Monday, I was talking about ("Another year") how we were told over and over in 2007 (and in 2008) that the environment was so important and that the election would be about saving the planet or plunging it into hell. Then Barack gets sworn in and the eco-mission fades away. So I was glad to see Dean Baker's "Climate Change -- Our Real Bequest to Future Generations:"
It is remarkable how efforts to reduce the government deficit/debt are often portrayed as a generational issue, while efforts to reduce global warming are almost never framed in this way. This contrast is striking because the issues involved in reducing the deficit or debt have little direct relevance to distribution between generations, whereas global warming is almost entirely a question of distribution between generations.
Seeing the debt as an issue between generations is wrong in almost every dimension. The idea that future generations will somehow be stuck with some huge tab in the form of the national debt suffers from the simple logical problem that we are all going to die. At some point, everyone who owns the debt being issued today, or over the next two decades, will be dead. They will have to pass the ownership of the debt to someone else – in other words, their children or grandchildren. This means that the debt is not money that our children and grandchildren will be paying to someone else. It is money that they will be paying to themselves.
There are certainly issues of intra-generational distribution. If Bill Gates's grandkids own all the debt, then there will be a serious issue of income inequality 50 or 60 years out – but that is not an intra-generational issue.
It's good to find at least someone still concerned about the environment. Especially when it's someone who doesn't write about the topic every day. That, I think, makes us all sit up and say, "Better pay attention because Baker writes about the economy and here he is talking about the dangers to the environment. This must be very serious."
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"