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Cap and Trade Makes a Comeback

Many of us thought that earlier this year we saw the end of cap and trade. But with the oil disaster, cap and trade is poised to make a big comeback. But is emissions trading the answer or just a Band-Aid on a bullet hole?

Though there has been a great deal of debate surrounding cap and trade in its most recent context of carbon trading, cap and trade in history has had its successes. It all started back in 1988 when former President George H.W. Bush came into office in the midst of a major environmental issue, acid rain—rain that was laden with sulfur dioxide seemingly from power plants burning coal. Bush, who billed himself as the “environmental president,” took action and in 1990, worked to pass the Clean Air Act. The Act provided provisions for emissions trading that were supported by many on both sides of the aisle, because it was seen as a way to allow free markets the ability to determine the cost of emissions and gave the market a way to reach the government’s environmental goals.

Today it seems allowance trading is making a comeback. Over the next few months, expect a number of proposals to be presented on the Hill and in the media. Specifically who and what cap and trade will affect and how much it is going to cost is the big question.

There are some challenges. As cap and trade of the 90s was successful in reducing the amount of sulfur dioxide in the air, we can assume that the carbon cap and trade of today should be effective at curbing our carbon habit. But we cannot fall into a false sense of security, believing that regulating carbon will solve all our problems. Where the Clean Air Act was a good start, it wasn’t a full team effort. It only solved one distinct issue. Like a baseball game, a team needs to have players covering each position. If you have a strong pitcher but are weak at all of the other positions, you are bound to lose games. The Clean Air Act was one player, the capping of carbon may be another – but even combined, the two are not enough.

In order to solve the environmental issues our world is facing, it is necessary to look at the whole problem, not just the parts. We have more issues than just carbon. There are hundreds of other pollutants out there. Species are falling like dominoes, our consumption continues to increase, and the price we are paying for products does not accurately reflect the true costs on our environment, the impact to the people who manufacture our goods and the destruction of the ecosystems being stripped of natural resources. Take, for example, the spill in the Gulf: If the damage was to be measured by the traditional carbon footprint, the spill’s impact would be minimal, and we all know this is not the case. This is the challenge in measuring only one variable: it is impossible to see the entire reality.

What we need are environmental czars, people appointed by government and industry that are actively involved in the business and bureaucracy of sustainability, and that have the interest of future generations at heart.

We need players on every base, in the outfield and in the bullpen taking a team approach to our consumption-based economy and helping us move through regulation and innovation into the next millennia. Continuing to focus the market on one item at a time in a very complex hierarchy of issues creates a lopsided strategy. With this approach at the end of the day we have trained the market to respond to only one stimulus and have just one specialty. (Imagine a baseball team comprised of great pitchers with no one to catch.)

Balance is key, and the only way it will come is through looking at our environmental issues collectively and creating strategies that move the entire market forward simultaneously. Unfortunately, this is about as easy as creating a world class baseball team — but just because the road is hard does not mean we should stall the journey.

And harder yet may be convincing Washington to act as referees and not to suit up and play the game.

Derrick Mains is the CEO of GreenNurture, the corporate sustainability software company. GreenNurture.com harnesses the collective intelligence of employees to drive sustainability efforts forward around social, environmental and financial performance. The resulting analytics provide the necessary intelligence for decision-makers and offer transparency to stakeholders. Mains can be reached at Derrick@greennurture.com and followed on Twitter at @enviralmentalst.

Derrick Mains
Derrick Mains is the CEO of GreenNurture, the corporate sustainability software company. GreenNurture.com harnesses the collective intelligence of employees to drive sustainability efforts forward around social, environmental and financial performance. The resulting analytics provide the necessary intelligence for decision-makers and offer transparency to stakeholders. Mains can be reached at Derrick@greennurture.com and followed on Twitter at @enviralmentalst.
 
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21 thoughts on “Cap and Trade Makes a Comeback

  1. This is another angle to not do anything. We know it workded for SO2, Look what taking out lead from gasoline did. The root of our global climate extremes is CO2. The root of a massive spill in the gulf was not using the (MACT) Maximum Available Control Technilogy and allowing BP to use the lowest cost approach to get the most return for their big paychecks.

