the Moon and Mars.

Allowing for that economic growth differential, the near 500% additional growth of Indian CO2 emissions from 1960 and the continuing increase in population, it is not impossible for India to overtake the US in emissions (total), within the next 15 years.

Were that level of CO2 emissions to occur, the impact would be catastrophic and make a total mockery of the Paris accord.

If anyone who believes that the developed economies of the world going on a CO2 diet can solve the world CO2 issues, they should take a very large dose of reality.  That dose of reality is the average decadal CO2 growth numbers.

Taken from the NOAA ESRL growth rates in ppm average per decade:

0.8   1960's
1.2   1970's
1.7   1980's
1.5   1990's
1.9   2000's
2.4   2010's

The Kyoto protocol was agreed in 1997.  Then we had Doha, Copenhagen and Paris.

We have the protocol and the amendments, all targeted at reducing the rich from emitting more CO2.

Then we have the record.

Tell me it's working, please do.  Because, as far as I can see it isn't. Why is it not working?  Because those countries who have potential to grow and become as big and as powerful as the current first world economies are absolutely determined to do so.

This focus on the US and their per capita emissions is a real red herring in terms of dealing with CO2 emissions. China has "only" 7.5 tons per capita. Yet China has seen a 525% increase in emissions and has roughly one eighth of the world population.

Worse China is the worlds largest emitter and was heading for twice US emissions in 2015 (the latest figures).

In terms of gross emissions, China was top, US second with 5/9th's Chinese emissions followed by India with 2/9th's the Chinese emissions.

The UK was 0.3/9th's the Chinese emissions.

The UK reduced its emissions by 42% over the 1960 - 2017 time frame.  It is extremely difficult to get general stats for renewables because more general wiki articles are woefully out of date quoting 2010 stats for the UK at ~5%.  Even newer articles are quoting 2015 stats on renewables.  However, from the UK Renewable wiki page

Quote
In June 2017 renewables plus nuclear generated more UK power than gas and coal together for the first time. Britain has the fourth greenest power generation in Europe and the seventh worldwide. In 2017 new offshore wind power became cheaper than new nuclear power for the first time.

In that first link I posted on the EV thread, there are only 12 countries showing a reduction in CO2 emissions.  Luxembourg, as I have shown, is not actually correct as it reports internal production and not consumption of imported CO2 generated power.

What is not covered is the stratospheric rise of "emerging economy" CO2 production. That is what is driving this huge increase in the net average growth of CO2, decade on decade.  Not the "money" of the world.

The UK is the 5th largest economy in the world, the fifth richest country in the world, has a massive concentration of money, power and military might.  Yet the UK is 1% of world CO2 emissions and continues to drop due to initiatives to reduce CO2 consumption.  Germany is the 4th largest economy in the world.  Yet Germany is 6th on the emissions table and the UK is 15th and dropping.

Germany has a MUCH larger renewable push than the UK. The UK has a MUCH larger Nuclear power generation than Germany.

Go figure.

Contrast India and China.

I must admit to being tired of this constant political ideology getting in the way of real reductions in CO2 emissions which are a real and present danger to the human species on the planet.

It won't be the money that drives us over the edge.  It will be those who lust after the money and want to be rich too.  Whatever the cost.

I spend a lot of my life reading about how Renewables are cheaper and more cost effective than old FF.

Reality is that FF is quicker, easier and more deliverable, in a shorter time frame, than renewables at the 3rd world level.

Renewables is the solution for the rich economies of the world.  The wannabees couldn't care less, they just want the money and the power.

It's no good telling us that the Adults can't lecture the children on the mistakes of their own past.  When the adults are out with the fire hoses, trying to put the fire out, however slowly, it does not help when the children are pouring fuel on the fire.

That is the world we live in.  It is why I say we are already dead.  It is just a matter of time.  Unless something totally fundamental changes and I don't see that any time soon.  No matter how much money the "rich" world spends on reducing their emissions, the "poor" world is going to fill the gap and add more.
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ASILurker

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2019, 12:06:03 PM »
"The power of all corporations ought to be limited...The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses."

 - USA Founding Father James Madison

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2019, 12:55:47 PM »
So many words (but no room for the words 'offshoring of industry') to finally get on topic:

Quote
It won't be the money that drives us over the edge.  It will be those who lust after the money and want to be rich too.  Whatever the cost.

