Wednesday, September 20, 2006

off topic: how to tackle global warming, by al gore

this past monday, al gore spoke at nyu and proposed a rough outline of how we should tackle global warming. i've taken the liberty to summarize (in some case with quotes with a little further explanation, quotes are in italics) because it is very long and many may not have the time to read it.

obviously i feel this is a very important issue and clearly have a strong opinion on the matter. most importantly, though, is to be informed. and it is in that spirit i share. for the full transcript, click here.

al's ideas on how to address global warming

1. Freeze Co2 emissions and begin sharp reductions.

“An immediate freeze has the virtue of being clear, simple, and easy to understand. It can attract support across partisan lines as a logical starting point for the more difficult work that lies ahead.”

2. Join the rest of the global economy & authorize the trading of emissions within a global cap, aka, sign the Kyoto Treaty.

“At present, the global system for carbon emissions trading is embodied in the Kyoto Treaty. It drives reductions in CO2 and helps many countries that are a part of the treaty to find the most efficient ways to meet their targets for reductions. It is true that not all countries are yet on track to meet their targets, but the first targets don’t have to be met until 2008 and the largest and most important reductions typically take longer than the near term in any case.

The absence of the United States from the treaty means that 25% of the world economy is now missing. It is like filling a bucket with a large hole in the bottom. When the United States eventually joins the rest of the world community in making this system operate well, the global market for carbon emissions will become a highly efficient closed system and every corporate board of directors on earth will have a fiduciary duty to manage and reduce CO2 emissions in order to protect shareholder value.”

3. Take a multi-solution approach vs. looking for the “silver bullet” that will “fix” global warming. Increased efficiency, decreased dependency on oil and improved environmental policies including:

• dramatic improvements in the efficiency with which we generate, transport and use energy while offering incentives for eliminating polition and becoming more efficient

• develop ways to distribute electricity and liquid fuels so that we are less dependant on coal-fired generating plants, oil ports, refineries, etc.

• require and assist the American auto industry to move towards flex-fuel, plug-in, hybrid vehicles.

• better forest management

• more efficient use of natural energies such as wind and solar power

• utilizing new architecture and design techniques to work towards carbon-neutral buildings (buildings represent a larger source of global warming pollution than cars & trucks)

• capturing the carbon released by coal-burning (one of the dirtiest sources of energy, it produces far more CO2 for each unit of energy output than oil or gas).

4. Replace the revenue generated by the payroll tax with a pollution tax – principally on CO2

“The overall level of taxation would remain exactly the same. It would be, in other words, a revenue neutral tax swap. But, instead of discouraging businesses from hiring more employees, it would discourage business from producing more pollution.

At present, when business has to pay more taxes in order to hire more people, it is discouraged from hiring more people. If we change that and discourage them from creating more pollution they will reduce their pollution. Our market economy can help us solve this problem if we send it the right signals and tell ourselves the truth about the economic impact of pollution.”

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