  2. Frank,

    How is getting more comprehensive “another angle to not do anything”?

    I am not saying cap and trade will not work to do what it is intended to do. Just that cap and trade is not the be-all-end-all that it is made out to be. Cap and trade is one element in a comprehensive strategy.

    The problem is that much of the push to correct Sulphur Dioxide issues of the late 80’s did not correlate into sustained action beyond that issue. And it is likely that if we were to get Cap and Trade tomorrow that so much focus would go into the execution that many other issues would be pushed aside. Similar to the focus that started a few years back around Global Warming, a line in the sand was drawn – you were either for or against it. But a comprehensive strategy that speaks to ALL the issues of climate change and sustainability would have engaged and empowered many more stakeholders in the process,
    including the naysayers (no one wants more pollution, less natural spaces and loss of species).

    I tend to think that CO2 itself isn’t the root but the unfettered, uncontrolled, unconscious use of CO2 by all of us.

    Unfortunately, since I wrote this article the White House has given up on Cap and Trade, so we will continue barreling down the path of unsustainable action until someone leads us in another direction.

    Best regards and thanks for commenting.
    Derrick

  3. Nice article, Derrick. I remember in the fall of 1990 when my college professor, Tom Tietenberg, would leave class for a week or so and travel down to D.C. to share his views on how “the original” cap and trade system should be implemented. The concept is relatively simple but as you pointed out, only focusing on one player in the game is not an effective strategy.

  4. While it is important that we do not focus on only one thing and become short-sighted, we need to take some definitive action. As the ecosystem has different groups with different interests and view points, it is ideal to have consensus in some small areas and move ahead than striving for the elusive goal of having a consensus on the bigger picture.

  5. Well done Derrick. It’s very good to see intelligent articles that recognise that simply addressing one aspect at a time is not a very good way to solve the basic problems; too many people requiring too much material/energy/resources that creates too much impact on the ecosphere (let alone the predictable eventual consequences for the conventional economy).

  6. This article presents an unrealizable, utopian dream of how to implement massive change. But the real world simply doesn’t work that way. It never has, and it never will.

    The idea of “environmental czars” is a case in point. The idea of such a czar, if I understand the opinion being expressed, is that he/she would be engaged on all aspects of sustainablity simultaneously, and across broad swaths of the economy. But no one can handle that degree of complexity in anywhere close to an optimal fashion – in fact, no organization can do so either. Just look at how the government, or any large corporation for that matter, typically addresses large problems: often through a ‘one size fits all’ approach that is sub-optimal; and that allows circumstances to develop in individual cases that lead to undesirable side effects that were not foreseen. The truth is, that the devil is in the very details, and in the individual cases of implementation, that one cannot focus on while leading the charge on the broad initiative. Conversely, if the czar (or some sub-group with authority delegated by the czar) tries to focus on the details, the leadership of the broad initiatives suffers. That’s reality.

    The proposal that we simply sweep everything under the sustainability sun into the hands of one or several “czars”, who we expect to deal with the myriad of complexities, interactions, unforseen results, competing special interests, etc., etc.; is indeed a proposal that will lead to inaction on all fronts.

    Finally, can you seriously imagine that Congress, or any representatives of the business world, will ever agree to putting such broad powers into the hands of a relative few unelected individuals? Look at how the Senate recently and utterly failed to reach agreement to even consider cap&trade – which would address just ONE aspect (AGW) of the overarching set of environmental concerns you are talking about.

    The only way forward is to demand actions now. Focused actions on narrow fronts. Actions that can be implemented within the existing structure of government and the economy. It’s far more important that we simply get moving.

  7. Doug said:
    “But the real world simply doesn’t work that way. It never has, and it never will.”

    We’ve never ever faced this situation before – now we have reached the limits of growth economics. Just because what is needed looks very difficult or impossible to people who are just used to spouting conventional attitudes based on shallow one dimensional analysis doesn’t mean that it can’t or won’t be done.
    Weakly saying that “it never will” is hardly the spirit to win but it certainly is an outlook bound to fail.