Exactly, that's what wealth does to people. And so you need to put a stop on how much a person can own.
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Neven

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2019, 03:51:18 PM »
This subject started in the 'cars' thread with Neven claiming that putting a stop on exponential growth of concentrated wealth would reduce carbon emissions faster than cap-and-trade :

And what was Neven's reply?

Quote
I think 'cap-and-trade' would work better that way (although fee-and-dividend would probably be more efficient), because putting a stop on the exponential growth of concentrated wealth would reduce the incentive for companies to cheat, bend the rules and corrupt politicians.

I know you can only think in binary choices, Rob, but the choice in this case isn't cap-and-trade vs a stop on concentrated wealth. You need to put a stop on concentrated wealth to make solutions more successful and efficient, because concentrated wealth won't allow those solutions to hinder its exponential growth (with associated carbon emissions).
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Rob Dekker

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2019, 10:47:01 AM »
<snip, don't play the victim, please; N.>

Quote
but the choice in this case isn't cap-and-trade vs a stop on concentrated wealth. You need to put a stop on concentrated wealth to make solutions more successful and efficient, because concentrated wealth won't allow those solutions to hinder its exponential growth (with associated carbon emissions).

Do you have a study that shows that putting a "stop on concentrated wealth" would actually make solutions (like cap-and-trade) more successful as you assert ?

Or some reasoning that shows that  putting a "stop on concentrated wealth" reduced the incentive for companies to cheat, bend the rules and corrupt politicians as you state above ?

Or some analysis that suggests that  putting a "stop on concentrated wealth"  would reduce carbon emissions faster as you proposed in the comment that started this thread ?

In other words, could you elaborate on your opinion and bring some evidence to the table ?

Because as far as I can see, the ONLY way to reduce carbon emissions is to invest in lower carbon emission industries (solar, wind, grid-battery, EVs, no-tilt agriculture etc etc), which has nothing to do with a "stop on concentrated wealth".
« Last Edit: April 13, 2019, 07:52:53 PM by Neven »
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Neven

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2019, 08:22:51 PM »
<snip, don't play the victim, please; N.>

Quote
but the choice in this case isn't cap-and-trade vs a stop on concentrated wealth. You need to put a stop on concentrated wealth to make solutions more successful and efficient, because concentrated wealth won't allow those solutions to hinder its exponential growth (with associated carbon emissions).

Do you have a study that shows that putting a "stop on concentrated wealth" would actually make solutions (like cap-and-trade) more successful as you assert ?

Or some reasoning that shows that  putting a "stop on concentrated wealth" reduced the incentive for companies to cheat, bend the rules and corrupt politicians as you state above ?

Or some analysis that suggests that  putting a "stop on concentrated wealth"  would reduce carbon emissions faster as you proposed in the comment that started this thread ?

In other words, could you elaborate on your opinion and bring some evidence to the table ?

You're asking for evidence, but what you're really asking for is to be educated. I'm not the ideal person for that, as I am just a busy idiot. So you need to educate yourself. There is a massive amount of information, not just on-line, but in books as well (do you like to read books?). Or in the scientific literature, in journals like Ecological Economics and many others. Or reviews and articles published by organisations like the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE), or the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in the UK.

You can check the work of people like EF Schumacher, Kenneth Boulding and Herman Daly, who themselves have been influenced by and built on the work of many other economists, via classical economists like Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill (who actually embedded their economic theories in political thought and morality, and who, unlike neoclassical economists, respected limits), all the way back to Aristotle and Plato.

Take for instance this quote by the latter:



Now, most of what you find, will be centred on endless economic growth, as prescribed by said neoclassical economic theory. But my contention is that economic growth, especially in developed nations, only serves to further concentrate wealth, while at the same time making it grow exponentially.

Quote
Because as far as I can see, the ONLY way to reduce carbon emissions is to invest in lower carbon emission industries (solar, wind, grid-battery, EVs, no-tilt agriculture etc etc), which has nothing to do with a "stop on concentrated wealth".

Yes, it does, because concentrated wealth will not allow it. Never mind the fact that you propose to solve a problem with the thinking that caused it in the first place.

You cannot greenify the current system. I know, because I have seen how incredibly difficult it has been to reduce my carbon emissions by 80% (although not done yet). Or check the work that has been done by Bruce Steele. Or check Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air by the late Andrew MacKay.

