Visionary Climate Change

by | Jan 13, 2010 | Uncategorized

Recently, I have been reading a book called Crowdsourcing by Jeff Howe in which I came across this quote, “To build a new system, you don’t compete with the old one, you build a new system that makes the old one obsolete.” which resonated with me. Perhaps it resonates with me for I long for change in so many areas – from politics to the aid industry to religion to myself.

Global Dashboard (www.globaldashboard.org) made reference to Bono’s opEd in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/opinion/03bono.html) in which he talks about ideas around climate change among other things. He makes the following comment:

One smart suggestion I’ve heard, sort of a riff on cap-and-trade, is that each person has an equal right to pollute and that there might somehow be a way to monetize this. By this accounting, your average Ethiopian can sell her underpolluting ways (people in Ethiopia emit about 0.1 ton of carbon a year) to the average American (about 20 tons a year) and use the proceeds to deal with the effects of climate change (like drought), educate her kids and send them to university. (Trust in capitalism — we’ll find a way.) As a mild green, I like the idea, though it’s controversial in militant, khaki-green quarters. And yes, real economists would prefer to tax carbon at the source, but so far the political will is not there. If it were me, I’d close the deal before the rising nations want it backdated

Perhaps he is onto something, perhaps he is not. But frankly, this is certainly a bit more radical than most things I hear us talking about. While all the big theories go around and around, while we all point the fingers at those big bad corporations or government (depending on your flavour) and while many religious nuts say it’s all going to burn anyways so let’s help it along, potentially we need to talk about what we can do. Yes, there is lots of adverts going on about changing lightbulbs, eating less meat, the cars we drive, and so on, but what would happen if we needed to pay for our right to pollute? Or better yet, what would happen if we had to buy our right to pollute by paying someone in Ethiopia or Nepal – how would that change our lifestyle? how would it change theirs?

There are lots of issues with the idea, but before you nail it to a cross, perhaps give it a chance to percolate ideas of your own that don’t just tweak the current system, but make the current one irrelevant.

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