  8. Thanks for all the great comments.

    Doug,

    Massive change is right here. The fact that we are communicating from all around the world via the internet, 500M folks on facebook, twitter appearing and seemingly overnight has millions of users, zynga bombarding us all with farms, mafia wars and bejeweled blitz consuming a collective billion hours a week of gaming activity, the rise of hummus LOL

    Massive change happens every day. Massive change is the new norm.

    My point in the article is not that we shouldn’t do anything – but that we cannot rely on singular strategies to resolve our problems.

    In reality there is only one singular strategy that will solve all this. Use less and refuse to consume.

    Frank says above that C02 is the root of the problem, but the real root is unconscious, irresponsible consumption.

    My point with czars is not that we have one non-elected official that has ultimate control – just that we have people everywhere in every department of government, in every major industry, in every company that are concerned with the rights of future generations and that our justice department becomes willing to prosecute companies whose impact extends beyond this generation. Using the 7th Generation model of having someone look out for future generations.

    The truth is we need to start somewhere but we cannot forget that all carbon is, is a start.

  9. Let me just note that I believe we are all on the very same page with respect to the need for change, and the need to address the very serious environmental problems facing us. Personally, I see the GHG problem as the most pressing. Others may rank things differently.

    I stand by my point that change will never occur through some miraculous new mechanism, be it a sustainability czar, sudden realization by the masses that their personal lifestyles have to change, or any other sweeping solutions. That’s nothing more than pipe dreaming.

    I do believe that we have the capacity to address our environmental problems – but real change happens in the trenches. And that means focusing on specific problems and specific methods to address them. Far from having an outlook that is bound to fail, I believe that is the exact attitude we need to press forward with in order to succeed. Pinning our hopes on the sort of sweeping changes being discussed will simply fritter away our remaining margin (if any) that we still have to face up to our problems.

    Let’s get a program in place to start dealing with GHG emissions. That alone has proven difficult up to this point. Reacting to that difficulty by proposing even more sweeping changes right up front certainly won’t break that logjam. So let’s just fix that particular logjam, somehow. Then, let’s move on to another big environmental problem (perhaps the sustainable use of fresh water, or something else). That will undoubtedly bring on yet another logjam of conflicting opinions and special interests. But we can and will work that one out as well. And then we’ll move on to the next problem, etc., etc. At the end of that long series of individual fixes, we will find ourselves with that new society you hope for, having gradually replaced our current consumption-oriented lifestyle with something else. But the change will have come about gradually (as ALL massive change must occur, at least as far as altering human behaviors is concerned). That’s where I believe the real hope lies.

  10. “Massive change is right here. The fact that we are communicating from all around the world via the internet, 500M folks on facebook, twitter appearing and seemingly overnight has millions of users, zynga bombarding us all with farms, mafia wars and bejeweled blitz consuming a collective billion hours a week of gaming activity, the rise of hummus LOL

    Massive change happens every day. Massive change is the new norm.”

    Derrick, those examples are trivial changes. Sure, the internet has forever changed the ways in which we communicate, make friends, do business, etc., etc. But those are all trivial in comparison to the truly fundamental changes we are talking about here.

    Just try convincing a mainstream individual that he/she needs to cut way back on their consumption habits by buying locally grown food, driving less (if at all), buying solar panels for their home, collecting rainwater, giving up their huge lawns, or whatever. They’ll laugh in your face.

    Because the changes that affect people’s everyday lifestyles are hard. Making those kinds of changes across whole societies is truly a massive undertaking.

    Comparing that magnitude of personal lifestyle change, to the changes taking place on the internet, is naive. There is no comparison.

  11. We wouldn’t need “czars” (which most people would fear as excess government) if we simply chose to replace 95% of coal with natural gas. That would cut CO2 emissions by over half (and some other concerns too). This solution (for the meantime) is cheaper than trying to cut the same amount of CO2 by use of renewable energy.

    Imagine that, in ten years, we use more energy but emit less!

