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逆全球化是不是解决气候变化问题的良方

更新时间:2019/9/23 21:35:56 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

How localisation can solve climate change
逆全球化是不是解决气候变化问题的良方

Over the past two centuries, millions of dedicated people – revolutionaries, activists, politicians, and theorists – have yet to curb the disastrous and increasingly globalised trajectory of economic polarisation and ecological degradation. Perhaps because we are utterly trapped in flawed ways of thinking about technology and economy – as the current discourse on climate change shows.

在过去的两百年,数以百万的有志之士——革命者、活动家、政治家和理论家——一直想法遏制因日益全球化而造成经济两极分化和生态退化的灾难性发展轨迹,但至今徒劳无功。或许是因为我们对技术和经济的认识陷入一种有缺陷的思维方式,正如当前关于气候变化的论述所显示的那样。

Rising greenhouse gas emissions are not just generating climate change. They are giving more and more of us climate anxiety – public concern over climate change in the UK, for example, is at a record high. Doomsday scenarios are capturing the headlines at an accelerating rate. Scientists from all over the world tell us that emissions in 10 years must be half of what they were 10 years ago, or we face apocalypse. School children like Greta Thunberg and activist movements like Extinction Rebellion are demanding that we panic. And rightly so. But what should we do to avoid disaster?

温室气体排放的不断增加不仅导致气候变化,让越来越多的人焦虑不安,例如,英国公众对气候变化的担忧达到了创纪录的高度。世界末日般的景像正以越来越快的速度登上新闻头条。全世界科学家告诉我们,未来10年内的碳排放量必须是10年前的一半,否则我们将面临文明的末日。像在全球发起关注气候变化的瑞典少女格力达‧桑贝格(Greta Thunberg)这样的学生和像“灭绝叛乱”(Extinction Rebellion)这样的激进运动发出的警世之言,就是要求我们人类能够对未来感到恐慌不安。这种警世是对的,不是危言耸听。但是人类又可以做些什么来避免这场气候变化带来的灾难呢?

Most scientists, politicians, and business leaders tend to put their hope in technological progress. Regardless of ideology, there is a widespread expectation that new technologies will replace fossil fuels by harnessing renewable energy such as solar and wind. Many also trust that there will be technologies for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and for “geoengineering” the Earth’s climate. The common denominator in these visions is the faith that we can save modern civilisation if we shift to new technologies. But “technology” is not a magic wand. It requires a lot of money, which means claims on labour and resources from other areas. We tend to forget this crucial fact.

大多数科学家、政治家和商界领袖都倾向于把希望寄托于技术进步。不管意识形态如何,人们普遍期望新的科技将以可再生能源,如太阳能和风能等,来取代造成气候暖化的罪魁祸首,即化石燃料。许多人还相信,科学家将发明新的技术能去除大气中的二氧化碳,甚至创建“地球工程”来改善气候。这些愿景的共同点是,相信如果人类能够采用新的技术,就能拯救人类现代文明。但“技术”并不是一根可以点石成金的魔杖。还需要大量的资金,也就是说,人类需要从其他领域获得劳动力和资源。但我们往往会忽略这个关键事实。

The cost of going green

环保的代价

As much as 90% of world energy use comes from fossil sources. Meanwhile in 2017, only 0.7% of global energy use derived from solar power and 1.9% from wind. So why is the long-anticipated transition to renewable energy not materialising?

全球能源至今90%仍来自化石燃料。在2017年,全球只有0.7%的能源来自太阳能,1.9%来自风能。那么,人们期待已久的向可再生能源的转型为何没有实现呢?

One highly contested issue is the land requirements for harnessing renewable energy. Energy experts have estimated that the “power density” – the watts of energy that can be harnessed per unit of land area – of renewable energy sources is so much lower than that of fossil fuels that to replace fossil with renewable energy would require vastly greater land areas.

一个争议很大的问题是生产可再生能源需要大量土地。能源专家估计,可再生能源的“功率密度”即单位土地面积能量瓦数传输速度,是远低于化石燃料,因此用可再生能源取代化石能源将需要更大的土地面积。

In part because of this issue, visions of large-scale solar power projects have long referred to the good use to which they could put unproductive areas like the Sahara desert. But doubts about profitability have discouraged investments. A decade ago, for example, there was much talk about Desertec, a 400bn euro (£364bn) project that crumbled as the major investors pulled out, one by one.

