The 21st Century Environmental Revolution (2008)Reviewed by David McCorquodale (Co-chair of Green Pages, the US Green Party quarterly)
[XYZ] Subtitled The Fourth Wave, this book is an effort to
[XYZ] envision the social and economic changes that an environmental
[XYZ] revolution would produce and to provide a feasible strategy capable
[XYZ] of delivering the large-scale change that would make it
[XYZ] possible. Proceeding from the premise that just as the
[XYZ] information age has changed the way human beings interact
[XYZ] as described by Alvin Toffler in The Third Wave, so to will
[XYZ] the environmental revolution change the social and economic
[XYZ] landscape by putting "a stop to the chronic and wanton
[XYZ] destruction of the planet and to the reckless wasting
[XYZ] and plundering of non-renewable resources."
[XYZ] The key recommendation for this transformation is to modify
[XYZ] the taxation system by progressively eliminating consumption
[XYZ] taxes, reducing income taxes on the average working person
[XYZ] and shifting to an environmental taxation system (ETS)
[XYZ] [the GEE or Green Economic Environment in the
[XYZ] 2nd edition]. This system would levy taxes based
[XYZ] on the environmental impact or scarcity of three
[XYZ] classes of substances: metals, toxic compounds and oil & other
[XYZ] fossil fuels. Similarly, taxes would be levied on packaging.
[XYZ] The ETS would create much more disposable income for individuals,
[XYZ] but products would cost much more, depending on the
[XYZ] environmental impact of the product. The total amount of tax
[XYZ] paid under the new system would equal that of the old taxation
[XYZ] system. But individuals and businesses would rapidly begin
[XYZ] to change their consumption patterns to reduce costs and
[XYZ]would begin to consume in a more sustainable pattern.
[XYZ] The author points to several positive developments with this
[XYZ] new system. The taxation bureaucracy would be simplified with
[XYZ] costs levied at the basic level and passed on up the chain of
[XYZ] manufacturing to the consumer, instead of levying taxes at
[XYZ] every point in the chain. Markets for recycling and renewables
[XYZ] would explode, as limited resources are deemed valuable, instead
[XYZ] of being viewed as trash. "The ETS would rely on the governments
[XYZ] for general directions and on the market for complex decisions"
[XYZ] without burdening businesses with reams of paperwork to comply
[XYZ] with environmental regulations as happens currently. The logic of
[XYZ] the system would lead business enterprises into doing what is
[XYZ] right for the planet because it is also the profitable way to proceed.
[XYZ] The book, which is presented as the first of a series by publisher
[XYZ] Waves of the Future (https://wavesofthefuture.net), leaves some
[XYZ] issues unaddressed. While nuclear power is derived from toxic
[XYZ] metals, the author did not specifically address the issue, which
[XYZ] many politicians, in the thrall of the energy companies, have
[XYZ] pushed as an intermediate solution to dependence on foreign oil.
[XYZ] The author's model might be easier to implement in Canada, which
[XYZ] is used as the example, because it is economically less complex
[XYZ] and more progressive than the United States.
[XYZ] Perhaps the thorniest unmentioned problem is the question of how
[XYZ] to put the ETS into law when politicians are beholden to
[XYZ] corporations whose business model is based on waste. In a
[XYZ] country where over half of the federal budget goes to "defense",
[XYZ] including wasteful armaments production, and every state gets
[XYZ] handouts to keep the addiction going, the question is how to
[XYZ] start the process of weaning the economy from wasteful production.
[XYZ] In response to this review, the publisher intends to address
[XYZ] this question on its website. [see below]
[XYZ] The author acknowledges that the ETS system is only part of
[XYZ] the answer because it does not assume a reduction in consumption,
[XYZ] which would mean unemployment and which would be politically
[XYZ] unpopular. But it would make the products we buy greener.
[XYZ] If population (the topic of the next book in the series)
[XYZ] continues to increase, even the ETS may not be enough. But it is
[XYZ] a step that would start humanity on the road to a greener future.
[XYZ] Greens, who wish to show communities that they
[XYZ] know how to lead toward a better future in a sustainable
[XYZ] world, will be provided with a foundation for
[XYZ] understanding environmental taxation concepts. The
[XYZ] book has convinced me that the ETS could be an
[XYZ] immensely important tool for the environment, but
[XYZ] the obstacles are sizable, especially in the United
[XYZ] States. Greens' support for such a strategy may play
[XYZ] a critical role in overcoming the odds.
[XYZ] The 21st Century Environmental Revolution is available
[XYZ] through the publisher and many online retailers. See the
[XYZ] following webpage for best places to buy, royalties, and
[XYZ] discount information [below].
This review was written by David McCorquodale, co-chair of Green
Pages, the quarterly publication of the Green Party of the United
States, and appeared in the Summer 2009 edition of that publication.