One step forward, two steps back

Two recent articles in the New York Times suggest not just how far we are from where we should be on the environmental front, but how much we are backsliding.

In one, entitled “Industry Awakens to Threat of Climate Change,” details of how US multinational corporations like Coca-Cola and Nike are feeling the impact because of global shortages in, respectively, water and cotton. The article mentions a report that is currently being drafted, to be entitled Risky Business, which will discuss the financial risks associated with climate change (a sort of update of the Stern Review). According to the article, many business leaders are coming round to the necessity of imposing a carbon tax in order to mitigate emissions.

A few days before this article appeared, however, the Times ran a piece that detailed the European Union’s impending decision to back away from stringent climate controls. The article’s title explains the drift of the piece: “Europe, Facing Economic Pain, May Ease Climate Rules.” The shortsightedness is mind boggling, but illustrates the fundamental disconnect between the relatively brief temporality of the electoral cycle and the longer term vision necessary to address the climate crisis.

This temporal disconnect is one of the key problems which threatens global civilization.

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