Posted by: ericgrimsrud | December 13, 2014

An artistic blueprint for civilization’s survival

Maybe some artwork will help me get my major point across more effectively. Jane and Sharon Genovese (see have provided some excellent paintings concerning climate change and I particularly like to use the one that is shown first at that web site indicated above. So have a look and then please return.

I particularly like this painting for several reasons in addition to the fact that is it pleasing to the eye. One is that it effectively summarizes the myriad things that we should be doing in order to combat global warming. The topics shown include the sources of energy we should be using, what type of food we should eat, how we should travel and how we should become more politically active. Take a few minutes to inspect all of the details provided.

I also like to use this figure in public presentations when I ask the difficult question: “Ok, but how are we going to get people to accept all these “goody-goody” suggestions? Many people and perhaps a majority just don’t seem to be sufficiently interested in and serious about “doing the right things”. Also, it seems unlikely that people will do all of these things just because some “tree-hugging greenies” or even our federal, state and local governments ask them to. It would also seem to be futile and perhaps unwise to have some sort of “carbon tsar” trying to direct all of the complex traffic represented in the figure.

Nevertheless, there is, indeed, a very simple solution to effectively promoting these lifestyles and that is the Carbon Fee and 100% Dividend Plan that was described on this blog three posts ago. People are strongly influenced by the costs associated with their chosen lifestyles and every one of the suggestions made in the figure will follow the implementation of an appropriately large waste disposal fee for the extraction of fossil fuels from the Earth.

In addition, a carbon fee will encourage entrepreneurs to develop carbon-neutral methods of doing some of the things shown in the figure that are too dear to abandon. For example, can you envision a future in which all travel via aircraft is terminated? Don’t think so. So how then would some be able to fly when they need to. For travel by aircraft a portable fuel is required and that fuel will likely become biodiesel made from plants (note that burning and thereby turning biological material into CO2 is OK with respect to climate change- because it does not increase the net carbon content of the biosphere). However, if these types fuels and engines are to be developed and become financially viable, the full cost of the old way of flying with fossil fuels must be applied.

I suspect that this new mode of flying would likely be more expensive than the old- fashioned way. If so, would encourage the development of the other lower-cost, but still carbon-free modes of travel shown in the figure, including cars, busses, and passenger trains that are also propelled either by electricity or biodiesel.

In short, the reason we have painted ourselves into the formidable corner we now live in (by increasing the total carbon content of the biosphere by about 40% over the Industrial Age) is that we have not charged the producers and users of fossil fuels the full cost of their product’s use. Instead, we have given them free use of our atmosphere for dumping fossil-fuel-derived CO2. Only by charging an appropriate fee for this, can we will bring all of the systems and personal lifestyles represented in the figure back to sustainable levels. My thanks to Jane and Sharon Genovese for showing us how we can “unpaint” ourselves out of our corner.


  1. The message of this artwork is conservation. Good thinking but not nearly enough. The U.S. would be wise to follow what China is doing. Start replacing coal with nuclear power. Solar and wind are in the mix, as well.

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