Paul Krugman | Can Inflation Reduction Save the Planet? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“After all the false starts and dashed hopes of the past two years, I’m reluctant to count my chickens before they’ve actually been signed in the Oval Office. Still, it appears that Democrats have finally agreed on another major piece of legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act. And if it does become law, it will be a very big deal.

First, would the law, in fact, reduce inflation? Yes, probably — or at least it would reduce inflationary pressures. That’s because the legislation’s increased spending, mainly on clean energy but also on health care, would be more than offset through its tax provisions; so it would be a deficit reduction act, which other things being equal would make it disinflationary.

But you want to think of the Inflation Reduction Act as being like the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, which probably did strengthen national defense a bit but mainly benefited America by investing in the nation’s future. This bill would do the same, and maybe even more so.”

Thomas L. Friedman | How to Defeat Putin and Save the Planet – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/29/opinion/how-to-defeat-putin-and-save-the-planet.html

Opinion Columnist

“It is impossible to predict how the war in Ukraine will end. I fervently hope it’s with a free, secure and independent Ukraine. But here is what I know for sure: America must not waste this crisis. This is our umpteenth confrontation with a petro-dictator whose viciousness and recklessness are possible only because of the oil wealth he extracts from the ground. No matter how the war ends in Ukraine, it needs to end with America finally, formally, categorically and irreversibly ending its addiction to oil.

Nothing has distorted our foreign policy, our commitments to human rights, our national security and, most of all, our environment than our oil addiction. Let this be the last war in which we and our allies fund both sides. That’s what we do. Western nations fund NATO and aid Ukraine’s military with our tax dollars, and — since Russia’s energy exports finance 40 percent of its state budget — we fund Vladimir Putin’s army with our purchases of Russian oil and gas.

Now, how stupid is that?

Our civilization simply cannot afford this anymore. Climate change has not taken a timeout for the war in Ukraine. Have you checked the weather report for the North and South Poles lately? Simultaneous extreme heat waves gripped part of Antarctica this month, driving temperatures there to 70 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average for this time of year, and areas of the Arctic, making them more than 50 degrees warmer than average.

Those are not typos. Those are crazy superextremes.

“They are opposite seasons — you don’t see the North and the South (Poles) both melting at the same time,” Walter Meier, a researcher with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, recently told The Associated Press. “It’s definitely an unusual occurrence.” And last Friday, no surprise, scientists announced that an ice shelf the size of New York City had collapsed in East Antarctica at the beginning of this freakish warm spell.

It was the first time humans observed “that the frigid region had an ice shelf collapse,” The A.P. noted, adding that if all the water frozen in East Antarctica melts, it would raise sea levels more than 160 feet around the world.”

” , , , , , The best and fastest way to do that, argues Hal Harvey, the C.E.O. of Energy Innovation, a clean energy consultancy, is by increasing clean power standards for electric utilities. That is, require every U.S. power utility to reduce its carbon emissions by shifting to renewables at a rate of 7 to 10 percent a year — i.e., faster than ever.

Utopian? Nope. The C.E.O. of American Electric Power, once utterly coal dependent, has now pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, using mostly natural gas as a backup. Thirty-one states have already set steadily rising clean energy standards for their public utilities. Let’s go for all 50 — now.

At the same time, let’s enact a national law that gives every consumer the ability to join this fight. That would be a law eliminating the regulatory red tape around installing rooftop solar systems while giving every household in America a tax rebate to do so, the way Australia has done — a country that is now growing its renewable markets faster per capita than China, Europe, Japan and America.

When cars, trucks, buildings, factories and homes are all electrified and your grid is running mostly on renewables — presto! — we become increasingly free of fossil fuels, and Putin becomes increasingly dollar poor.” -30-

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
To the Editors of the New York Times,
I appreciate that you dropped your pay wall, for subscribers to share articles about the Covid 19 epidemic. I now think you should drop your pay wall, for subscribers to share articles about climate change and the sixth extinction. I would even argue, that the free articles about covid, are far less important.
As a hawk for the environment, I dare suggest, that the extinction of millions of species, including our own, is a bigger crisis that the pandemic. In fact, pandemics are one of nature’s ways to keep humans from overpopulating themselves to the point of their own oblivion.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.Net

Yuval Noah Harari Believes This Simple Story Can Save the Planet – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/11/08/magazine/yuval-noah-harari-interview.html

“With the publication in the United States of his best-selling “Sapiens” in 2015, the Israeli historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari arrived at the top rank of public intellectuals, a position he consolidated with “Homo Deus” (2017) and “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” (2018). Harari’s key theme is the idea that human society has largely been driven by our species’s capacity to believe in what he calls fictions: those things whose power is derived from their existence in our collective imaginations, whether they be gods or nations; our belief in them allows us to cooperate on a societal scale. The broad sweep of Harari’s writing, which encompasses the prehistoric past and a dark far-off future, has turned him into a bit of a walking inkblot test. “The general misunderstandings of me,” says Harari, 45, co-author of the recently published “Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2” (the latest in a series of graphic-novel adaptations of his work), “are that I’m the prophet of doom and then there’s this opposite view that I think everything is wonderful.” Both, of course, might be true. “Once the books are out, the ideas are out of your hands,” he says.”