To make it possible for renewable energy to cover demand, this demand needs to be reduced drastically. And concentrated wealth will never, ever allow that. Have you seen the resistance from the fossil fuel industry and tobacco industry, or the way Big Pharma influences politics and agriculture, or what about the military-industrial complex and all the wars that the USA is waging to feed it? All of that is to increase concentrated wealth at an exponential pace.

Mind you, I'm not talking about the wealthy. They are just as much victim as anybody of their own wealth.

You cannot solve anything if you don't change the system that is currently in place. If you change the system, you may have a shot at solving things. And you change the system by putting a cap on wealth.

I'll end with another quote by Plato:

Quote
Let the limit of poverty be the value of the lot; this ought to be preserved, and no ruler, nor any one else who aspires after a reputation for virtue, will allow the lot to be impaired in any case. This the legislator gives as a measure, and he will permit a man to acquire double or triple, or as much as four times the amount of this. But if a person have yet greater riches, whether he has found them, or they have been given to him, or he has made them in business, or has acquired by any stroke of fortune that which is in excess of the measure, if he give back the surplus to the state, and to the Gods who are the patrons of the state, he shall suffer no penalty or loss of reputation; but if he disobeys this our law any one who likes may inform against him and receive half the value of the excess, and the delinquent shall pay a sum equal to the excess out of his own property, and the other half of the excess shall belong to the Gods.
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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2019, 12:57:57 AM »
Ok I'll bite.

Let's say a global law is enacted where a ceiling is placed on wealth. Once a person has certain net worth they are no longer allowed to own anything else. 

How does that eliminate the CO2 problem? Why would anyone else emit less just because rich people are less rich?

We will still have cars, concrete buildings, massive industry, massive unsustainable agriculture and 410+ ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.

I'm not saying accumulated wealth is not a problem. To the contrary, when a few people have much and most people have little, collapse follows. Accumulated wealth is certainly a limit of growth. I just don't see how it has a significant impact on CO2 emissions.
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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2019, 11:43:40 AM »
Ok I'll bite.

Let's say a global law is enacted where a ceiling is placed on wealth. Once a person has certain net worth they are no longer allowed to own anything else. 

How does that eliminate the CO2 problem? Why would anyone else emit less just because rich people are less rich?

We will still have cars, concrete buildings, massive industry, massive unsustainable agriculture and 410+ ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Putting a cap on wealth doesn't change things overnight. You could even say it's not a solution in itself, but rather a requirement for making solutions possible. Because right now the incentive is for 'more cars, more concrete buildings, more massive industry, more massive unsustainable agriculture'.

Everything needs to grow, all the time, forever. The economy needs to grow, and so corporations need to maximize profits, doesn't really matter how, by making people sick, by destroying the environment, by starting wars, by circumventing any legal or cultural restrictions through propaganda and corruption.

Why? Because wealth needs to get bigger, and the most efficient way for wealth to grow exponentially, is to make it increasingly concentrated.

So, you need to find a way to take away this incentive that is behind the dynamic of the current system. Once you do that, you make it possible to change your economic system from the pathological fixation on an arbitrary definition of GDP. Once you do that, you make it possible for corporations to put profit maximization on the back-burner and take their social and environmental responsibilities more seriously, without shareholders going nuts and firing CEOs.

Once these things start happening, opportunities come into existence to change consumer culture, which in turn drives down material consumption and thus energy demand. It then becomes much easier for renewable energy to cover said demand, and you set a different example for developing economies, so they don't fall into the same trap the West has fallen into.

Quote
I'm not saying accumulated wealth is not a problem. To the contrary, when a few people have much and most people have little, collapse follows. Accumulated wealth is certainly a limit of growth. I just don't see how it has a significant impact on CO2 emissions.

It is the main driver behind the perceived need for perpetual, exponential growth, and that has a very significant impact on CO2 emissions. Eliminate or reduce the driver.

What you then do with the wealth that exceeds the limit, is another discussion entirely. My focus is on eliminating/reducing the driver to make real change possible and break the vicious cycle that humanity has been in since the creation of agriculture (and probably before that as well).

You can't solve global problems, while at the same time making Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates trillionaires. It can't be done, not without paying a huge price, paid by poor and rich alike.
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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2019, 01:08:49 PM »
Beautiful read Neven.

