Let’s just accept it: America’s current political and economic systems are incapable of responding adequately to climate change. As things stand, reducing carbon emissions — or more broadly, shifting to sustainability — is a kind of add-on, a second-tier consideration, bolted onto systems and institutions that were built for other purposes.
Adequately responding to climate change is only possible within a larger industrial, economic, civic, and political system that is designed around sustainability. Sustainability must be the point of the system. Within such a context, efforts to build a better life and achieve prosperity would serve sustainability rather than work against it. Sustainability would be the source of its vitality, not an add-on, slowing it down and making it more expensive like a scrubber on a coal plant.