David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Oct. 24, 2018 3 min read

1. This is an extremely excellent story by @fivefifths about how the ravages of climate change are already straining local governments & exacerbating inequality. I have a few dark thoughts to add.  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/10/climate-change-damaging-american-democracy/573769/ 

2. The stress of these damages -- heat waves, floods, storms -- is going to drain local gov't budgets & put crippling strain on America's already-weak systems for caring for the vulnerable. The result will be, at every level, heightened anxiety & competition for resources.

3. In that context, with every state & city fighting its own battle, desperately struggling to keep up, desperately petitioning states & the feds for additional resources, the equilibrium will tip toward zero-sum competition.

4. And something else we know will happen in that context: the wealthy will protect themselves & the poor will be left on their own, which will only increase inequality. Basically, increased security stress will make everything wrong w/ the US worse.

5. A key point, not widely understood: while preventing climate change is an inherently collective project, the benefits of which are inherently egalitarian, "adapting" to climate change is NOT. It is every-man-for-himself, inherently unequal.  https://grist.org/climate-energy/preventing-climate-change-and-adapting-to-it-are-not-morally-equivalent/ 

6. If we abandon the collective moral project of mitigation & fend only for ourselves ("adaptation"), who benefits? Yes: the groups that are already on top. It cements existing power imbalances. It props up existing hegemons.

7. And that, to put it bluntly, is why conservatives like it. That's why they're trying this: "the climate is changing but we don't know why." That justifies (unequal) adaptation spending but not (egalitarian) mitigation spending. Their sweet spot!  https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/10/22/18007922/climate-change-republicans-denial-marco-rubio-trump 

8. Not like conservatives are sitting around rubbing their hands together, cackling evilly about how climate destruction is going to benefit them. That's not necessary. It's just the logic of the situation, inexorably pulling their rhetoric in that direction.

9. Put it this way: conservatism is inherently about preserving existing power relations. Preventing severe climate change is inevitably about disrupting existing power relations. Letting letting everyone deal w/ climate change on their own will keep those relations in place.

10. Not that the wealthy & powerful will escape this. Climate change will hurt them too. But unrestrained climate change will always hit the poor & vulnerable first & worst, and it will always be the wealthy who escape the effects longest & feel them least.

11. All of this is why, despite the fantasies of (mostly white male) climate wonks, there is no clean, purely economic solution to climate change, free of "social engineering" & acceptable to conservatives. (A fantasy that persists to this day.)

12. Rather, like it or not, the fight against climate change is inherently about justice, equity, and small-d democracy. The fight for sustainability and the fight to lift up the vulnerable & reduce the predations of the powerful are two aspects of the same fight. It's built in.

13. This has always been something I've tried to convey to liberals (who, especially when I started, were quite disengaged from the climate fight): climate makes the stuff you care about worse; conversely, you can't win the fights you care about w/out also fighting climate.

14. As the military puts it, climate change is a "threat multiplier." They're mostly talking about international stuff, but it's also true domestically. It makes every social or economic justice issue that much harder to tackle.

15. So when we think about economic inequality or race/class injustice, we also have to think about climate. And when we think about climate, we also have to think about economic inequality and race/class injustice. Solutions must be sensitive to ALL these aspects.

16. The great threat is always the same: a dog-eat-dog world where only power matters & only the powerful flourish. All of us fighting against that, whether through climate change, health, economics, or some other angle, are in it together. It's all one fight. ✊ </fin>


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