    Of course, that gives corporations time to research the {best} way to collect {and store} solar energy which {must} then be maunufactured in giant competing robotic PV (or other) factories.

    Only through mass automation can we afford clean energy. And there is NO need for cap and trade if we instead ban coal in favor of NG in the meantime `~’

  12. Solar energy can solve these problems if placed upon post mounted systems (try not to imagine 30,000 sq miles of bulldozed deserts). Robotic appendages making that amount of affordable PV (or better) would also eliminate unemployment for quite some time…

  13. The mistake is assuming that the consumer is not intelligent enough to make choices that are sustainable. Government mandate is ineffective to change human behavior. Control is impossible. However when consumers are educated to the facts, they generally make good, healthy and sustainable choices.
    Capitalism works to create innovation that is ultimately more likely to improve lives and the environment. Evil companies are made up of humans trying to do the best they can.
    Demonize consumption at your own peril. 70% of our economy is consumer driven. Right now consumers are going galt. They don’t like what is being jammed down their throats by incompetent government functionaries.
    It must be nice to dream of wholesale changes by government edict. They invariably fail without the consumer supporting the process.
    Here is an idea, decentralize. Get as local as possible.
    For example: the brush that burns every year in southern california could be harvested and used as feed stock for energy or packaging. Now we spend billions of dollars putting out catastrophic fires, we could save money, ghg and lives by using the dangerous brush instead of waiting for the crisis .
    All over the country there are ag waste feedstocks unvalued.
    Everyone used to have cisterns to capture rain water.
    Energy is misplaced on CO2. The dominant GHG is water vapor. 95% . CO2 is less then one percent and only 3% of that is man caused. CO2 has been at higher levels in the past with no heat increase. We really don’t know what happens to CO2. ,millions of tons are unaccounted for .

    The big problem is plastic in the ocean.
    We should focus on that.

    Solving that problem would be a massive change I can believe in

  14. You advocate having “people everywhere in every department of government, in every major industry, in every company that are concerned with the rights of future generations and that our justice department becomes willing to prosecute companies whose impact extends beyond this generation”. But very few companies would actually be interested in funding such positions, or in investing those people with the authority to change how the companies choose to do business. Can you imagine BP creating such positions? And allowing those people to change BP’s mode of operations? Hah.

    And since when have business leaders, corporations, politicians, or others; ever shown a willingness to think ahead 7 generations? And take the tough decisions today that are required to protect such a far-in-the-future legacy?

    Much as I would love a set of simple solutions to our many crises, I’m afraid that we just have to slog out every hard-fought incremental victory one messy step at a time. I don’t believe you have articulated any viable alternative.

  15. Doug,

    I definitely do not think we are on the same page. I am all for capping Greenhouse gases, but do not feel that is the be all end all solution that it is made out to be.

    Capping CO2 does little for the loss of biodiversity, lost forests, clear cutting, mountain top mining etc. etc. etc.

    It seems to me you are completely unaware of the massive changes that are occurring around sustainability globally.

    Take a look at the KPI’s (key performance indicators) that the market uses to measure performance just a few years ago only a handful of companies published a CSR report now it is standard operating procedure. BP was the leader in integrated reporting around financial and non-financial goals while Lord Brown was at the helm. I know because I worked with BP on product stewardship initiatives during Lord Brown’s time as CEO.

    Today we have GRI and IIRC (International Integrated Reporting Committee) working together with the big four accounting firms to create a global standard for integrated reporting. If they would adopt the idea of czars that are reporting impact on future generations and would require transparency into their findings we would see them in every major company and government overnight. Actually you could argue that Sarbanes Oxley already demands this as lack of sustainability is a risk factor that could cause substantial losses to shareholders (i.e. BP).

    Very few public companies now would dare not to provide a CSR report or have a sustainability plan.

    For instance NASDAQ’s Global Sustainability Index (NASDAQ OMX CRD) is voluntary but about 50% of the listed companies are reporting on 200 metrics around all aspects of the triple bottom line (that number is up from about 20% eight months ago). And those who aren’t reporting are scrambling to report because the market reaction to not acting is too risky.

