Economics and the Environment

Economics and the Environment

Articles and short reports

A Carbon Tax Could Bolster Green Energy by Eduardo Porter, New York Times, Nov. 18, 2014.  “There is one tool available to trim carbon emissions on a relevant scale: a carbon tax.”

The Risks of Cheap Water by Eduardo Porter, New York Times, Oct. 14, 2014.  “Water is far too cheap across most American cities and towns. But what’s worse is the way the United States quenches the thirst of farmers, who account for 80 percent of the nation’s water consumption and for whom water costs virtually nothing.”

This is a review of The Resource Privilege by James North, The Nation, October 13, 2014. This is a review of The Secret World of Oil by Ken Silverstein. The book focuses on the partnership between ExxonMobil and the dictator of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. It asks the questions: who owns the oil and who should receive the revenue from it?  the current dictator and his family or the people of the country?

Pentagon Signals Security Risks of Climate Change by Coral Davenport, New York Times, Oct. 13, 2014.  “Climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages.”

Sun and Wind Alter Global Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind, Sept. 13, 2014. German public policies and public dollars have created a massive transition to renewable energy.

Shattering Myths to Help the Climate by Robert Frank, New York Times, August 2, 2014

In Interests, Ideology, and Climate by a Nobel prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman writes that the economic consequences of limiting carbon emissions are relatively minor. Political obstacles are the real barriers to change. (June 8, 2014)

And God saw everything God had made, and indeed, it was very good.  -- Genesis 1:31a 

Economic policies and institutions impact our climate, climate change, and all the living things on God's planet. Changes in public policies can make our economy more equitable while also slowing climate change and environmental degradation.

A Just Transition for U.S. Fossil Fuel Industry Workers (American Prospect, Summer 2016) describes how to support and help workers in the fossil fuel industry transition to other jobs. It is vital for the U.S. and all countries to end the use of fossil fuels. But this shift would leave many unemployed workers, at least temporarily. There is an equitable, affordable way to ease this transition.

In The New Abolitionism, Christopher Hayes notes that fossil fuel companies are pulling more carbon out of the ground than ever before and, if we limit the planet’s temperature increase to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (anything above that threatens human survival), then “it’s becoming increasingly clear that those companies will have to leave 80 percent of their reserves in the ground if we are to avert a global cataclysm.” This would mean our incredibly powerful fossil fuel companies will need to just walk away from an estimated $10-20 trillion. Hayes notes that the only historical event that compares with today’s need to abandon a huge amount of wealth is the abolition of slavery. While it is hard to think of people as property, hard to think that ownership of people was upheld by law, nonetheless, we realize that slave owners fought emancipation because it meant the loss of a huge amount of wealth – an estimated $10 trillion in today’s dollars. It took the Civil War to bring it about.  Hayes writes, “In fact, the parallel I want to highlight is between the opponents of slavery and the opponents of fossil fuels. Because the abolitionists were ultimately successful, it’s all too easy to lose sight of just how radical their demand was at the time: that some of the wealthiest people in the country would have to give up their wealth. That liquidation of private wealth is the only precedent for what today’s climate justice movement is rightly demanding: that trillions of dollars of fossil fuel stay in the ground. It is an audacious demand, and those making it should be clear-eyed about just what they’re asking. They should also recognize that, like the abolitionists of yore, their task may be as much instigation and disruption as it is persuasion. There is no way around conflict with this much money on the line, no available solution that makes everyone happy. No use trying to persuade people otherwise.”  Read the whole article from The Nation magazine, April 22, 2014.

Pandora's Terrifying Promise: Can Nuclear Power Save the Planet By Mark Hertsgaard and Terry Tempest Williams, The Nation. Nuclear power is a fix for climate change. June 17, 2013

Writing in Century Century, noted environmentalist Bill McKibben calls for divestment from the oil industry. January 9, 2013

 America's Fossil Fuel Fever by Michael T. Klare, The Nation. Costly technologies have opened up new sources in the Western Hemisphere—but they pose immense environmental dangers. February 29, 2012   

Capitalism v. the Climate by Naomi Klein in The Nation. An excellent assessment of the problem and what must be done. November 28, 2011.

UCC Environmental Ministries

General Synod Resolutions about Climate Change 
Resolution Urging Divestment – Along With Other Strategies – From Fossil Fuel Companies to Address Climate Change , GS XXIX, 2013.

A Resolution on Climate Change , GS XXVI, 2007. 

Contact Info

Edith Rasell, Ph.D.
Minister for Economic Justice
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115