Provocation 218. Trees and capitalism.
There us a new report on the use of trees to sequester lots of the co2 currently in the air. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/planting-billions-trees-best-tackle-climate-crisis-scientists-canopy-emissions
First a thought on trees and their relation to economy. Nature works hard over many years to produce the trees, but the owner of the land thinks the trees are free, cuts them, and sells for very little of the real cost of production. The trees are turned into capital without compensation to the earth. Capitalism, not nature, is treated as the great benficiary.
Planting new trees to sequester co2 would require planting on millions of acres of land that is in private ownership. It would take strong government measures to take the land or otherwise force treeing it. This sets up the conditions for a major conflict between government attempts at action and private resistance.
But we need this fight anyway. The major fight will be to stop putting co2 into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels by seriously stopping -against major resistance – co2 producing activities. . But there the number of actors and issues is beyond comprehension.
The species needs actions that it cannot take because we have divided the human community. The shared aspects of community are divided off into mass production uniformity and consumer individualism – so we have no dialectic bringing the two into a shared world. Who would have the power to mandate no driving gas using cars, no fossil fuel planes, no gas space heater, no fossil based using fertilizers?
Solar panels and tree sequestering are the best hope for stoping new co2 and removing old (which we need to do to prevent going past 1.5 degrees). How long will it take to create enough seedlings, enough panels and the politics to be able to grow, make and deploy them? And the politics!
I have been reading the Core report, another major attempt to create a more modern economics curriculum. https://www.amazon.com/Economy-Economics-Changing-World/dp/0198810245 – Strange experience. It makes good points about why GDP is a bad measure, then, page after page, relies on it. Why? Seems that the logic is so as to not take on capitalism. Its like a physician not talking to an alcoholic about stopping drinking. We are to assume the division of humanity into land labor and capital. From a scientific point of view investigating why this division holds and how people move from one category to the other is much more interesting than what they do within the category – but that activity is what serves the decision by those socially supported to be owners as how to treat those who are socially confined to the status of workers.
This logic is going to prevent any breakthrough to an adequate approach to climate heating. And trees are beautiful, in parks and landscapes, and a major part of complex eco-systems.