    This is a pretty big change in less than a few years, Wall Street changing the way they index public companies and those companies overhauling standard accounting principles creating new departments and providing transparency that would make both Sarbanes and Oxley proud.

    This is not about giving someone ultimate power or authority it is about thinking through impact and decisions. It is about being conscious. It is about education. It is about transparency.

    One the smartest environmentalists I know gave a speech once about how the Egyptians had plastics, they had beach balls and grocery bags, disposable pens and plastic forks – but in the centuries since the Pharaohs all that has disappeared and all we were left with was . . . their paper. That threw the crowd for a loop – we hadn’t thought that way before or even considered that paper’s impact could far outlast plastic. It was a point of epiphany for those hearing his words. The point here is that MOST people have no clue what their impact even is. The first time I heard that a 16oz steak had the same carbon footprint as driving 40 miles in a Hummer I was stunned, but I checked the facts and low and behold eating meat was by far the biggest impact that lead to me becoming a vegan.

    Thinking that the expectation, desire and possibility of massive change in a world full of massive change is actually pretty naive.

    And to think that the massive change in every aspect of our lives that technology has brought to us is somehow so minimal that it does not affect the core fiber of what we do, how we interact and live on a daily basis . . . really, I guess if you are a small sheep farmer in Africa, then maybe.

    Just look at the time spent on Farmville alone last week in North America, millions of hours, taken from other activity and focused toward a game this is a fundamental movement of actions towards a common goal. Oh and the average player of social games is a 43 year old college educated female with a job (talk about massive change).

    Steve makes some great points above. The people are ignorant to their impact. And what about the plastic in the oceans – what does regulating GHG have to do with that. Nothing. What was the output of GHG from the BP spill? Negligible in comparison to loss of wildlife and habitat.

    We need to get GHG under control – but we also need a revolution of innovation and we as environmentalists need to see beyond carbon and recognize that it will not solve all our issues.

    The other challenge with GHG is that the average Joe doesn’t get it. I have talked to lots of carbon offset companies that want to integrate into our business and I always ask for the same thing. Stop by the office and bring a ton of carbon with you so I can show my people what it is we are fighting. Now we both know it exists but it is like God, some people get it others don’t.

    One of my mentors once told me if you create a product you want to sell to the masses take it to your local Wal-Mart store and just sit out in the parking lot and watch the people going in and out of the store. Then ask yourself if what you have created would be easily understood by those customers, since, that IS the American consumer.

    Carbon and GHG is a hard sell to those folks – they don’t get it, they can’t see it and it doesn’t affect them so a percentage of them will always be in opposition to it and a much larger percentage will just be plain ignorant (sort of like the God thing).

    What a better approach is with them is to boil the issue down to byte (in intentionally use that word for a reason) size pieces.

    Mr Wal-Mart customer –
    Do you believe that environmentalists are wack-jobs? Yes
    Is global warming real – heck no!

    Do you want pollution in your fishing stream? How about that area you camp in, can we cut down those trees? Do you mind if I have your child drink this chemical concoction? Poison your food? Give your kid asthma? Kill off the all the wildlife on your property? Dump garbage in your front yard? Put a nuclear plant in your back? Power lines over your kids school?

    We all know the answers to these – no, no, no!

    At the micro level we all want the same thing, we as environmentalists (and more importantly those of us who are entrepreneurs) must harness that collective ideology of wanting better for ourselves and our children and channel it into action on a global scale.

    Today we are fatter, save less and are sicker than ever before. This is massive change. We now just need to find a way to adjust attitudes and behaviors for the global good instead of our demise.

    great debate!
    Derrick

  16. Derrick,

    I never claimed that the capping of GHG is the be all end all solution. I merely stated that it is the top concern on my personal list. And by the way, capping CO2 would in fact directly impact mountain top coal mining.

    I am acutely aware of the changes that are occurring around sustainability globally. And I am encouraged by them.