部分因为这个原因,长期以来人们所设想的大规模生产太阳能计划,是充分利用诸如撒哈拉沙漠这类寸草不生的地区。但是,因为怀疑是否能盈利而妨碍了投资。例如,10年前,有很多人在谈论一个投资4000亿欧元(3640亿英镑)在撒哈拉沙漠生产太阳能然后输往欧洲的计划“沙漠科技”(Desertec),但因太昂贵和不切实际,主要的投资者一个接一个地撤出,计划最终破产。

Today the world’s largest solar energy project is Ouarzazate Solar Power Station in Morocco. It covers about 25 sq km (9.6 sq miles) and has cost around $9bn (£7.5bn) to build. It is designed to provide around a million people with electricity, which means that another 35 such projects – that is, $315bn (£262bn) of investments – would theoretically be required to cater to the population of Morocco. We tend not to see that the enormous investments of capital needed for such massive infrastructure projects represent claims on resources elsewhere – they have huge footprints beyond our field of vision.

当今,全球最大的太阳能工程是摩洛哥的瓦尔扎扎特太阳能电站,占地约25平方公里,造价约90亿美元。这个工程将为摩洛哥大约100万人提供电力,这意味着理论上还需要另外35个如此规模的太阳能工程,即3150亿美元的投资,才能满足摩洛哥全部人口的能源需求。我们往往忽视这样一个事实,建造如此大规模的基础设施所需要投入的巨额投资,也是对其他资源的巨大消耗,其产生的巨大碳足迹已超乎我们的想像。

The cheapening of solar panels in recent years is to a significant extent the result of shifting manufacture to Asia. We must ask ourselves whether European and American efforts to become sustainable should really be based on the global exploitation of low-wage labour, scarce resources and abused landscapes elsewhere.

太阳能电池板的售价近年不断下调在很大程度上是因为制造业转移到亚洲的结果。我们必须反躬自省,欧美国家为实现可持续发展所作的努力,是否真的应该让全球其他地方付出代价?去利用这些国家的廉价劳动力,去开采其稀缺资源和滥用他们的土地?

Also, we must consider whether renewable energy sources are really carbon free. Wind turbines and nuclear power remain critically dependent on fossil energy to produce, install and maintain. And each unit of electricity produced by non-fossil-fuel sources displaces less than 10% of a unit of fossil-fuel-generated electricity. At the current rate, the renewable power revolution is going to be very slow.

另外,我们还必须考虑可再生能源是否真的是零碳排放。风力发电机和核能电厂的生产、安装和维护仍然严重依赖化石能源。而且,每单位非化石燃料发电所产生的电力只能替代不足10%的每单位化石燃料的发电。以目前的速度,可再生能源革命将非常缓慢。

Meanwhile, our atmospheric CO2 concentrations continue to rise. Because this trend seems unstoppable, many hope to see extensive use of technologies for capturing and removing the carbon from the emissions of power plants and factories.

同时,地球大气中的二氧化碳浓度仍在继续上升。由于这一发展趋势看来不可阻挡,许多人希望能广泛使用可捕捉和消除发电厂和工厂之碳排放的技术。

Of course, it is easy to retort that until the transition has been made, solar panels are going to have to be produced by burning fossil fuels. But even if 100% of our electricity were renewable, electric-powered aircraft and boats are a novelty and not capable of replacing the masses of vehicles in our global transport networks. Likewise, steel and cement production – required for many renewable technologies – are still major sources of greenhouse gases.

当然,人们不难反驳说,在转型完成之前,太阳能电池板也必须使用化石燃料来生产。但是,即使我们100%的电力是可再生的,电动飞机和船只是一种新事物,还无法取代我们全球交通网络中的大量车辆。同样,许多可再生技术所需的钢铁和水泥生产仍然是温室气体的主要来源。

Among most champions of sustainability, such as advocates of a Green New Deal, there is an unshakeable conviction that engineers can solve the problem of climate change. Central to the Green New Deal’s vision is a large-scale shift to renewable energy sources and massive investments in new infrastructure. This would enable further growth of the economy, it is argued.

