The Steep Part of the Curve

Today, an assemblage of fragments of interest, as well as some brief comments on the emerging new climate consensus in the US.

First, the Fragments

As I’ve been arguing for some time, “America’s vaccine rollout has been among the best in the world”; that quote actually comes from an Axios headline, and it has been interesting to watch the elite/corporate media consensus shift on this, even as there continues to be a huge amount of griping and hand-wringing. Could our effort be much better? Definitely. Is it world-class and a tremendous triumph? Absolutely, as well. Barring immune escape by a SARS-CoV-2 variant, this pandemic will soon be over in the United States (and you read it here first, back in December).

I’ve also been arguing for a while that, under climate crisis, “extreme weather is leaving no area untouched” and that “No place is safe from failing US infrastructure”; I wish I could take credit for those great claims, but they are from Axios, again, and TechCrunch, respectively. This is why the idea that tech companies fleeing the Bay Area to – yes – Texas in response to catastrophic wildfires, or that huge outflows of capital and talent from New York City to “new homes that are less impacted by the climate crisis” are viable responses to climate crisis is so risible (as I wrote on January 1st of this year).

Tim Schwab has a good piece in The Nation reminding readers that – no matter that Bill Gates’ “new book, a bid to be taken seriously as a climate campaigner, has attracted the usual worshipful coverage” – Gates is not a real climate champion (but is a self-serving oligarch). I encourage people to read Michael Mann’s new book instead.

Vincent Rajkumar has an interesting Twitter thread on India’s COVID-19 statistics. I think he discounts the amount of outright lying and willful not counting going on, but it’s worth reading.

Finally, as New York Focus reports, “Top state lawmakers oppose Cuomo’s push to override NYC’s landmark climate law”; there is growing opposition – in Albany, at City Hall, from leading establishment good-government groups, and at the grassroots – to Cuomo’s backroom attempt to gut NYC’s landmark Local Law 97. If you live in New York State, I encourage you to read over this letter, and then call the governor’s office (at 518-474-8390) before reaching out to your own City Council person, state assembly member, and state senator to voice your support for climate action, NYC’s green new deal, and in particular, Local Law 97, and your strong opposition to Part R of the proposed executive budget.

The Emerging Climate Consensus

I’ve been enjoying helpful posts from the new media venture, Climate Tech VC, especially their recent post, “Some risky climate business” in which they opine, “Climate risk is investment risk.” Until quite recently, I think most subsets of the US ruling class believed that a transition away from a fossil fuel-based economy would be harmful to their own interests. I believe we are now witnessing a rapid transformation in opinion, as corporate leaders in industries as diverse as electric utilities, auto manufacturers, and commercial real estate recognize that green transition – while costly up front – is actually beneficial to them and only harmful really to one industry: The fossil-fuel (and petrochemical, and gas utility, but you get the point). At the same time, escalating impacts of climate crisis are making very apparent to anyone paying attention the likely costs of failure to rapidly address the greenhouse-gas emissions crisis in particular. Although this does not guarantee a Green New Deal, a move away from extractivism, or even a redistributive shift in our politics, I do think it augurs an extremely rapid transformation of our economy as we hit the steep part of the exponential curve of transition now that technological, social, political, corporate, and financial interests are all aligning around some basic facts.

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