    But, for example, merely publishing a CSR report does next to nothing. Celebrating the proliferation of those reports is like celebrating the 1964 Surgeon General determination that smoking was bad for your health. Did that stop cigarette makers from advertising the stuff, selling it, and continuing to make their gigantic profits? No. Only actions – to gradually reduce American tobacco consumption, or to reduce GHG emissions – are effective. And again, note the use of the word “gradual”. Massive change cannot occur overnight, or through some sweeping new mechanism. The real world changes in tiny, incremental steps – period. Why? Because there is always someone on the other side of the debate ready and willing to fight the change. Someone with a financial interest in maintaining the status quo. And who can see no farther than their next paycheck.

    “Today we have GRI and IIRC (International Integrated Reporting Committee) working together with the big four accounting firms to create a global standard for integrated reporting. If they would adopt the idea of czars that are reporting impact on future generations and would require transparency into their findings we would see them in every major company and government overnight.” Well, Derrick, the largest word in that quote is the word “IF”. I for one am not going to hold my breath on that possibility. I suggest you should not, either.

    “This is a pretty big change in less than a few years, Wall Street changing the way they index public companies …”. Again, such changes do next to nothing to actually bring about any reduction in GHG emissions.

    “This is … about being conscious. It is about education. It is about transparency”. See my above comment about how there will always be someone on the other side of the debate. And see your own comments about how the average American consumer doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of AGW. Or about how he/she believes that environmentalists are wack-jobs.

    And I stand fully behind my remarks that the massive changes in some aspects (not every aspect) of our lives that technology has brought to us, are completely dwarfed by the truly massive changes that will be required to effectively address GHG emissions as well as the other monumental environmental challenges facing us. Surfing the web, playing games, online banking and shopping, twitter, etc., etc. – all are mere window dressing in our lives. They change how we interact, sure. But after I surf the web or whatever, I could still climb into my Hummer for a joyride around town (if I owned one), stop off at McDonalds for a quarter pounder of beef (if I ever ate there), return home to my energy inefficient house (if it was inefficient), buy all sorts of environmentally unfriendly products at the supermarket the next day (if I ever chose to), etc., etc. All without being a small sheep farmer in Africa. To change habits like these, that your average American consumer indulges in, will be a hard slog indeed. And that is the sort of massive change that will take decades to achieve. (How many decades elapsed between that 1964 finding and a truly substantive change in American tobacco consumption? Wasn’t it about three decades or so?) Precisely because massive societal change is slow. And many will be fighting to prevent it from ever taking place. And most Americans are too ignorant to really care very much. And too addicted to their lazy lifestyles to make an attempt to change them.

    And really Derrick – are you arguing that the amount of online gaming on Farmville, is any sort of serious argument about the presence of massive change? LOL. Who cares how much time is spent gaming online? How does that amount to a serious metric about how people will change their very lives in order to meet environmental challenges?

    No – the only effective way to implement massive societal changes, that will truly meet our environmental challenges, is by taking one step at a time. Somehow reign in our GHG emissions. Then tackle access to sufficient water. Then plastic in the oceans. Then (fill in some other of your favorite worries here). All done one thing at a time. Because waiting around for some sweeping solution that will tackle all of these problems at once is simply a recipe to sit back and do nothing while Rome burns. You will never achieve that sort of integrated solution in one fell swoop. Tell me one example in all the recorded history of the world where one integrated solution to such a wide set of such tough challenges; was ever conceived, implemented, and brought to a successful conclusion.

    “Today we are fatter, save less and are sicker than ever before. This is massive change”. No, Derrick – it isn’t. It’s proof that Americans have avoided any massive personal lifestyle change that would allow them to be leaner, healthier, and to have fatter bank accounts. It’s the same inertia that is going to make addressing our environmental challenges hard. And that will make our societal responses slow.

  17. Doug,

    I think we can both conclude we will never convince each other of our own positions. LOL

    You make some valid points – change is hard. But just because it is hard doesn’t mean we should avoid it.

    As for CSR, measuring output and setting goals is the first step, how do you know how much weight to lose if you never weigh yourself, or what your EBITDA is without a balance sheet. Getting companies to self report based upon market pressure is a key element in reducing GHG’s.