大多数鼓吹可持续发展的人士,比如美国要求立法实现绿色新政的活动家,坚信不疑地认为,气候变化问题工程师可以解决。绿色新政提出的解决方案之核心是将能源生产大规模转移到可再生能源,并且对新能源生产的基础设施做大规模投资。这个方案认为,大规模投资绿色能源将推动经济进一步增长。

The problem with global tech

全球科技的问题

The general consensus seems to be that the problem of climate change is just a question of replacing one energy technology with another. But a historical view reveals that the very idea of technology is inextricably intertwined with capital accumulation. And as such, it is not as easy to redesign as we like to think. Shifting the main energy technology is not just a matter of replacing infrastructure – it means transforming the economic world order.

一般的看法似乎是,气候变化问题无非是用一种能源技术替代另一种能源技术的问题。但是历史告诉我们,技术本身与资本的积累是紧密关联的。既然如此,重新设计新的能源模式并不如想象般的容易。能源技术的大转换不只是另建基础设施的问题,还意味着世界经济秩序的改变。

The steam engine, for instance, is simply considered an ingenious invention for harnessing the chemical energy of coal. While this might be the case, the steam-driven factories in 19th-Century Manchester would never have been built without the triangular Atlantic trade in slaves, raw cotton, and cotton textiles. Steam technology was not just a matter of ingenious engineering applied to nature – like all complex technology; it was also crucially dependent on global relations of exchange.

譬如,蒸汽机被看作是利用煤的化学能的天才发明。蒸汽机诚然是天才发明,但如果没有大西洋三角贸易的奴隶、原棉和棉织品,19世纪英国的工业城市曼彻斯特由蒸汽器推动的大量纺织工厂就永远建不起来。蒸汽机不仅仅是一个善用自然之力的天才工程,这如同所有复杂的技术一样,蒸汽机技术能够投入生产还得依赖全球贸易关系。

This dependence of technology on global social relations is not just a matter of money. In quite a physical sense, the viability of the steam engine relied on the flows of human labour and other resources that had been invested in cotton fibre from South Carolina, coal from Wales and iron from Sweden. Modern technology, then, is a product of the metabolism of world society, not simply the result of uncovering “facts” of nature.

技术依存于全球的社会关系不仅仅只是钱的问题。从物质角度来看,蒸汽机的成功有赖于劳动力及其投资于南卡罗来纳州的棉花纤维、威尔士的煤炭和瑞典的铁矿等资源的流通。因此,现代技术是现代世界的社会新陈代谢之产物,而不仅仅是发现自然世界“真相”的结果。

Many believe that with the right technologies we would not have to reduce our mobility or energy consumption – and that the global economy could still grow. But is that an illusion? It suggests that we have not yet grasped what “technology” is. Electric cars and many other “green” devices may seem reassuring but are often revealed to be insidious strategies for displacing work and environmental loads beyond our horizon – to unhealthy, low-wage labour in mines in Congo and Inner Mongolia. They look sustainable and fair to their affluent users but perpetuate a myopic worldview that goes back to the invention of the steam engine.

很多人自以为,只要我们有了正确的技术,我们就不必减少流动性或能源的消耗,而全球经济仍有可能增长。但这难道不是痴人说梦吗?这说明我们并没有搞清楚何为“技术”。电动汽车和许多其他“绿色环保”的设备可能看起来令人欣慰,但也常被人揭露是一种阴险的掩饰手段,只是将刚果和中国内蒙古环境恶劣的煤矿,领取低廉工资的矿工,这样的工作和环境负荷转移到我们的视线之外,来一个眼不见心不烦而已。对于富裕社会的能源用户来说,这些能源看起来是可持续的、公平的,但却延续了一种短视的世界观,这种世界观可以追溯到蒸汽机的发明。

Is our goal to overthrow “the capitalist mode of production”? If so, how do we go about doing that?

难道我们的目标是要推翻这种“资本运作生产模式”吗?如果是的话,我们该如何行动?

In making it possible to exchange almost anything – human time, gadgets, ecosystems, whatever – for money, people are constantly looking for the best deals, which ultimately means promoting the lowest wages and the cheapest resources in less developed nations.

人类用世间几乎所有的万事万物,大至人类所支配的时间、生态系统,小至小机件等来换取金钱之时,一直孜孜不倦寻找本小利大的交易,这最终意味着会去利用欠发达国家的最低工资和最廉价的资源。

Despite good intentions, it is not clear what Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and the rest of the climate movement are demanding should be done. Like most of us, they want to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases, but seem to believe that such an energy transition is compatible with money, globalised markets, and modern civilisation.

