It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It seems as though at least one member of the 1% has decided to fight against the oncoming catastrophe of global climate change. Tom Steyer is planning to spend as much as $100 million in the 2014 election cycle to help advance the cause of addressing climate change by supporting pro-environment candidates.
Steyer is a billionaire from the hedge fund world who has decided to invest some of his gains in fighting for a better environment. Though even $100 million might not be that much when considering the Koch Brothers political machine raised over $400 million in 2012.
Is it better than nothing? Will it level the playing field somewhat?
“Our feeling on 2014 is, we want to do things that are both substantively important and will have legs after that,” Mr. Steyer said in an interview. “We don’t want to go someplace, win and move on.”
Mr. Steyer, 56, accumulated more than $1.5 billion during his days at the hedge fund Farallon Capital Management, before he retired in 2012. Today, he is among the most visible of a new breed of wealthy donors on the left who call themselves “donor-doers,” taking a page from the Kochs, Mr. Bloomberg and others to build and run their own political organizations — outside the two parties and sometimes in tension with them.
Of course is this really progress? It’s nice to see some members of the plutocracy with a conscience but elections as 1% proxy wars is not exactly democracy.
Then again, according to James Lovelock, father of the Gaia hypothesis which is used in much of climate science, it’s all moot. Climate change is irreversible and trying to prevent it is a waste of everyone’s time - in 20 years global warming will “hit the fan” regardless of what is done now.
Not only is climate change not preventable according to Lovelock, but most of what people are doing to address it is pointless.
“It’s just too late for it,” he says. “Perhaps if we’d gone along routes like that in 1967, it might have helped. But we don’t have time. All these standard green things, like sustainable development, I think these are just words that mean nothing. I get an awful lot of people coming to me saying you can’t say that, because it gives us nothing to do. I say on the contrary, it gives us an immense amount to do. Just not the kinds of things you want to do.”
If Lovelock’s analysis is right “going green” is like pink ribbons for breast cancer - substantively meaningless but a great cross-marketing opportunity for the businesses who endorse it. Gotta love corporate capitalism, they make money destroying the planet and money pretending to save it.
But the real question is where do these stories leave activists concerned with climate change? Lovelock may be pessimistic but he’s not the only one ready to throw in the towel. James Hansen, perhaps the most respected climatologist in the world and currently working for NASA has said if the Keystone Pipeline is authorized it’s “Game Over.” Whether you believe Lovelock or Hansen or whomever – the genuine consensus is climate change is not going to be prevented even if we could still prevent it.