I opened my Facebook this morning to see a few environmentalists crowing about GM’s bankruptcy. If nothing else, this is uncharitable, as the company plans to lay off 21,000 more people. Way to combat the idea that environmentalists are a bunch of Birkenstock-wearing privileged bobos who don’t care about working class people, folks. At least there was some protection for workers’ retirement benefits in the restructuring.
But more to the point, crowing is also inaccurate. The car company will retain its four signature lines–Cadillac, Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet. It is cutting its Saturn and Hummer lines, or more accurately, selling them. It isn’t as though its cars on the road will vanish magically simply because of its economic hardship. If anything, this is probably bad news for the environment because these kinds of economic hardships give companies more evidence to argue against new, potentially capital-intensive changes needed to implement technology standards like the ones environmentalists were celebrating a few days ago or new engine technologies.
If this stuff were as easy as striking a strident normative stance , the planet would be sustainable already.