No rational American wants to live on polluted lands, drink dirty water, or breathe unclean air. At the same time, not many people are willing or able to sacrifice providing for their families today for a potentially unfilled promise of better weather tomorrow. There is a clear need to provide some level of environmental protection and resource management to protect our way of life for future generations. But there needs to be a balance between economic tradeoffs and attainable results. Protecting our environment does not need to be a dichotomy between growth and protection but can include proactive measure to offset production outputs and reducing radical carbon.
Protecting our environment should not be a partisan issue. Clean air, water, and land is good for all Americans. Increasing fuel efficiency and resource utilization can improve return of investments through reduces supply chain spend. While there may be disagreement with the potential forecasts of climate change, if there are reasonable approaches to reduce carbon output, society should consider it. That should not impact any ideological positions on the issue.
The problem with the argument made by climate change advocates is the level of economic activity that societies need to forgo and the equity of the allocation of responsibility. Furthermore, there is a great deal of political leanings of anti-capitalism that typically finds its way into the narratives of these groups. Additionally, there are some areas of environmental science and regulation that many of these individuals purposefully overlook in order to drive their message.
Climate change advocates find it important for people to accept the idea that climate change is a direct responsibility of human production. While human behaviors can contribute to the problem, there is legitimate doubt of whether advocates are misreading projections or what degree does natural life contribute to varying levels of carbon. While climate change needs to be solved in rational and balanced approaches, advocates focus on attacking capitalism and what they perceive as consumerism.
There are some credible questions of whether people advocating for climate change fixes account for natural variations in weather. Many meteorologists believed that weather patters are cyclical over wide spans of time, repeating patterns across generations not years. Could the prisoner of the moment mentality factor into their gloom and doom scenarios? Additionally, there are concerns over the inability to properly track and calculate carbon emission.
A significant problem lies within the ability to accurately track carbon emissions, assign carbon usage, and reliably report results. The variance in western nations and their eastern counterparts is reportedly almost 25%. Also, carbon used in transit between nations is reported to be untracked and unassigned to any nation, as which economy bears responsibility is highly questionable. While the method put forth of tracking carbon may be useful and somewhat accurate, it may not appease policymakers when responsibility is assigned. Nations will undoubted bear the cost spurred by others without reducing the variance in carbon tracking.
There are few rational proposals put forth by climate advocates. One is to halt manufacturing and production that emits carbon dioxide. As aforementioned above, these individuals obsess with having the public accept their viewpoint on responsibility so that proposals to slow production could gain acceptance. For the millions of employees that work in the impacted industries, they will receive no concern from climate advocates, as seen with the American coal industry. For many rational people, the economic hardship and poverty would not be an acceptable trade off for a potential savings of only a couple degrees over a century.
Another more recent idea was to impose a carbon tax. Like other taxes, the purpose is to create a negative incentive to reduce the behavior being taxed. In theory, a carbon tax would reduce carbon emissions, due to the additional cost associated. The hope is both producers and consumers reduce behaviors that emit carbon. But the carbon tax idea unfairly burdens the poor and working-class citizens, as end user consumption cannot adequately be assigned at the gas pump. There are no clear defined rules of how funds will be spent, assuming towards environmental programs. Not a guarantee.
The other idea is applying a cap and trade system focused around carbon. Producers would receive an allocated limit on carbon emission, which they could trade the excess to those in need of additional carbon capacity. There are obvious issues with this approach. Again, carbon tracking is not completely accurate, which could make transactions difficult to fully track. Moreover, there will be some level of corruption that will take place in the regulated market, which is a common occurrence in heavily regulated markets.
Can societies protect the environment while still pursuing their economic interests and elimination of poverty? That would likely require improving energy efficiency to reduce resource utilization. Furthermore, there will need to be concerted efforts to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. Proactively reducing carbon, which would offset the emissions from economic production. More climate thinkers should place greater priority on identifying ways to actively address the carbon in the environment.
An obstacle in pursuing carbon capture technology is the upfront cost and again the measurement issue. Carbon capture requires technology to take carbon dioxide out of the air, so it can be buried in the ground. Government could spur investment in such technologies by providing tax breaks for companies that pursue innovation which will scale up expansion of efforts. Tax breaks could also be afforded to companies that scale down carbon emissions and maintain it over time. More positive and proactive approach than seeking to stop economic production.
Another potential solution would be seeking to reverse damage, which some researchers believe is possible. According to study, releasing certain elements high in the atmosphere can reduce carbon through binding and reflect damaging sun rays, which would then help reduce the melting of glaciers. The cost of such operations is estimated at $32 billion. A large expense, but cheaper than other alternatives. If the approach is possible, this could help reverse the problem.
There is a need to improve the condition of our environment and to expand conservation in a balanced and rational approach. The issue should not be a dichotomous debate, but one that brings all rational ideas to the table. Is the gloom and doom projection realistic and believable? Maybe or maybe not. But that should not stop efforts to be more efficient.