Former Treasury Secretary Sees Climate Crash Coming

Henry Paulson (right) speaks at his nomination as Secretary of the Treasury. He lived through one crash. Now he sees another coming.

Henry Paulson (right) speaks at his nomination as Secretary of the Treasury. He lived through one crash. Now he sees another coming.

The man who was at the center of the global financial crash of 2008 — Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson — knows a thing or two about crisis. And he sees another one bearing down on us. He wrote about it in a hair-on-fire op-ed piece in the New York Times last weekend. The headline: The Coming Climate Crash. And he’s a Republican!

‘This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course.”

Secretary Paulson writes briefly about the progression of events in the 2008 crash — wretched excesses (of debt then, of greenhouse gases now), failure of government, strident warnings from experts unheeded, and then collapse — and makes the obvious point that while government was able to step in at the last moment and save the edifice of global finance, no such last-minute intervention is possible with the planetary climate crisis. It’s too big not to fail.

Even in the throes of his epiphany, Paulson retains scraps of his former belief system. The “climate bubble,” he writes, “poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy (the emphasis is his)”. Wow. He has just realized that you cannot destroy “the environment” without affecting the “economy.” Moreover, he insists that the solution to this existential problem must be “a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response.”

It’s touching really, that a man who was present at the near-destruction of the world’s financial system by the unrestrained greed ot the “marketplace” now places his hope of salvation in the hands of its “efficiency.” Likewise his faith that there is a quick fix for the mess we’re in — a carbon tax that will bring the marketplace to its senses.

Nevertheless, he has done a real service in stepping forward as a high ranking, orthodox Republican who sees the danger and is willing to challenge the Know-Nothing wing of his party:

“In a future with more severe storms, deeper droughts, longer fire seasons and rising seas that imperil coastal cities, public funding to pay for adaptations and disaster relief will add significantly to our fiscal deficit and threaten our long-term economic security. So it is perverse that those who want limited government and rail against bailouts would put the economy at risk by ignoring climate change.”

The sudden, massive response to climate change by the governments and societies of the industrialized world is simply not going to happen. Mr. Paulson might as well skip down Wall Street sprinkling pixie dust as urge his fellow suits to change their profitable ways. But he has a couple of things right: “Climate change is the challenge of our time,” he says. “Each of us must recognize that the risks are personal.”

Bingo. Brace for impact.


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5 Responses to Former Treasury Secretary Sees Climate Crash Coming

  1. SomeoneInAsia says:

    If we reduce by half the amount of pollution cars generate (in the process of making them; at the time of their use; with respect to making the roads on which to use them; etc etc), but then double the number of cars around, what happens?

    We go back to square one. That’s what happens.

    So much for ’empowering the marketplace to find the most efficient response’. :)

  2. Survival Acres says:

    Not much of an epiphany, more like a deep delusion.

    Markets cannot solve the climate crisis. Markets created the climate crisis.

    Moreover, there is no such thing as an “efficient response”. The natural equilibrium of the Earth is now wildly out of balance and will not “respond” to our pitiful efforts. Not in time and probably, not ever.

    Expecting the “market” to somehow magically correct imbalance is quite ridiculous.

    Markets are created and driven by profits, which at their very core require a constant depletion of Earth’s resources (creating the imbalance) for there even to “be” a market.

    Expecting profits then to “fix the climate” is absurd, since markets are in fact the driving force behind the climate collapse. As long as markets exist the climate will remain a casualty of our war on the Earth.

    No, the Republicans don’t get it – and never will. They’re totally blind to their own hubris and self-importance. But that definition applies to nearly all things human.

    • colinc says:

      There is great truth and wisdom in your words, sir! However, it is not just the Repugs that “don’t get it,” most of “humanity” does not get it. The imminent bottleneck/extinction will surely be the greatest(?!) spectacle ever witnessed by any member of Hominidae.

  3. Robert Sweetman says:

    These banking and corporate interests could not even fathom the most fundamental axiom of Henry Ford’s own philosophy that if you cannot make affordable what you build and sell by the people who make the product for you, its doomed to failure.

