Remember that prevention of harm and repair of damage to ecology are also needed, not just atmospheric mitigation. A decimal degree reaps death on species who sustain us humans. There are engineers and politicos, though, working to mitigate the prime mover of climate disturbance: human industry-caused greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane.
Unfortunately, the two camps of politicos and engineers don’t help each other enough. Whatever your (pre)occupation, you bring that to the table. If you carry a hammer in your hand you see far more nails and opportunities to hammer than there really are. Same with a pen, a calculator, a brush, or an oil rig contract.
Politicos declaim ‘100%, change the legislation!’ and engineers declaim ‘100%, change the products!’ So we have answers from people who suggest overhauling corporation biased legislation, like Naomi Klein, and people like Bill Gates who suggest investing in technology. Gates is too much an engineer, Klein too much a politico.
A complacency thus reigns because of, on one side, too much faith in scientific goods saving us thanks to the free market, and, on the other side, inaction because the problem of carbon is conflated with the paralysing problems of the westernised world en bloc.
It’s a common enough pattern: don’t ask questions scientists say, unless you know the science. Seldom is it turned on them to not assume answers when you don’t know enough about the politics.
Maybe don’t answer climate policy questions, too, unless you know enough about how the scientific-industrial-complex works (without, as may happen, resorting to a learned ‘that sounds fancy so I distrust it!’ response). A middle-way between politico Klein and engineer Gates exists, and it is simple: a carbon tax. With sufficient rebate to American citizens, they become as beneficiary as Klein wants, and companies’ investments change as Gates wants.
(Yes, it’s more effective than The Paris Accord and Green New Deal. The Paris Accord is too slow and relaxed enough to not follow. The Green New Deal is too modest, local and convoluted.)
The carbon tax sceptics attack taxists like this: any advocate for the carbon tax has ‘never run a business’, or ‘had an economics lesson’, or ‘dealt with selfish neighbours’, or encountered the ‘human nature’ – but these are silly; and pretty irrelevant at the global scale. The question is about macro political economy, not autocatalytic selfish economics or token activists who may annoy.
Legislative and engineering solutions are needed, but contrary to bottom-up developments from entrepreneurs and engineers (in Musk we trust) top-down legislation predetermines what engineering gets done and what’s profitable. True, influence does run both ways, but to get radical changes started, top-down is the way. Just look at Germany and Costa-Rica and Sweden for more promising models. They are indeed more developed, in wellbeing, than the USA.
“The trouble is”, you may hear, “no country wants to bear the brunt and make the sacrifice”, but it’s not a sacrifice, it’s therapy. Once a tax begins, it will become normal and countries will follow the compelling example. (At one point in time the USA had to unhappily adopt European intellectual property rights, for example.) If a Democrat USA imposed tariffs on imports from countries which didn’t abide by a carbon tax, the carbon tax would work well worldwide. Granted there will be tribulation and trouble even with a tapered, year-on-year, tax. But pointedly: name a better alternative?
If The Market is given free reign in the direction of making everyone free to become as consumptive as U.S. Americans, we’ll need 3.9 Earths. We have but one.
Either a carbon tax comes in to nudge engineering development into alternative technologies at a quicker pace, or States put funding into engineering directly, to problem solve. When facing the threat of Nazi Germany and the USSR the US did just that spending ‘socialist‘ (state funded, not worker owned) billions on the Manhattan project, and The Moon Landing. That funding was thought, back then, a foolhardy investment in the impossible. Consider too, the trillions on nuclear weapons which had no market function but giving workers jobs; why not the same response for the more mutually assured destruction of our environment? We have fancier technology after all. Yet even the massive projects today are thin. Why not pool superpower resources to keep the children of today (who become the old) alive and well?
Given the scale of climate change, an ecological Manhattan project or the carbon tax are the ways to go. To keep under two degrees rise we need to halve emissions by 2050, and eliminate them by 2100 while the planet grows to 13 billion. (Per the IPCC’s scenario RCP2.16) Complex problems don’t deserve ‘it’s too complex to reduce to simple answers’ – which means nothing scalable gets done – they deserve an Occam’s Razor that each person can come to understand and accept and therefore advocate, like the carbon tax becoming a global meme. Once upon a time money had to become a global meme respected (despite its invisibility cloak) as translatable into everything: strange new things have always happened.
Leaving future history to suffer because of ‘business as usual’ or ‘the invisible hand’ will look like dogmatic faith (on a low odds gamble) to our children. They are bound to be astonished. How could they be so complacent? How, so naïve? Petition to The House of Representatives to prevent that; persuade everyone to support the carbon tax. 3500 economists and 27 Nobel Laureates agree. No more: ‘but the market. . .’
A bad environment; a bad economy. Numbers do not speak for themselves, but the people speaking numbers have changed their minds. Delaying action, the majority of studies agree, will be more expensive than forthright action now. Insurance companies factor-in its impact better than many governments do already. We can do better than that. Nothing is more important, shared, and democratic.
Time to talk #carbontax for a good change.