This Moyers & Company broadcast was aired about a year ago.
Naomi Klein’s THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: Capitalism vs The Climate has convinced me that, in order to maintain a habitable planet, it’s necessary to limit and maybe eliminate the burning of coal, oil and gas, and that energy companies will never do this unless they are forced to do so.
What I’m not convinced of is that it is possible to painlessly transition to some green utopia, in which everybody’s material standard of living is the same as it is now, except for a small group of plutocrats.
My house is heated with natural gas, and my gas bills lately have been low, due to an abundance of gas supplied by hydraulic fracturing (of which I disapprove). My car runs on gasoline, and the computer on which I write this post is powered by electricity.
Over the years I’ve read books by Lester R. Brown, George Monbiot , and Al Gore making the case that with smart technology, I can heat my house with solar energy and better insulation, I can ride a streetcar that is almost as convenient as a private automobile, and that electricity can be provided by windmills, solar panels, other innovative sources of energy and a smart electrical grid that eliminates waste in the system.
I don’t have the knowledge to question their proposals on technical grounds. I agree with Arthur C. Clarke—that the only way to test the limits of the possible is to venture a little way into the impossible. And the alternative to trying is to accept the “long emergency” foretold by James Howard Kunstler.
But even at best, the transition will cost enormous sums of money. Who would pay? Naomi Klein says that rich people in rich countries should pay, especially countries that enjoy a high level of consumption based on fossil fuels. This means first and foremost the USA.