WSW: Climate Change, Capitalism And The Government's Role

Oct 30, 2017

Solar Panels at Western Michigan University - file photo
Credit WMUK

Journalist and author Christian Parenti says what American capitalism needs is a new round of “creative destruction” and investment. He says making those investments in renewable energy would help the economy and mitigate the impact of climate change.


Parenti, who also teaches in the Economics Department for John Jay College at City University of New York will speak at Western Michigan University on Thursday November 2nd at 7:00 in Knauss Hall.

Parenti says the high rates of economic growth in the 1950’s were largely caused by post World War II rebuilding. He says now the government needs to replace the fossil fuel industry with a clean energy infrastructure.

Despite talk of a “free market”, Parenti says in reality the U.S. has developed a mixed economy with government influence in many sectors. He says the federal government could end drilling for oil and coal mining on public land, and subsidies for fossil fuels. Parenti says the government also has influence by what it purchases. He says a carbon tax would help, and while Congress isn’t likely to enact one anytime soon, Parentis says a de facto carbon tax could be enacted now through the federal Clean Air Act. He says fines on businesses for burning fossil fuels would serve as an incentive to develop sustainable energy.

Parenti says extreme weather events hammering urban infrastructure is likely to lead another debate over the economics of climate change. He says rebuilding areas after hurricanes, floods and other severe weather events is expensive. Parenti says the question will be who pays for that rebuilding.