I want to add, on a general note, that there are all kinds of malicious human behaviours we outlaw. And laws work in this regard. They are making society better because people don't steal and murder en mass.

Accumulating huge wealth by only a few, from an economic standpoint, deprives means of participation from the whole society, the evidence is quite clear at this point. It is a behaviour that is deeply human, but bad for society. Therefore, it is just another malicious behaviour that needs to be outlawed.

So, reason and logic beg for a wealth cab.

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2019, 02:40:11 PM »
Quote
Putting a cap on wealth doesn't change things overnight. You could even say it's not a solution in itself, but rather a requirement for making solutions possible. Because right now the incentive is for 'more cars, more concrete buildings, more massive industry, more massive unsustainable agriculture'.

To be clear, you agree that capping wealth is not a direct solution to climate change, but it may serve as a catalysts to a more efficient civilization. 

I can certainly agree with that with the huge caveat we still have to grow  the electric car market, grow  sustainable agriculture, grow renewable penetration and grow all the technology needed for a much more efficient and sustainable world. We must grow such technologies wealth cap or not. The only way to do it is to accumulate wealth and invest in such technologies so that they grow to the point of mass adoption. It's a chicken and egg problem.
I am an energy reservoir seemingly intent on lowering entropy for self preservation.

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2019, 03:29:15 PM »
Of course, you want to grow the good things and not the bad things. The thing is that bad things are often more profitable to concentrated wealth, especially if all of the infrastructure is geared towards it. If you try to then stimulate the good things through legislative measures, you get this huge resistance (because you're not touching the driving force behind the bad things). Hence climate risk denial, for instance, to propagandize the populace. Or excessive lobbying and money in politics, to obstruct and water down policies.

So, again, by not taking measures to curb concentrated wealth, you are massively increasing inefficiency in the ways you try to do good things, which is why we're going to shoot past 2° C as if it's nothing. The current system can't be greenified, as appealing and appeasing an illusion as it may seem.

You put a stop on concentrated wealth to make the good things more effective, and then you can give the good things an extra shove by using all that excess wealth to stimulate them. But as said before: What you then do with the wealth that exceeds the limit, is another discussion entirely.
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Archimid

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2019, 03:42:07 PM »
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The current system can't be greenified, as appealing and appeasing an illusion as it may seem.

Ok, but how do we transition? Do we wait until the old system is defeated to develop the technologies required to transition to a sustainable world? Or do we exploit the current system to develop the technologies required for a sustainable civilization?
I am an energy reservoir seemingly intent on lowering entropy for self preservation.

Neven

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2019, 03:59:31 PM »
The technologies are already there, especially if energy demand (for superfluous material consumption/waste) is curbed. The current system cannot be exploited to do what you want, or what anyone wants for that matter (not even the wealthy), because the top priority is always to further grow and concentrate wealth.

Again, you can't solve global problems, while at the same time making Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates trillionaires. And this is a cultural problem, which is why I call for a cap on wealth, ie for society to determine how much a single person can own, instead of 'taxing the rich' or some such. This isn't about the rich, it's about concentrated wealth. The rich are merely the replaceable servants of their possessions.

I'm not calling for some political ideology either, before anyone accuses me of being a commie. It's just a massive tweak to how things are done. It's much better for society and the world at large if a trillion dollars rests in 1000 hands, instead of just 2. More democracy, more freedom.
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magnamentis

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2019, 04:23:16 PM »

It is the main driver behind the perceived need for perpetual, exponential growth, and that has a very significant impact on CO2 emissions. Eliminate or reduce the driver.

may i add for consideration that very systemic "ROOT" of all that what you correctly stated in this and many other posts is interest on interest, or in other words, it's the monetary system that makes growth mandatory to survive as long as possible and making it's collapses the more destructive, the longer it lasts, the longer periods between collapses are.

as i said adding this to your views to which i obviously agree almost to the "T"
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 04:49:42 PM by magnamentis »

Archimid

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2019, 04:39:01 PM »
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The technologies are already there

The technologies are already there, but they are in their infancy. They must grow and evolve (and do it extremely fast) to serve as a solution.

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especially if energy demand (for superfluous material consumption/waste) is curbed

Definitely. Efficiency is the first fuel. Regrettably cutting superfluous consumption is not enough.

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The current system cannot be exploited to do what you want

Of course it can. Money is to people what dog treats are to dogs. Greed can be exploited easily.

