License plate: CPTLISM [scottfeldstein / Flickr]
Here’s a tough question that came up in a dinner conversation and echoes pitches from danielsommers, joneden, and cbuxbaum: Is it possible to achieve dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions — sufficient to save ourselves from the worst ravages of global warming — in a capitalist economy?
In other words, is constant economic growth compatible with stringent cutbacks in the petroleum-based energy that drives it? If we, as a country, need to reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2050, is there really a technological fix — in the form of clean, renewable energy sources — that will also allow us to continue our consumer lifestyles, that will permit companies to keep making profits? One that won’t require a serious focus on conservation/reduction and possibly a change in our economic system?
Or is the innovation encouraged by our free-market economy exactly what will save us all in the end?