Create Your Own Climate Policies


I’m a soil scientist that focuses on bioremediation for damaged sites. As a side hustle, I work as an adjunct professor of environmental science at Brightwood College — a very small community college in the United States. The whole book is sustainability science, so my job is to take the information in this book and make it applicable to criminal justice and nursing students. It’s a great job because I get to strip out the propaganda and show the connections between what they are studying and the world around them.

In this line of work, I get to hear a lot of naive things. Things like “using less paper will use less trees” and “carbon tax is awesome ─ it will decrease our use.” The problem with these statements is that when you look at the individual problems in context of the wider world, these simplistic statements are just plain false. Both of those statements sound vaguely correct to the ears of the uninitiated in the world of economics. So let’s dig deeper and apply the very basic economics.

Why they are wrong

First, we’ll look at the forest for the trees. The foundation of economics and market is the ins and outs of supply and demand. As the demand goes up, you need to have more supply. Harvard University economics professor Edward Glaeser famously stated in a Freakonomics podcast episode (Why Bad Economics Are Such An Easy Sell: Freakonomics 2013), “When people use more paper, suppliers plant more trees. If we want bigger commercial forests, then we should use more paper, not less.”

A bigger commercial forest? Well. That would help absorb some carbon, wouldn’t it?

Now, let’s look briefly at carbon taxes. It’s a destructive idea that environmentalists are pushing. To the naive the idea of taxing something means you’ll have less of it. Sometimes, but that’s not what is being proposed.

The key phrase in the carbon tax proposal is carbon credit. This means that businesses can buy carbon credits from a more sustainable business if they go over the allotted amount. Sadly, this turns carbon into a commodity instead of something with hard limits and businesses could make money off it.

Of course, besides the inherent possibility for corruption is a harder fact. Countries that have already tried it have proven that it increases the production of carbon (Complete Disaster In The Making, 2012).

Create your own climate policies

Through Trump’s actions of pulling the United States out of the relatively ineffectual Paris Agreements, he created an awareness and need for grass-roots movements. This was so eloquently pointed out by Robert Panetta (2017), a freelance project manager that works on disseminating science information on a block chain system.

He’s got a point. This is a great time to create and crowdfund a climate project. So many people believe in it, that the field has the potential to tap into the everyday person’s energy to get things done. Some will throw money at it without the energy, and others will throw energy at it without the money. The key, as Panetta pointed out, is to open a dialogue.

This dialogue should accompany things like:

  • Science literacy ─ Understanding where propaganda goes over the top (Harvey, 2017), even when science notes that they were wrong (Santer, et al. 2017).
  • Economic efficiency ─ and budgeting money and time that brings about results.
  • Energy independence ─ how these groups can create energy to feed their activities, the how these energy schemes can be applied to a larger group of users.
  • Giving communities control ─ who else could better assess how their resources are produced and used?

When people muddle through these three facets of making a grassroots movement, they begin to become educated about all the factors that go into “going green.” They begin to understand it’s not as easy as they were told and may become disillusioned. Those that stick with it are driven to make a well informed, society friendly, and economically efficient impact.

Sources

Complete Disaster in the Making. (2012, September 15). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from http://www.economist.com/node/21562961

Harvey, F. (2017, June 28). World has three years left to stop dangerous climate change, warn experts. Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/28/world-has-three-years-left-to-stop-dangerous-climate-change-warn-experts

Santer, B. D., Fyfe, J. C., Pallotta, G., Flato, G. M., Meehl, G. A., England, M. H., … Zou, C.-Z. (2017, June 19). Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates. Nature Geoscience. Springer Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2973

Why Bad Environmentalism Is Such An Easy Sell: Full Transcript – Freakonomics. (2013, October 24). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from http://freakonomics.com/2013/10/24/why-bad-environmentalism-is-such-an-easy-sell-full-transcript/

Panetta, R. (2017, June 3). Why Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement is a good thing. Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-trump-pulling-out-paris-agreement-best-thing-happen-panetta

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Grace Conyers

Grace is a soil scientist, researcher, educator, and science communicator. She spends a lot of her day alternating between teaching, dancing in a lab while waiting for chemical reactions, reading, and plotting business adventures. She is the owner and a co-founder of Insanitek Research and Development. Grace can be found on social media on Minds, Google+, and Vid.me. She invites you to meet up with her on any of these platforms.

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