Most discussions, as the present, contain the unexpressed assumption that everyone wishes to avoid the disasters that extreme climate change will cause. Note, I wrote "extreme" climate change, because many of us realize that under the best of circumstances we shall have changes that will cause droughts, flooding, much suffering. Whether we have already passed the point of no return on extreme change seems to be unanswerable.
Most on the left assume, I think, that the delays and excuses for not having done anything serious about the fact of global warming come from greed and ignorance. Certainly, among our corporate rulers those qualities are well represented. Their are others, I believe, who are well informed and who do believe that disasters of drought, flooding, famine, disease are coming and will be evident in a decade and pronounced in a few decades.
With the great threat in prospect, how can there be so much complacency among the ruling elite of our country? I don't think it is complacency. Years ago, an executive of one of our large chemical manufacturers told me, his tongue loosened by several martinis, that environmental pollution is not important because most of us live too long and don't know what to do in our old age. I think the same attitude prevails about climate disaster: there are already far too many people on the planet, and disasters, famine, disease that would kill a billion people would not be a bad thing.
I think that among the corporate elite, the American ruling class, the failure to deal with global climate change realistically does not come from disbelief. I think they believe it but do not find the consequences unacceptable because they believe that there are too many people anyway.
In the disasters to come, major portions of the earth's human (and animal) population will die. The well-informed in the ruling class have a view today that is parallel to that of the exec I mentioned: the earth's population is too great.
I called this sort of thinking "Realwirtschaft." It is a companion to Realpolitik, which drives our imperialists. They go hand in hand and are the real underpinnings of our government's policies, towards global warming and global hegemony.