i would rephrase your "distraction" wording to say that climate change is a consequence of capitalism.
With this I traditionally disagree. As mentioned numerous times before, temperature of the planet went up and down many times without the interference of humans. And, once again, this is not relevant: even if I believed that current warming is caused by humans, do you think it is practically possible to reverse it or even slow it down? Population grew from 1.6 to over 6 billion since 1900. GDP per capita in most countries increased five to ten times. The number of car per household, floor space per household, calorie intake per capita and pretty much every other per capita indicator significantly increased since 1900. And you reckon you can return the economy to the production levels of 1900? Do you possibly believe it is possible to make the economy clean enough to to return its environmental impact to 1900 levels? Good luck. But any measures short of extreme will only create jobs for bureaucrats and new taxes.
On the other hand, we could concentrate on other things. First, amplify the potentially positive effects of climate change. For example, shift agriculture profiles according to new climatic zones. Two, mitigate the effects of climate as they happen. Predictions are useless, and we have seen so many of them go wrong it's not even funny anymore. As far as NY and newborn kids are concerned, I say both will be fine. Most effects of climate change will be much less dramatic than we are led to believe.
I agree with most of what you say here. But I think where most activists, politicians, and scientists get it wrong is that they try to solve the MMGW problem from the confines of simply manipulating current capitalism in a way that will hurt some economies through taxes/fines and not others. All the same political wranglings we see in Washington over healthcare and taxes. Who gets screwed to pay for what?
What we need is a fundamental overhaul of our economic system that looks to provide abundance at the least possible waste and the least possible environmental impact. We have the technologies right now to do this. And the end result of that push would be lowering to nearly eliminating greenhouse gas emissions while providing all the food, energy, goods, and services we need (or desire).
Capitalism as it currently functions is creating a growing wealth gap that's leading to social and political problems that are only going to get worse as we run up against resource limits. A few ultra wealthy individuals/corporations control such a large portion of total wealth that they've been able to purchase the political systems to ensure their continued pillaging. The average citizen is nothing but an input in to the system that exists to funnel the productivity of that individual up to the ownership class in the form of fiat currency. Competitive capitalism by it's nature is not an "economy", because it encourages the depletion of resources as quickly as possible. A true "economy" would seek to maximize the efficiency of our resource use.
I'd start with putting our capital into a few moon-shot overhauls of our energy, food, transportation, and production philosophies, in that order. This would put us well on our way to abundance in a much more equitable fashion than pure market driven competitive capitalism.
Energy - The goal is to make energy so abundant as to be basically an afterthought, and as GHG neutral as possible. From everything I've learned, thorium reactors as base load generation along with much heavier implementation of local solar and wind would be the way to go. Thorium reactors a known technology, are safe, and the waste is an isotope that treats cancers. Have as much on-site solar as possible and wind where it's feasible. Subsidize the shit out of it.
Find the money in the military budget. It's a fucking travesty that we have over 600 bases strewn around over 125 countries when there are people in need in our own country. Take at least half that money and manpower and put it to work rebuilding our infrastructure.
Food - Remove the subsidies for animal agriculture. Period. If you want a steak, you need to pay the real environmental cost, which is something like $35/pound for even the most horrifically factory farmed piece of shit. Not to mention the water use for factory animal farming. And I'm not even touching on the health costs of our animal consumption or the ethics of factory animal farming.
US taxpayers subsidize animal agriculture to the tune of $38billion/year here. Grain feed crops for animal agriculture eat up another chunk of money and a ton of land. Fruits and vegetables receive basically zero. Take the animal subsidies and feed them directly into actual nutrition generating crops. Invest heavily in vertical farms nearer the cities. These vertical farms have the benefits of a year round growing season using LED lighting and controlled climate, 80% reduction in water use, 100% reduction of pesticide use, and the ability to be nearly 100% automated.
The goal is to make nutritious food as abundant as possible, as efficiently as possible. And as cheaply as possible. $38 billion/year would make that happen in short order.
Transportation - Stop investing in new automobile infrastructure. It's built out.
In the cities, invest in modern urban transportation such as Mikael Colville-Andersen and Gabe Klein talk about here:
Embrace autonomy and electrification of our automobiles and trucks so we can better utilize the infrastructure we have, especially for transportation outside the urban centers.
Re-invest in our rail system for moving goods long distance.
Moving money from highway building to other priorities will more than pay for these changes, and have the benefit of actually addressing traffic congestion and safety rather than just inducing more demand by building more lanes.
Production - First step is to implement a cradle-to-grave system so that a company is responsible for the entire life cycle of a product. They have to account for the impact of the raw materials to make it, and have a plan to reuse or recycle everything in the product and packaging after it's useful life is over.
No more shipping the waste we generate to India for them to burn for precious metals or dump it into the water if they can't use it. Enough of this shit.
Begin to move to a demand based production system rather than a supply based system. In other words, instead of Ikea stocking 500 of a certain chair in each store, they'd only make the chair and ship it to you once it's been ordered. Slightly more lead time on a product, but several orders of magnitude less waste. Localizing production with open source design and 3D printing will speed this along. Now resources are going where demand asks for it instead of supply creating demand.
No need to get UN approval or negotiate carbon reduction deals to get any of this done. Just reorganize our priorities. There's more than enough capital available to us to make this happen in a decade. Especially if we reign in the military industrial complex to a rational level. We set the example, and the world will follow.
Pipe dreams to be sure, but I think it's either we move in a direction similar to the above or we end up in a total Oligarchy.