Growth Shock, Going on Offense, and Setting an Example for Kindness Economics

Growth Shock Cover Art

If anything, the upcoming book, Growth Shock, is a call for action.

Confronting the combined threat posed by a rapid depletion of renewable and nonrenewable resources, a human population that is still growing beyond the 7 billion number it passed such a short while ago, a rapidly escalating and terrifying climate crisis, and a vast failure to act due to the power of wealthy, greedy, and entrenched special interests who, at every turn, fight to profit from harm, will be impossible without powerful, creative, and coordinated effort. What this means is action on the part of individuals, communities, organizations and governments. What it also requires is leadership from all individuals both great and small.

And if leadership means being among the first to act while compelling others to do the same, then I choose to dedicate the publication of Growth Shock and a majority of the proceeds to undertaking such an effort.

My actions through Growth Shock will involve:

Providing direct charitable contributions to 350.org

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(Go to 350.org)

In recognizing this imperative in the face of crisis, I’ve decided that the publication of Growth Shock will, in itself, be an action that pushes for effective change. I have identified one charitable organization — 350.org — which has been very effective in both its pursuit of the blocking of access to dangerous unconventional fuel sources (its stop the Keystone XL campaign) and in its direct targeting of the source of so much harm through its ongoing campaign of divestment in fossil fuels programs. 350.org’s other campaigns include an effort to stop all fossil fuel subsidies (globally) and to shift all power sources from fossil energy sources to first order renewables. 350.org is also aligned with a campaign supported by James Hansen to tax all fossil fuel use at the source and/or port of entry and then transfer the funds to the public who would then be incentivized to purchase non fossil energy sources and make more efficient use of energy. 350.org also identifies a probable ‘safe range’ of atmospheric CO2 levels at 350 parts per million and below. This range is based on the advice of climate scientist James Hansen who notes that it may be necessary to push CO2 levels below the 350 ppm limit that is the namesake of the organization.

 

My support of this noble and ongoing effort will involve the donation of fully 40% of the proceeds of Growth Shock to this charitable cause. If sales are small, and donations are low, then I can at least take a small part in this ongoing and effective campaign to remove fossil fuel exploitation and economic dependence. If sales are moderate to large, I hope to be able to provide seed money for new campaigns or expanding efforts under existing campaigns.

As part of this effort I also encourage other authors and bloggers to make funding pledges to 350.org or to similar charitable projects that help to confront the climate crisis through direct and coordinated political action and, when necessary, targeted acts of non violent civil disobedience.

Breaking the Bonds of Captive Consumerism and Providing Money for a Direct Transition Away From Fossil Fuels

Since political action may be stymied, blocked, and delayed by entrenched fossil fuel special interests, funding direct campaigns such as those conducted by 350.org may not be enough to address the larger problem inherent to an urgently needed energy transition. As individuals, we must increasingly take responsibility for our own energy use as well as the energy use of others. Such energy use and, what I perceive to be a market-enforced addiction to fossil fuels (by denial of economic alternatives), is a primary contributor to our current climate and economic problems.

My wife and I, like many who live in the western world, are among these captive consumers. Our electricity comes from a power company that generates only 20% of its energy from renewable sources. And though we live in a state — Maryland — that is progressive and actively pursues an increasing proportion of renewable energy, its current pace of transfer is not rapid enough for comfort. We also own a vehicle that, though having a fuel efficiency in excess of 35 mpg, is still entirely reliant on fossil energy. On the positive note, we are both vegan and, when possible, choose local food sources and so our food preferences have a very low climate impact while improving food availability for our fellows.

That said, there is much that could be done to further reduce our individual impacts — primarily investing in a solar energy system and a related solar garage for an electric vehicle. Having access to these resources would allow both myself and my wife to be freed from a majority of our captive fossil fuel consumerism and so this is also a goal inherent to the publication of Growth Shock.

Fully 20% of all proceeds from the book will go to a fossil energy freedom fund (FEFF) for our household. Once enough money is allayed for the provision of these alternative resources, we will undertake their installation as a completion of our own energy transition. But we won’t stop there.

Since we must also be held accountable for the energy use of our fellow human beings, once my wife and I achieve a high degree of fossil energy independence, these funds will shift to providing a similar gift, first to friends and family members and then to complete strangers. Should we achieve these aspirations, a role-out of FEFF contributions to others will be provided in more detail.

As with the 350.org donations, I will keep track of progress in a monthly report on this blog.

Unlikely Outrageous Success

Should Growth Shock be an unlikely outrageous success, the amount of funds going to charitable causes and active energy transitions will, necessarily, rise. In Growth Shock, I advocate highly progressive rates of taxation for individuals making more than 250,000 dollars per year and 1 million dollars per year respectively. In the highly unlikely event that Growth Shock should, even briefly, generate such a high level of revenue, then I will provide additional charitable contributions and charitable energy transition efforts equal to the difference between my base tax rate on the 40% of funds going to myself and my wife and the suggested rates given in Growth Shock for levels beyond 250,000 dollars. It is worth noting that, since 60% is already dedicated to transition or charity, additional amounts will push the giving level of ‘kindness economics’ far beyond that even suggested.

Since it is highly unlikely for Growth Shock to enjoy such a high level of public success, this additional pledge is probably a symbolic, but still important gesture.

An Open Call For Similar Action

I am also calling for others to act in a manner similar to that which I have described here. There are many important charity organizations like the Sierra club who are also involved in very effective campaigns to reduce reliance on and use of fossil fuels. In addition, individual pledges for private transitions away from fossil energy sources would be a very helpful addition to the broader, public campaigns. Greatly diminishing the power of the fossil fuel industry by reducing fossil fuel reliance will at least begin to point the nose of the ship of human civilization toward fairer weather, even though extraordinarily powerful storms may still await us on that, far less harmful, path of travel.

It is also worth noting that these actions only begin to address the problems outlined in Growth Shock. However, it is my view that removing fossil fuel reliance will begin to address some of the most immediate problems inherent in both resource depletion and in our current failure to provide effective mitigation to a rapidly worsening climate crisis. And even if mitigation is pursued it will continue to be imperative to provide aid for victims and the likely refugees that will inevitably result from a number of hard changes that are now unavoidable. So once the most important hurdle of mitigation is crossed, it is likely that we will then need to shift funds to helping victims, adaptation, and the invigoration of a kindness/living systems economy that works to revitalize the Earth life support structure through direct aid to and cooperation with our companion species here on Earth. An explanation of methods for weaving human systems back into living Earth systems will be provided in much greater depth and detail later. But such goals are outsets and worth mentioning.

Lastly, but not least importantly, It will probably also be necessary to support efforts and organizations that promote both kind and effective population restraint. Likely, another charity publication will be aimed at that effort.

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