瑞典女孩桑贝格、《灭绝叛乱》的成员和其他气候运动人士虽然动机良好,但尚不清楚要求采取什么样的行动。他们和我们大多数人一样,希望停止温室气体的排放,但似乎又认为这样的能源转型与资金、全球化市场和现代文明能够兼容并蓄。

Redesigning the game

重新设计游戏

In order to see that "all-purpose money" is indeed a fundamental problem, we need to see that there are alternative ways of buying and selling. Like the rules in a board game, they are human constructions and can, in principle, be redesigned.

为了认识到“通用货币”确实是一个根本性的问题,我们需要研究,是否有其他买卖交易的方式。就像棋类游戏中的规则是人类构建的,原则上人类也可以重新设计。

The only way to change the game is to redesign its most basic rules. The “system” is perpetuated every time we buy our groceries, regardless of whether we are radical activists or climate change deniers. It is difficult to identify culprits if we are all players in the same game. In agreeing to the rules, we have limited our potential collective agency.

改变游戏的唯一途径是重新设计最基本的游戏规则。无论我们是激进分子还是否认气候变化的人士,只要我们购买食品杂货,就是帮助这个“体系”延续下去。如果我们都是同一种游戏的参与者,就难以找到罪魁祸首。因为赞同现行的游戏规则,我们限制了我们作为共同体为共同目标而努力的能力。

National authorities might establish a complementary currency, alongside regular money, that is distributed as a universal basic income but that can only be used to buy goods and services that are produced within a given radius from the point of purchase. This is not “local money” in the sense of the Local Exchange Trading System (Lets) or the Bristol pound. With local money you can buy goods produced on the other side of the planet, as long as you buy it in a local store, which in effect does nothing to impede the expansion of the global market. Introducing special money that can only be used to buy goods produced locally would be a genuine spanner in the wheel of globalisation.

国家当局可以在通用货币之外建立一种补充性货币,这种补充货币应惠及所有居民,作基本日常开支之用,但只能购买所居地某个方圆之内的商品和服务。这不是社区交易系统(LETS)所谓的“当地货币”,或布里斯托英镑。使用当地货币,只要你去当地商店购物,买到的大有可能是地球另一端生产的商品,实际上并未阻止全球市场的扩张。只限于购买本地产品的特种货币,将是让全球化车轮紧急刹车的一把货真价实的扳手。

This would help decrease demand for global transport – a major source of greenhouse gas emissions – while increasing local diversity and resilience and encouraging community integration. It would no longer make low wages and lax environmental legislation competitive advantages in world trade, as is currently the case.

只有如此,才会有助于减少对全球运输的需求,而这正是温室气体排放的主要来源,同时也能增加地方经济的多样性和弹性,并能鼓励社区的整合及认同。同时低工资和宽松的环境立法在世界贸易中也不会再像目前一样具有竞争优势。

Re-localising the bulk of the economy in this way does not mean that communities won’t need electricity, for example, to run hospitals, computers and households. But it would dismantle most of the global, fossil-fuelled infrastructure for transporting people, groceries and other commodities around the planet.

以地方化方式重新规划大部分的经济,并非意味地方社区,如医院、电脑和家庭将不需要电力。但将拆除大部分着眼于全球化,以化石燃料驱动的基础设施,这些基础设施是用于全球性地运输人口、杂货和其他大宗商品。

Solar power will no doubt be a vital component of humanity’s future, but not as long as we allow the logic of the world market to make it profitable to transport essential goods halfway around the world. The current blind faith in technology will not save us. For the planet to stand any chance, the global economy must be redesigned. The problem is more fundamental than capitalism or the emphasis on growth: it is money itself, and how money is related to technology.

毫无疑问,太阳能将是人类未来举足轻重的能源,但前提是我们不能让只要有利可图不惜绕半个地球运输基本物质,这样一种全球化市场的逻辑仍然当道。今天对科技的盲目信仰不会拯救人类。要让我们的地球还有希望,全球经济模式必须重新设计。此问题比资本主义或对经济增长的强调更为根本,因为这本身就是金钱,以及金钱与技术的关系。

Climate change and the other horrors of the Anthropocene don’t just tell us to stop using fossil fuels – they tell us that globalisation itself is unsustainable.

人类世纪发生的气候变化和其他恐怖事件不仅警告人类必须停止使用化石燃料,同时还警告我们,全球化本身将无以为继。

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