For example, a Carbon Tax. Carbon taxes makes emitting sources more expensive. Because people are maximizing profits they will switch to less carbon intensive sources to save money. 

Another example, renewables subsidies. If the government subsidizes renewables greed will attract more people to renewables accelerating the transition to a non emitting sources of energy.


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Again, you can't solve global problems, while at the same time making Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates trillionaires.

Of course you can.

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And this is a cultural problem, which is why I call for a cap on wealth, ie for society to determine how much a single person can own, instead of 'taxing the rich' or some such.

Inequality is certainly a problem, but it is neither the cause nor the solution to climate change. As you have said before if you cap wealth there is still a huge transition to be made by the 99% of the people who wouldn't be affected by such a cap.
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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2019, 04:53:21 PM »

Everything needs to grow, all the time, forever. The economy needs to grow, and so corporations need to maximize profits, doesn't really matter how, by making people sick, by destroying the environment, by starting wars, by circumventing any legal or cultural restrictions through propaganda and corruption.

Why? Because wealth needs to get bigger, and the most efficient way for wealth to grow exponentially, is to make it increasingly concentrated.

That seems intuitively obvious at first glance, but I don't think it holds up to analysis.
Does a single billionaire drive more unhealthy growth than a thousand millionaires?  Same billion $.
Does a single billionaire drive more unhealthy growth than a million people with a thousand dollars in the bank?  Or a billion people with zero accumulated wealth?  We're talking about the same billion $, differently distributed.

I don't think it's true that the more wealth a person has, the harder they'll push to get more.  I suspect the opposite is true.

I'll grant that the picture is a bit different when corporations are in the picture, rather than just human beings.  Modern corporations tend to be structured with a single-minded focus on profits and growth.  Bigger corporations have more levers to influence laws and regulations, more levers to shift income and operations to minimize taxes.  Corporations tend to be much more ruthlessly efficient, within their legal limits, than most humans.

I think tighter global regulation of corporations is more important than fixing wealth inequality among humans.

I'd agree that wealth inequality is a social evil.  It desperately needs to be addressed vigorously.  But I don't see that fixing this problem is a prerequisite for appropriate climate change action.

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2019, 07:34:28 PM »
The technologies are already there, but they are in their infancy. They must grow and evolve (and do it extremely fast) to serve as a solution.

They would have already done so, if it wasn't for concentrated wealth holding them back for the reasons I mentioned (bad things are more profitable, especially if the infrastructure is in place). If a cap had been put on wealth, say 20 years ago, you wouldn't have any Koch brothers do all the stuff they did to thwart AGW mitigation policies.

If you want them to grow and evolve extremely fast, you put a cap on wealth to stop obstructing meaningful measures by corrupting politics. And if enough people agree to it, you can even use all that excess wealth to invest in said technologies to make them grow and evolve even faster.

But it's not going to happen if you don't put a cap on wealth. Because then the system stays the same, people are either made (developing nations) or kept (developed nations) addicted to wasteful lifestyles, meaning that energy demand goes up and renewables can't even cover the year-on-year demand. And that's just an example, there are many other ways that stimulate carbon emissions because wealth needs to grow and be concentrated further.

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Regrettably cutting superfluous consumption is not enough.

Does that mean it shouldn't be done? Never mind the fact that superfluous consumption, which is a consequence of wealth concentration, doesn't just cause AGW, but myriads of other global problems.

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Of course it can. Money is to people what dog treats are to dogs. Greed can be exploited easily.

Yes, that's how concentrated wealth increases itself, by making the rich mentally and spiritually ill (most of them, some have exceptional character). You think you can beat concentrated wealth in that department? You'd be the first in 15 thousand years.

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For example, a Carbon Tax. Carbon taxes makes emitting sources more expensive. Because people are maximizing profits they will switch to less carbon intensive sources to save money.

I'm sorry, but you talk as if it's 1988. After all this time there still isn't anything resembling a Carbon Tax, except for cap-and-trade schemes that are easily gamed (to benefit concentrated wealth). And there won't be, as long as you don't do anything about the underlying issue. Everything you try, will be compromised.

And not by some human conspiracy, some elites that dominate the world, the 0.01% that have it all figured out. No, simply by limitless concentrated wealth as an entity that uses its owners to grow, with an army of inventive lackeys (managers, lawyers, lobbyists, journalists, etc) vying for a small piece of the pie.

