Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is Cap and Trade Really the Answer?

I really am sick and tired of the flat out disinformation about global climate change.

First, many denier claims are just a manipulation of data, or a statement taken out of context to fit their denier agenda. Here is an example of how they do things, and more importantly how it is not true.

Second, others like senator Inhofe, who flat out just say climate change is a hoax. My father falls into this category. He just says it is not true. He can't tell me one reason why he believes that way, but that's the way it is.

Of course Inhofe is easy to explain. But why do people like my father, just say it can't be? Some believe God will bring the end to the world. Agreed, but who is saying the world is going to end because of global climate change? I don't believe that, but I do believe many of the worlds citizens, and mostly the poor ones, will be adversely affected by the ramifications of a warmer planet. Is it that people just don't like being told what to do? As a stay at home dad, I can attest to that. Already my 5 year old is rebelling in regards to chores and other things. But why would we rebel in the face of science? Have scientist continually wronged us in the past? Am I missing something? Has the scientific method been debunked while I was putting Ella to bed? I just don't get it.

With that said, I do get why people have issues with Cap and Trade. It is hard to understand why we need to have a carbon-trading market, even though those methods were used successfully to mitigate acid rain. Cap and Trade is still hard to explain, people are going to have to pay more for things that cause carbon to be emitted, to fix something they can't really see, and many don't understand, or believe. What needs to be explained is the benefits of a more energy independent nation, not the effects of carbon emissions.

An article I read today in the Vine, may present that opportunity to change tact with messaging, while silently putting to bed an unpopular, but needed energy initiative.

The story by Bradford Plummer, references a new study that may dispel the thought that a pound of CO2 emitted anywhere basically has the same atmospheric consequences.

Plummer writes.

But a new study just published inEnvironmental Science and Technologyby Stanford's Marc Jacobson adds a slight twist to this standard view. Older research has found that local "domes" of high CO2 levels can often form over cities. What Jacobson found was that these domes can cause serious health impacts in the area: Among other things, they worsen the effects of localized air pollutants like ozone and particulates, which cause respiratory diseases and the like. As a result, Jacobson estimates that local CO2 emissions cause anywhere from 300 to 1,000 premature deaths in the United States each year. And presumably the problem's much worse in developing countries.

This study if correct, could have an impact on Cap and Trade. If a pound of CO2 isn't the same worldwide, in terms of atmospheric, and human effect, like the study suggests, then the CO2 market is changed drastically. Because a pound is not a pound is not a pound. They are different, they supply different effects at different times in different parts of the world. Which is still to say CO2 needs to be mitigated, but maybe we need a different strategy.

Of course the goal must still be to reduce carbon emissions. But maybe the story should focus on Jobs, National Security, Energy Independence, and then Global Climate Change. Instead of trying to explain something that people cannot see, much less understand, in our current political climate.

The focus should be on the tangible. The wind farms and solar fields, and the people who need to build those products. The soldier who's life is a stake every time he has to drive the fuel tanker to refill, and how we can cut those convoys in half with smarter solutions. The Middle East Dictator or King who builds hundreds of ultra conservative schools preaching hatred toward the west, while using our dollars to stop the democratic nature of a people. Frame a story which ties Energy Independence to a stronger, safer homeland, while stimulating our innovators to market these ideas, using the power of Americas economy to provide solutions worldwide. Then show how the global climate is a by product of this initiative.

I truly believe if we frame the benefits of energy independence in a tangible way, it not only makes more sense, it provides less room for misinformation. But what do I know, I'm just a stay at home dad.

UPDATE: article from WSJ.


  1. Why get excited over wind power? It has to be heavily subsidized, it's a financial loser, it kills birds, it does creat emissions including noise pollution.

  2. Thank you for your comment

    Wind is a clean energy source in its relative infancy. I do not have a problem with subsidizing a market until economies of scale kick in. As long as those subsides work toward the goal of a more energy independent nation.

    But the truth is Oil, and Gas get over 36 billion dollars a year in Gov. subsides. They are some of the most profitable businesses in the World. With an environmental track record that speaks for itself. Do you back those subsides?

    Although you make some interesting points, I do not believe it is time to pull the plug on the prospects of clean energy from wind. It is just too early in my opinion.