A Flaw in the Algorithm (PT. 1)
If you burrow deep into the innards of the capitalist algorithm, you’ll find a major flaw: the vast majority of humankind’s carbon emissions are unpriced.
Out of the trillions of transactions made every day in the global marketplace, only a tiny fraction reflect their true cost. From the tires on our cars, to the phones in our hands, to the Big Macs nesting in our take-out bags, every purchase we make is essentially a mistake. And each one drives us a little closer to global system collapse.
With every bogus transaction, another drop of meltwater slides off an iceberg, another puff of CO2 rises to the sky, another bubble of methane burps from the tundra. If we keep repeating that mistake trillions of times a day, week after week, month after month, year after year, what do you think will happen?
Economists speak the language of efficiency. Why are so many economists silent on these, the greatest inefficiencies of all? We’re selling off our natural capital and calling it income. Why is the profession of economics, when it should be rushing to the breach to lead us, so monumentally negligent?
Economists, this is your new brief. Let’s figure this out. What is the real cost of shipping a container load of toys from Chongqing to Los Angeles? Or a case of apples grown in New Zealand to markets in North America? And what is the true cost of that fridge humming 24/7 in your kitchen? That steak sizzling on your grill? That car rolling off the production line?
How much are the byproducts of our way of living actually setting us back?