Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Hell And High Water"

Here's an unnerving graphic from Climate Progress (click image to enlarge):

I highly recommend Joseph Romm's new post in which he makes a tight argument for immediate action to mitigate human-caused climate change. As a practical matter, one does not even need to be 100 percent confident that the numbers in this graphic are correct in order to recognize the need for concern about this issue. That's like being comfortable playing Russian roulette because there's only a one-in-six chance that you'll blow your brains out when you pull the trigger. And the "business as usual" option looks to be pretty much equivalent to humanity blowing all our brains out.

Click here for more Podium posts on climate change. Or click on a label at the bottom of any post to see more posts on that topic.


TreeHugger: "Land Degradation Endangers Quarter of World Population"

Yikes. Add that on to the scenarios laid out in the Romm post linked above and our civilization's fragility really starts to become apparent.

Update II:

Here's an exchange about this article that I had on Facebook with a reader named Shawn.

As a libertarian, what are your thoughts on a cap-and-trade system many have proposed?

It looks to be a bureaucratic nightmare. I favor taxes aimed directly at emissions. The easiest way to do that is to tax all sales of fossil fuels. We could set up a system that increased those taxes by a set percentage annually while at the same time lowering other taxes so as to avoid any net increase in tax rates.

And offer tax credits/ rebates with the revenue raised? Alternative energy?

Well, that's one possibility. Or we could just use it to offset income taxes.

I'm no expert, but something obviously needs to be done.

Indeed. The extent to which most prominent libertarian voices continue to drag their heels in acknowledging the need for action is quite disappointing to me. If we don't recognize the problem and offer our own solutions, then the liberals/progressives will control the debate. And that wouldn't be good for anyone. Especially since the GOP is in almost complete denial about all of this.

Update III:

And David Goodner added:
I would support combining cap and trade with Patton's idea on taxing fossil fuels as well, and also throw in massive subsidies for solar and wind power, an end to subsidies for bio-fuels, and cannabis legalization (so we can stop cutting down trees to make paper).

I also think we need a cultural shift away from mono-cropping and meat. Farmers should only get government subsidies for increasing biodiversity, crop diversification, and lowering livestock while increasing plant production. Animals we breed for slaughter eat more of our farmed vegetables than humans do. Eating plants is more sustainable with less shit.

Global warming is not just industrial emissions, but also de-greening and concrete. Rain forests have to be protected and expanded. The earth basically needs to become a gigantic garden and farm so we can "carbon-sink" as much C02 as possible. We also have to stop creating dead zones in rivers, lakes, and oceans. That means no more plastic and drastic cuts in consumption.

The biggest problem with subsidies is making sure they are spent effectively. As a general rule, I think it's better for the government to provide disincentives for bad behavior and allow the market to take care of providing incentives for good behavior.

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