Robert Meeropol





Robby, Abel, Michael and trains








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"Robby & Elli" 1968


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Robby speaking at the re-launch of the Mary Pitawanakwat Fund in Toronto

Robby and Cory work on the blog.

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STILL OUT ON A LIMB

Know Your Frienemies

July 1, 2015

Tags: Green capitalists, Climate Shock

I recently read Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet by Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman. Although I disagree with the author’s conclusions, people who are strategizing about how to organize a mass movement to counter global warming and its resulting climate change will benefit from reading it.

Readers will understand my quarrel once they read the authors’ response to Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: “Far from posing a fundamental problem to capitalism, it’s capitalism with all its innovative and entrepreneurial powers that is our hope of steering clear of the looming climate shock.”

You read that right. Capitalism is the only solution to approaching climate crises. According to the authors the solution to global warming is to tax carbon emissions to cover their environmental costs. Their biggest fear, aside from the consequences of not imposing such a tax, is that if we continue with business as usual, as things heat up some nation will resort to dangerous geo-engineering, such as seeding the atmosphere with sulfur dioxide particles, which is fraught with peril.

So why read this book?

First, they are smart and well-connected. Wagner is the lead economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, and Weitzman is a Harvard economics professor. Their writing is engaging and clear. They make a good case for why global warming induced climate change is real and risks rendering our planet incompatible with civilization. Organizers will find these arguments helpful.

Second, these men will be the green experts the mainstream media finds most palatable and quotable. As the climate change policy battle intensifies, people like Wagner and Weitzman will be given air time on PBS, NPR and the major news networks (other than Fox). They will be featured in influential liberal journals. For example, The New York Review of Books just reviewed this book favorably. The reviewer was someone whose work the authors praise and thank in their acknowledgements. (Which may be an ethically questionable choice, perhaps reflecting the old boy network.) These authors and their colleagues are capable of mounting a robust public relations effort to promote their positions. Last week, a professor at Duke University’s Sanford school of Public Policy, who co-founded the Partnership for Responsible Growth, published a guest column in my local paper entitled “Capitalism can stop climate change” (Daily Hampshire Gazette, 6/24), which advocated the same concept to “[h]arness the power of the market and create a global, uniform price on carbon.”

Finally, the climate change movement must beware of friends like these. These authors take climate change seriously and as we build a broad-based campaign they might be included as allies. They are not climate change deniers, but they deny the necessity of changing our system and its underlying grow or die imperative.

They are frienemies; in the guise of saving us they will make things worse.

Selected Works

Memoir
"Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
Publisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
–Joyce Carol Oates

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