    This kind of myopic and tunnel-vision view of life, based on what has become through socially engineered voluntary servitude of the masses, that in a nutshell has become the collective destruction of the human process of self-actualizing the full human potential of our intellectual, emotional and spiritual enlightenment, as a personal journey of our lives, through learning and discovery which leads to the personal and social progress of helping ourselves meet our human nature needs.
    Instead, our best interests have been bastardized by the illusion we think we live in a world we do not as a world of make believe.

    For facing up to the truth, threatens to turn our comfort zones into our worst nightmare, not wanting to believe our benevolent matriarch authority figure of a kind, generous and honorable father would ever choose to harm us, simply prevents us from looking through how we are governed with any truthful critically reflective lens to conduct an inventory of ourselves and how our belief system was established, that continues to influence how we behave.

    Those processes become the drivers of our moral beliefs and values which mediate our everyday relations that is largely influenced by the idolatry worship of money and material form, and the institutional and social hierarchies of control, prestige, and status seeking domination and control, which becomes the underpinning undermining of ever being able to self-actualize the intellectual, emotional and spiritual development towards greater maturity to live in peace, harmony and balance in the world.

    Instead being co-opted as cogs in the wheel of an artificial process of scarcity that arrives competitive behavior against each other to seek higher and higher levels of attainment of status and benefit in this society which is what translates into how we can obtain more of what we think we need, which in the end leas to more for the fewer of us in pyramid scheme, and a whole lot less for the most of us, and why there is so many without at the ultimate expense of destroying what breathes life into all there is to begin with.

    Thus the system is riven by a class of ruthless, sick and pathologically socio psycho-paths who control the rules which determine how we play the game as socialism for the rich and corporate titans of industry, and neoliberal aggressive predatory crony capitalism for the rest of us to meet our personal and social needs, which is impossible to achieve is self-evident.

    Meeting our full-human potential has been turned on its head as merely a means to an end for the power-elite to control a population of people to serve them in ways they benefit from, at the expense of our own personal truth, honor, integrity and happiness that has hollowed out what it means to be human and helping to meet our full potential in life, provided instead it results in maximizing the accumulation of wealth which results in greater influence and control over our lives by them which facilitates their ability to exercise that much more control over how we are used to willingly comply to their wishes.

    Our social and personal growth and development, was co-opted by the socially contrived and engineered process of voluntary servitude in what Aldous Huxley, a cognitive neural scientist, author, and social critic of the 1960’s articulated in his seminal book, “A Brave New World’.

    Which when seen through the prism of when I read the book in the mid 1970’s has become what I saw evolve into as he predicted, the collective mass subjugation of the human-mind into what is the psycho-social underpinnings of a human sub-system of organizational narcissistic psychopathic philosophical death-wish, as some form of entitlement only, reserved by a comparatively small group of pathologically sick and corrupted ethnocentric driven people by greed and excess, come at the expense of the many and the balance and harmony of our living ecosystems, will in the end, be the undoing and crash of civilization.

    The very fact we have such a polarized illiterate dysfunctional population where Aldous Huxley warned us about how voluntary servitude to this system would in the end be the crash of humanity.

    It is this empirical observation I now see has unfolded, and why there is no realistic hope we will ever solve the many converging problems we have on unprecedented levels that is far too short and far too late to stop the runaway train we are on which I believe will continue to run its self-right off the track that will lead to the Pentagon and power elite to take some of the most inhumane and genocidal policies to save themselves and screw the rest of humanity.

    They were obviously the ones who got us here that created the voluntary servitude most Americans could never see themselves falling into the trap to begin with, unless your one of the fortunate ones who had their propaganda filters on from the beginning, like Professor Noam Chomsky as one who always spoke the truth of who and what we represented as the greatest threat to world peace prosperity and living in harmony and balance with the planet.

    Current biology tells us that nature has a way of making those species who are the most aggressive and predatory in an environment, are the ones which go extinct first.

    There will be some left after the dust settles, hidden in deep isolated bunkers built for just such a circumstance for those who believe they are endowed to be the ones entitled to survival of the species by them alone, lets hope that mindset does not carry itself on, for that is how we got here.

    it’s my hope the phoenix which rises will have learned the lessons we have not that can make the difference to scale we are incapable of doing.

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