Friday, November 10, 2006

The economics of climate change

Originally uploaded by chrisevans.
"Climate change is the greatest market failure the world has seen."

Thus says the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, apparently the most comprehensive report on this topic ever published.

Basically, they are confirming what we all know but refuse to face and take responsibility for: the climate is changing ridiculously fast and it's going to have some really horrible consequences.

They have recommendations that we need to undertake NOW:

  1. Carbon pricing, through taxation, emissions trading or regulation, so that people are faced with the full social costs of their actions.
  2. Technology policy, to drive the development and deployment at scale of a range of low-carbon and high-efficiency products
  3. remove barriers to energy efficiency, and to inform, educate and persuade individuals about what they can do to respond to climate change

I really have to ask if people are THAT dumb.

We have known for a long time that this is a problem. Al Gore got on the war path and some people started to say, "Well, I guess maybe I should think about it."

In the end, I suspect the problem is this:

"The most vulnerable -- the poorest countries and populations -- will suffer earliest and most, even though they have contributed least to the causes..."

Sadly, I think the reason that we (and I mean North America and most of the people that I know) are not really doing anything or for that matter, all that concerned, is that we believe that this really won't affect us.

We are protected by our affluence.
And perhaps we are.

But perhaps not so for our children.
"All countries will be affected."

Perhaps we have the luxury of kidding ourselves, temporarily. But it will catch up with us if we don't do our part.

While that doesn't mean freezing our asses off in winter, it may mean NOT freezing our asses off in summer. I mean, seriously, there are no barriers to energy efficiency for us, unless they are our own refusals to spend an extra couple of bucks on the more efficient light or appliance.

And we are informed, educated individuals about what we can do to respond to climate change. Think about it -- your are, aren't you?

Apparently, we just need to be spoon-fed. We need change to be made SO easy that we don't even realize we're making a change that means a sustainable future.

We need to add our own item to this list if anything is going to happen: elect a governing body that puts this issue FIRST. And write to those governing bodies to let them know what you care about so that they don't lose steam once they get into office.

If we, as the market and the electoral body, make it important, it will become economically and politically viable for the entrepreneurs and politicians to make a go of it.

OK, I need to go take a cold shower.

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