    Environmental regulation is needed, but we cannot lose sight that whatever we do today it will not be enough. Real change will only come when it comes from the granular level. Look at CSR – companies are doing it and not fighting it (like they are with regulation) because shareholders and the market want it. Actually if you look at rankings like NASDAQ OMX CRD companies are making changes rapidly and reducing their impact quickly in order to increase their relevance on the index (only the top 50 make it) so that they can garner more attention from the market resulting in more investment funds flowing to them.

    If we want more to be done by these companies we can do one of two things – regulate (which they will fight legally) or educate shareholders as a whole and have them demand change.

    Earlier this year Eliot Spitzer wrote, “We own the corporations whose behavior we disdain, yet we fail to use our power to control them. Ownership trumps regulation—or litigation—as a means for controlling corporate behavior.”

    Activists driven agenda’s do make an impact but shareholder driven initiatives change corporate policy.

    There is a limitation to our consumption and regulation will never be enough to curb our appetite, just because we see on the news that American’s are getting fatter or more in debt does nothing to curb our own consumption. Enacting regulation that limits personal consumption of resources, products and output (kids) will be difficult to achieve – so the solution to the granular problem has to come through education, culture change and migration to a mindset of recognizing the limitations of the planet.

    How do we educate a consumer base that claims they have too much on their plate and cares little about personal responsibility and reducing their consumption? We influence them through peer pressure, education and through entrepreneurial acknowledgment and action around new social aggregation points where the masses congregate i.e. social gaming. Here is an article I wrote about the opportunity that social gaming is providing in shifting the way we interact with the world and accomplish tasks. http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/08/how-social-gaming-can-advance-sustainability/

    In reference to changing attitudes and behavior around smoking, 30 years may seem like a long time in terms of a lifetime, but it is a mere blink of an eye in the terms of the history of humanity. If 30 years from now we were able to change American thinking around consumption as much as we did about smoking I would say that is massive successful change!

  18. You’re right, we probably will never convince eath other. But I still maintain that we are in basic agreement about the need for fundamental economic and societal changes.

    You have advocated adopting an overarching perspective that simultaneously addresses all of the major environmental challenges. It seems to me that your strategy relies on a society that exhibits attitudes and behaviors that form an internally consistent and logical response to the large challenges it faces. It appears to be a ‘ground-up’ approach whereby change is driven from the grassroots level. But without that society-wide basic agreement, I fail to see how your strategy, operating in isolation, can possibly work.

    I have focused on the need to address those challenges individually, perhaps because I have less faith than you in the ability of any society to act logically in their own best long-term interests. Instead, I recognize that society is composed of as many individual opinions and perceptions as there are people living within it. Since so many of those perceptions are inconsistent with each other; I see the need to drive changes via individual legal, legislative, and other initiatives. And I don’t want to see any of those initiatives delayed because we start concentrating too much on the overarching perspective. It’s more of a ‘top-down’ approach, whereby society is gradually coaxed into the new paradigm a little bit at a time.

    Change occurs via both mechanisms, operating side-by-side in ways that we’ll probably never understand. The reality is that both avenues need to be vigorously pursued.

  19. Cap and trade is a giant scam. Follow the money. Who really makes out? Look into the cap and trade trading corporations? Who’s running them? It’s a global redistribution of wealth. Take money from the producers and give it to the non-producers. I drive my car in America and I pay some villager in Africa for carbon credits? Give me break.

  20. I suppose, Kevin, that you’re much happier driving your car in America and paying some U.S.-hating regime in the middle east for the gas you use. Or maybe Hugo Chavez. Give all the rest of us a break.

    Cap and trade is not a scam. It does involve a redistribution of wealth – that is the whole point. We will never induce energy use changes unless we redirect the current flows of money that accompany our energy use policies. Paying for carbon emissions is the best way to achieve that – be it via cap and trade, a carbon tax, or some other mechanism. All of which, by the way, involve redistributions of wealth.

    And while we’re at it, let’s also eliminate the massive subsidies that the fossil fuel corporations currently enjoy. Those current subisdies are yet another redistribution of wealth that goes under the radar screens of most folks.

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