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Again, you can't solve global problems, while at the same time making Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates trillionaires.

Of course you can.

Archimid, we're going to breeze past 2°C to who knows how high under the current system. Never mind ocean acidification, top soil erosion, resource wars (nuclear?), obesity epidemics, and so on and so forth. How can you expect this current system - that will eventually create trillionaires - to solve the problems it has created? Like Einstein said, that's the definition of insanity.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 08:11:18 PM by Neven »
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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2019, 07:51:35 PM »
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Why? Because wealth needs to get bigger, and the most efficient way for wealth to grow exponentially, is to make it increasingly concentrated.

That seems intuitively obvious at first glance, but I don't think it holds up to analysis.
Does a single billionaire drive more unhealthy growth than a thousand millionaires?  Same billion $.
Does a single billionaire drive more unhealthy growth than a million people with a thousand dollars in the bank?  Or a billion people with zero accumulated wealth?  We're talking about the same billion $, differently distributed.

If we're talking about power - and after a certain point, wealth definitely confers power - then putting that power in more hands, means it's less effective, because more people simply have different ideas, wishes and desires. And when it's less effective, it grows less fast. So, in order to grow faster, it needs to be concentrated as much as possible.

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I don't think it's true that the more wealth a person has, the harder they'll push to get more.  I suspect the opposite is true.

I think that for some it's true, but probably not for most. It's very difficult to resist wealth's propensity for more. Think about it. Why are the rich getting richer all the time? Why does it take fewer and fewer billionaires to own as much as half the global population?

After some point, the wealth of an individual person starts to feed off of itself, which is why so many rich people don't work, their 'money works for them', as is often said. But the money actually works for itself, with the owner being nothing more than a name, and the money doesn't care how, as long as it gets bigger. It's a bit like The Blob.

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I'll grant that the picture is a bit different when corporations are in the picture, rather than just human beings.  Modern corporations tend to be structured with a single-minded focus on profits and growth.  Bigger corporations have more levers to influence laws and regulations, more levers to shift income and operations to minimize taxes.  Corporations tend to be much more ruthlessly efficient, within their legal limits, than most humans.

Like Lurk already explains, why are corporations single-mindedly focused on profit maximisation? For the shareholders, right? They demand a return on their investments, as high as possible. And whom or what does that serve? Concentrated wealth.

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I think tighter global regulation of corporations is more important than fixing wealth inequality among humans.

I'd agree that wealth inequality is a social evil.  It desperately needs to be addressed vigorously.  But I don't see that fixing this problem is a prerequisite for appropriate climate change action.

Just like Archimid in the last paragraph of his last comment, you seem to be confusing inequality and wealth concentration. Inequality is a consequence of limitless wealth concentration. And yes, this consequence is highly dangerous to society, as are many other consequences, like AGW.

You cannot address inequality vigorously, if you don't address the underlying cause. Concentrated wealth will find a way around anything you may try, by corrupting your decision process (aka democracy). The same goes for AGW and all other global problems. And so it needs to be capped and de-concentrated as much as possible.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 08:11:01 PM by Neven »
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sidd

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #27 on: April 14, 2019, 09:47:01 PM »
Concentrated wealth results in regulatory capture. Absent strong regulation fossil carbon loading will coontinue.

sidd


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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2019, 10:25:39 PM »

I'll grant that the picture is a bit different when corporations are in the picture, rather than just human beings.  Modern corporations tend to be structured with a single-minded focus on profits and growth.  Bigger corporations have more levers to influence laws and regulations, more levers to shift income and operations to minimize taxes.  Corporations tend to be much more ruthlessly efficient, within their legal limits, than most humans.

Like Lurk already explains, why are corporations single-mindedly focused on profit maximisation? For the shareholders, right? They demand a return on their investments, as high as possible. And whom or what does that serve? Concentrated wealth.

I think its a myth to say corporations=shareholders.  In terms of concentrated wealth, very many are middle income (or upper middle income) folks who are simply saving for retirement in their 401k plans.

Beyond this, shareholders rarely make even the most major decisions of what a corporation does or doesn't do.  Did Tesla shareholders have a say in the purchase of Solar City?  Do GM shareholders get a say about whether to close plants in Ohio and expand in Mexico?  Do Exxon shareholders get a say in whether Exxon seeks a permit for arctic drilling?

