Systemic solution to a systemic problem

By Luke Van Der Male | 11/3/14 12:45am

The Cassandras of our doom at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have declared that in 30 years, at this rate, we will breach the two degree celsius limit on “severe” climate change. When that happens, many bad things could happen, but one is far worse than the others: America’s good arable land will go to Canada. If we do nothing, the Canadians win.

Therefore I propose an American solution to an American-led problem (if you don’t count China, which is another American tradition): Put carbon emissions on the same level as everything else in our God-fearing capitalist economy and the same system that got us here can get us out. Or, if that’s a little too 20th century for your tastes, adopt a carbon tax.

Maybe you have friends in Canada. In that case I will tell you that even though Canada will gain the ability to produce food, most people will lose it. In case you didn’t notice, we’re having a hard enough time getting food to people who need it as it is.

But what’s this about a systemic solution, Luke? Well, I have a confession. I don’t understand environmentalists. They talk up these issues as a reason for you to stop taking hot showers, bike to school and make out with a tree or something.

How did we reduce the number of young people smoking and drinking? How did we control acid rain emissions? How did we used to keep our roads in working order? Simple, my young padawan: taxes and emission permits. Take something that lies outside of how a big bad business chooses how much energy to make, like acid rain, and put it inside their realm of concern again by charging them for the right to pollute. In a world that’s obsessed with money and has a 30 year time-bomb in every lightswitch, speak the language of the consumerist and aim for the wallet.

You can’t skim the political part of the Internet without encountering the growing cynicism of the American voter. And while a part of me wants to invite you all in, only the politicians can fix climate change. Politics is hard, I know, but it’s easier than ever to be a single-issue voter with letting you find politicians based on issues rather than rhetoric.

A recent Pew Survey suggests that while most of accept climate change as reality, only about half of us consider it a serious threat. And while I’m confident my Canada argument will change those numbers shortly, the reality is this is the issue of the Millennials. Unlike our current leadership, Millennials will actually be around to regret this stuff, and since we’re young, we’re inherently less invested in the current obsolete system. Besides, the Canadians are already very concerned with climate change, so they’ll never suspect the real reason we’re doing this.

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