Paulson Not Opposed to Keystone

June 26, 2014

Reassuring us that he’s a “conservationist”, Hank Paulson, who recently wrote a high profile piece in the New York Times warning business about climate change, says he supports the Keystone Pipeline.

More of the Paulson media blitz below.

Is this the position you take to portray yourself as “thoughtful”?

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour speaks with Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon about climate change and the drug war.


10 Responses to “Paulson Not Opposed to Keystone”

  1. Sorry to say, but I think he talking “self-serving BS”. He took advantage from global financial crisis, why not from climate change?

    This is how 99% of us behave – we rationalize our own greedy interests.


    • dumboldguy Says:

      See my 8:07 comment. You are correct that the capitalists are “self-serving”, but if they can get rich from pushing against AGW, they will be on our side—-“the enemy of my enemy is my friend” kind of thing. When the other greedy SOB’s hear a guy that got away with openly ripping off his fellow citizens to the tune of $700+ million talking this way, they will start looking for ways to profit from climate change—-right now, too many are still looking to fossil fuels for easy profit—-they need to understand that will cease to be profitable all too soon.

      Then all we will have to do to save the country is restructure the tax code, mandate fair and equitable corporate pay structure, and attack campaign finance and our-of -control lobbying to restore sanity and promote wealth and income equality.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    Is this the position you take to portray yourself as “thoughtful”?, you ask?

    Don’t be so hard on Hank. It’s hard to tap dance, talk out of both sides of your mouth, and swim in your dirty money a la Scrooge McDuck all at the same time. Especially after you began with a statement that you “haven’t studied the Keystone XL issue that deeply”. I find it encouraging that he came out so strongly in the “risky business” paper and think it’s a good sign for the future. I DO agree that too much unfocused babbling on things he “hasn’t studied deeply” may hurt his credibility.

    I’m nearly finished reading Gilding’s The Great Disruption, in which Gilding talks about “The Great Awakening” and global mobilization as being our main hope for avoiding total disaster due to climate change and unsustainable economic models. He predicts that TGA will occur in 2018, and its success will depend on the free-marketers getting behind it because they see business as usual being very unprofitable and moving to get GHG under control as the new profit opportunity. Gilding sees Shumpeter’s creative destruction being harnessed and redirected in such a way as to benefit the biosphere as well as the bottom line. Considering Paulson’s history on Wall Street and in the government, the greedy rich are likely to listen to what he says.

    By the way, some commenter said a while back that they didn’t agree with everything Gilding said in The Great Disruption. I find little to disagree with in what he says, and again recommend TGD as one of the best books available. Gilding does a great job of tying all the bits and pieces together, and the problem is so complex that he shouldn’t be faulted for not having definitive or fully practical answers to all parts of it.

    • jimbills Says:

      oldguy – I tried to write an adequate response to your last paragraph, but it’s far too long and complex to fit here. In short, and without that adequate response, I agree with 80-90% of Gilding’s book, but I find his end conclusions too optimistic. The guy has 5 children, so I think he wants to believe our problems can be solved with a big group hug and a heave to. I don’t think he sees a more complete picture of the biological, political, and governmental reasons why this can’t take place.

      I’ll just mention one. Capital only cares about increasing capital. This is impossible in a ‘de-growth’ phase. It doesn’t matter what kind of environmental shock we have, moneyed interests will not sacrifice that interest to solve it. They’ll fight every step of the way to protect that interest. The disinformation campaigns we see now are just the beginning of what they can do. This is the ‘smile and wink’ approach. They have far more menacing tools at their command.

      A few will get rich from AGW, absolutely. But not everyone can, and most of our environmental problems require some form of eventual de-growth in the economy. A debt-based monetary system cannot accept de-growth for long. It will collapse.

      So, on that point alone, and there are many others, we won’t have the ‘group hug heave to’ moment Gilding hopes for. I think he’s being delusional on this point.

      I personally think we’re just on the wheel of history. All civilizations have birth->growth->decay->death phases. We’re in the transition between the growth and decay phases. We might find little things we can do to switch back to growth from decay, but it will continuously revert back to the decay form. It’s okay. We’re just in this spot in history. We can still live meaningful lives, we just need to know how to approach our situation realistically. Overly hopeful narratives blind people to reality.

      Here’s a TED video with Gilding for others to view. It summarizes his book. He’s very nervous in the video, and keep in mind that it’s impossible to present a complete picture in 15 minutes. I think it’s a muddled speech overall, but he raises good points, too:

      • dumboldguy Says:

        I think you have badly misread both the substance of Gilding’s speech and his demeanor while delivering it.

        First, I don’t see him as “very nervous” at all—-he has been “on stage” for too many years in his life for that. Although his delivery is a bit awkward, I think his reliance on note cards and his “measured” pace was an attempt to try to adequately summarize and deliver “the complete picture” in his allotted 15+ minutes. Second, I think you have chosen the wrong word in “muddled”, because both the book and the speech are not that, IMO. A bit convoluted and “circular” in spots, but Gilding is trying to tie together the totality of the science, economics, psychology, and sociology of man’s “place” on the Earth in a way that few have yet attempted, and I think he has generally succeeded. You say he “raises good points, TOO”? TOO? I think you may suffer from a bit of cognitive dissonance where Gilding and his arguments are concerned—he is not “delusional” in the slightest.

