Sunday, June 11, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I saw “An Inconvenient Truth” a few days ago. I liked it. I did have some minor issues with it from a film stand point, and I wished he would have made some of his points a little more clear and a little less bombastic, but I imagine it is like all things in life: a balance.

The main thing I was disappointed about was never talked about policy options and this left may of the viewers a little in the dark about what to do.

I saw the film at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck, NY. After the film there was two scientists from Bard College’s Bard Center for Economic Policy taking questions about the movie. One was a climatologist and the other was an atmospheric chemist. Want to guess what around 50% of questions were? That’s right, policy. Not just policy but the “what can I do to help.” Type questions with the typical answers we’ve been hearing since the 80’s.

I recycle because I like to. I drive a sports car because I like to. I use an AC unit because I can not stand the heat. After such a clear and powerful message as the one showed in “An Inconvenient Truth” I can think of no bigger waste of time then to tell people to recycle. If people don’t have the recycling message by now, after 20 years of hearing it, they aren’t going to get it. People respond to incentives. Carbon emissions? People respond to incentives. The one or two people driving around in their hybrids is great, but it is a teeny tiny drop a very big bucket.

The point is not that people shouldn’t drive that Hummer. The point is that people should pay for the right to drive that hummer and that hybrid and that motorcycle.

It makes me cringe every time I hear someone talking about a subsidy program for hybrids. No. Hybrids are filtered cigarettes. People should pay into some kind of trust every “cycle” based on their carbon emissions. We can set this price ourselves and let the markets figure it out. This “rent” then should be redistributed to all people, either in the form of a citizens dividend or to pay for other government expenses.

Classic Tragedy of the Commons problem

I’ll add some more on this topic later. I believe most blog posts should be able to be read in around 2 minutes.