If they were consulted, I'm confident different decisions would often be made.

Shareholder-initiated resolutions are uncommon, and usually fail when not supported by management.

Shareholders put up with this impotence in exchange for their limited liability. Without limitation of shareholder liability, we would have almost no corporations. This structure is defined by national laws, by government action. 

My point is that the problem of concentrated wealth among people is distinct from (but related to) the problem of corporate power.  Equalize all wealth among people, but retain their investments in 401k's, and corporate behavior won't improve.

We had far less concentrated wealth/inequality in the 1950s.  Were corporations less ruthlessly efficient back then?  I don't think so.  They were less globalized, but they'd have been globalized back then if communication and transportation were as advanced back then as they are now.

I'm not convinced that wealth concentration among humans is a major barrier to climate change (though it's still a huge evil).  Corporate power is a distinct issue that's not automatically related to wealth concentration among humans.  Corporate power is the greater evil in terms of climate action, and requires distinct approaches to address.

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2019, 10:35:57 PM »
What is the goal of corporate power?

BTW, a great documentary I watched 15 years ago (how time flies!) on the subject of corporations is called... The Corporation. It was one of the first in a series of documentaries that completely changed my world view.

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SteveMDFP

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #30 on: April 14, 2019, 11:06:52 PM »
What is the goal of corporate power?

BTW, a great documentary I watched 15 years ago (how time flies!) on the subject of corporations is called... The Corporation. It was one of the first in a series of documentaries that completely changed my world view.


I've only seen part so far.  I agree that it conveys critically important messages.  I'll be watching the rest.

My point about this is that even if we magically equalized all wealth among all citizens--then without serious reform of corporate governance, we'd still have Exxon wanting to drill in the arctic and paying lobbyists to ensure that they'd be able to do so.

In Germany, corporations are required to have representation on their Boards of Directors from labor (so I've read).  Brilliant idea for reform.  There's no reason why corporations couldn't be required to also have representation from consumers and/or public policy experts, and/or ethicists.  That might change corporate behavior.

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #31 on: April 14, 2019, 11:36:37 PM »
"What is the goal of corporate power?"
To increase corporate power! Corporations are immortal entities which have no interest in human concerns, who attract the worst amongst us to serve them.

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #32 on: April 15, 2019, 09:35:24 AM »
My point about this is that even if we magically equalized all wealth among all citizens

You don't want to do that. That's communism and it doesn't work. And it's definitely not what I'm advocating.

This isn't about equality. Inequality is a great driver, keeping things dynamic. But of course, it has to be fixed. You fix it by putting a cap on wealth, ie how much one person can own.

That doesn't mean you have to distribute the excess wealth to the rest of the population. And I certainly wouldn't do it in a direct way, but rather through infrastructure projects like a massive build-out of renewables. But again, that's another discussion altogether.

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--then without serious reform of corporate governance, we'd still have Exxon wanting to drill in the arctic and paying lobbyists to ensure that they'd be able to do so.

You cannot have 'serious reform of corporate governance' because concentrated wealth doesn't allow it. De-concentrate wealth and it becomes much easier to reform corporate governance, because you've taken away the thing that drives the system to demand perpetual, exponential growth (of bad things mostly, because they are most profitable).

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In Germany, corporations are required to have representation on their Boards of Directors from labor (so I've read).  Brilliant idea for reform.  There's no reason why corporations couldn't be required to also have representation from consumers and/or public policy experts, and/or ethicists.  That might change corporate behavior.

Yes, EF Schumacher proposed just that, almost 50 years ago. I can't remember if it was in Small Is Beautiful or in A Guide For the Perplexed.
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Neven

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Re: Concentrated Wealth and Carbon Emissions
« Reply #33 on: April 15, 2019, 09:39:12 AM »
"What is the goal of corporate power?"
To increase corporate power! Corporations are immortal entities which have no interest in human concerns, who attract the worst amongst us to serve them.

No, the main goal of corporations is to create revenue for investors, because that gets the CEOs and managers the biggest rewards. Total revenue of all corporations put together obviously ends up in fewer and fewer hands, as the yearly Oxfam numbers show. In other words: The goal of corporations is to increase and further concentrate wealth.

If you want to change that, you need to put a cap on wealth, ie how much one person can own. You can't reform corporations, because concentrated wealth will find a way around it. Through corporate power.
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