        I see Gilding as thinking in parallel with McPherson, and most emphatically do NOT interpret anything he says as a “group hug heave to” moment. McPherson concentrates mainly on the pure science of of climate change and sustainability and thinks we are pretty much doomed. Gilding spends the first part of his book laying out a rather grim picture that points to upheaval and destruction of human society, with the likelihood of a greatly diminished human population and much suffering. Rather than say “We’re F***ed” as McPherson does, Gilding merely says we COULD prevail IF certain things occur, and proceeds to outline what he sees as “a way out”, citing past war time mobilization and “man’s technological ingenuity”. I do NOT think he really sees it happening in time, because he recognizes, as you and I do, that the “forces of evil” will resist until it’s too late. He is just trying to “sell some hope” (which sells both books and ideas) and get people thinking, no more. I think you are dead wrong to characterize what Gilding says as “overly hopeful narrative”

        I also think you greatly oversimplify when you say “we’re just on the wheel of history”, and that we are traveling a well-worn path. The present situation is unique in history, and the “decay” this time may lead to the extinction of all life on Earth. There will be no real “recovery”, and Gilding is right to emphasize how disruptive and terminal our present “civilization” is.

        You say “…..most of our environmental problems require some form of eventual de-growth in the economy. A debt-based monetary system cannot accept de-growth for long. It will collapse”. That is exactly Gilding’s point, hence the “Great Disruption”.

        I myself am hoping for “The Great Awakening” that Gilding predicts for 2018. I see Obama making little progress in the remainder of his term because of the insane intransigence of the Repugnants and the power of the forces of evil. Hillary will be 2 years into her first term in 2018, and when the climate change SHTF by then with the disappearance of arctic sea ice in summer, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, more frequent extreme weather, food shortages, water wars, and (god forbid) massive releases of methane from permafrost and sea bed clathrates, the world will have no choice but to declare Gilding’s “one degree war”. I hope I live that long and see it.

      • What could be more obvious? How could a society based on compound (exponential) growth ever be sustainable? Its not about how much. Its about growth rates.

        Its an insane paradigm. Leaders are trying to grow their way out of the dilemma of limits to growth. Next year, leaders will announce the health or sickness of economies based on growth. None will say, we have a good year, we contracted, now we are more sustainable. And yet that is exactly what must happen. The status quo paradigm is in direct contradiction to the needed outcome. It requires a full reversal in mindset, values.

        The current system of growth is impossible. China has vaulted from a distant fourth in carbon to double the next largest carbon emitter, US, in a decade or so? Thats compound growth.

        Its not about the political system. Its not about the putative economic system. Its about whether the actual workings of the system are based on compound growth. Capitalism definitely is, as practiced in the West. In China, its a controlled economy, but they have taxes, and interest rates, and a planned economy based on compound growth, percent growth. Same outcome.

        If you want to talk about the future, talk about whats next. A different paradigm, a different way of thinking. Saying we are using up the earth is like an addict saying, I think I have a problem. Its a nice first step, but its not a solution.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Yep, we need to move first to next-to-no-growth and then to virtually no growth, and then to some degree of economic contraction. Any “growth” that is allowed must be coupled to a reduction of greenhouse gasses and elimination of fossil fuels. It may even be necessary to take steps to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to get us back to the 350 ppb that most think is “safe”. (And I hate word—-paradigm—-who invented it and why?—-it’s ugly and meaningless)

  3. anotheralionel Says:

    The cognitive dissonance strong it is in this one.

  4. jimbills Says:

    Again, Paulson cares about money and protecting moneyed interests. Notice how he says he thinks climate change is the ‘economic issue of our time’ – not the ‘issue of our time’. Climate change only matters to him in that it will affect the economy.

    The economy is our problem, and it always has been. Humans can and should be able to enjoy comfortable living standards, but the West achieved this in 1960. And yet we still grow, and grow, and grow. Paulson talks about wanting to preserve diverse ecosystems, but virtually every ecosystem on Earth has been ravaged since 1960 because of that growth.

    People like this ARE trying to help, but they don’t understand what the problem is in the first place. Their entire mental framework is built around protecting the very systems that cause the environmental destruction.

    The Keystone pipeline is essentially a subsidy for tar sands, and yet he claims he’s both against any kind of fossil carbon subsidy and against the tar sands himself. He doesn’t get it – doesn’t even see it.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Well said. Many studies have shown that growth and increase in “wealth” beyond a certain point does not result in more happiness, a longer life span, or any real increase in “well-being”. But it’s not the developed world that is now the problem, it’s all those people in the developing world who want to live at western standards that will doom us. The average Chinese “lives” at ~20% of U.S. standards, and there are nearly 1.4 billion of them—-the math is easy—-raise the living standard of all Chinese to that of the U.S., and they will have the impact of 7 billion “American equivalents”.

      In the meantime, Paulson and his ilk are concerned with maintaining their position at the expense of the average American and thereby weakening the country, never mind the Chinese and the rest of the world. They truly don’t get it.

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