Unpublished but submitted to C&EN, September 2012
Rudy inadvertently hit the nail on the head (“Once More on Climate Change”, Sept 10, 2012, p.3) concerning climate change with his observation that “…we continue to do next to nothing about it.” Implicit in his bewildered despair is the notion that it is about time our wise overlords simply imposed a solution upon us for our own good, because, well, “we” know what is best. I’m sorry but call me skeptical of any top-down paternalistic government solution that involves the arbitrary imposition of new taxes (carbon) in order to fund new bureaucratically driven spending whose only constraint is how much “bacon” Congress needs to bring home to get reelected. Perhaps I’m being unfair. Certainly Congress has a flawless track record in passing programs that never go over budget and always solve the exact problem they were trying to solve on the first attempt? Yes? No? That’s what I thought.
If one wishes to advance the cause of combatting climate change, do the following: demand that government should play no role in “solving” climate change (what do you have to lose, they haven’t done anything yet anyways?). The result of this would be that 99% of all climate change skeptics would lay down their arms in this fight. They see increased government interference in their lives as a greater threat than climate change. If you remove that threat, what do they care what you think about the climate?
If climate change is the dire threat it is made out to be, then surely it should not be that difficult to convince people to privately find a solution that would give the public an economic incentive (carrot) to use that solution as opposed to a political penalty (stick) for not using it. For example, if energy from a new approach were one-tenth the cost of fossil fuels, people would drop their use of fossil fuels like a hot potato. No coercion necessary. So instead of whining and stamping your foot that big daddy government isn’t doing what you want – go out and lead the way yourself. If you aren’t willing to risk your own money in such an endeavor but are willing to risk someone else’s (the taxpayer)… well, the English language has several words for that sort, none of them very flattering.