I began to feel a strong sense of déjà vu. I couldn’t place it until, one night, in the glow of the e-reader, I realized: It’s Web 1.0 all over again. We are in the Pets.com-puppet-mascot era of climate. The comedy of the technology industry is playing again as a kind of Ibsenian tragedy: Scientists and academics told everyone about this thing for decades, and almost everyone ignored them. But then enough people got interested, and now there’s a market. And as a result there are a million business models, a million solutions, huge promises of the change to come: We’ll pour everything we have into green-energy infrastructure. We’ll transact in carbon marketplaces. We’ll pull a trillion tons of CO2 out of the air every year. Never mind that today we can do about 0.0005 percent of that, which rounds to nothing.
In the words of economist Paul Romer, “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste” and that’s the mantra that venture capitalists live by. We’re seeing it with the COVID-19 epidemic and the billions of dollars that individuals and their corporations have made off our suffering. We saw it during the 2007-2008 global recession, the Dot-Com Bubble and Burst, and countless times before it. Ford says we need to avoid this bubble bursting but I believe it will and, like the other times, the ones with the most money won’t care as long as they’re financially safe. It’s just a matter of when rather than if.