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September 30, 2008

The Bailout and Climate Change
Just my style to launch a blog on sustainability in the middle of a global financial crisis - it makes it a challenge to get attention. But talk about unsustainable - all sorts of flimsy metaphors come to mind when thinking about the past eight years of the American economy. House of cards, for one. But I suppose that's not accurate as a metaphor since when a house of cards falls, no one typically gets hurt.

One thing that struck me while I watched the GOP vote No while the economy burned - the politics of the bailout and of climate change are remarkably similar. You've got a catastrophe whose likelihood is doubted. You've got the Republicans ready to watch things go boom rather than violate their "principles". And you've got lots of evidence that the sky really is falling. I find it interesting that now that the rescue plan that everyone hated has failed, people are suddenly calling their representatives to do SOMETHING. That, my friends, is political paralysis playing out in real-time.

And with all the talk of the unintended consequences of the bailout, here's an unintended consequence of the collapse of so many investment banks - we've risked losing the infrastructure and the institutions most invested in launching and maintaining a working market for US carbon-trading.

Perhaps if Congress gets its act together and passes something decent to stabilize the economy we can take heart that, in the face of a worldwide crisis, our politics haven't failed utterly. But watching the sideshow that is Washington DC for the last 24 hours, I don't find that argument particularly compelling. Do you?

Updated: There is now a direct connection between the bailout and climate change - the Senate has added an extension of renewable energy tax credits to the bailout. This extension has been caught up in House/Senate bickering for some time and had appeared to be dead, much to the chagrin on the environmental lobby. It's not exactly a silver lining, but it's something...

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