Letter to the Editor: Deal with the reality of climate change



The setting sun beats down on a neighborhood just outside downtown on March 24, 2017 in Phoenix, Ariz. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

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Joe Hyde, Economics senior, [email protected]

There is no doubt that the climate is changing and human activity is the primary driver of that change through greenhouse emissions holding heat in the atmosphere.

The problem with the climate change “debate” isn’t the science or corporations and their “greedy” profit seeking—this is an oversimplification of the issue.

In part, skepticism arises from the forecasting of what might be. Will we have acidic oceans and a billion displaced people with a surface temperature so hot we will all be forced into bunkers with Dr. Strangelove, or will we have smaller numbers of the displaced with changed climates that may make us adopt minimal adjustments to the way we must exist?

The fact that many models exist based on scientific consensus leads people to doubt the claim in the first place; the logic tends to be “if everyone is on the same page, why are there so many different outlooks?”

This can be explained when you sit in a room with a climate scientist and ask for an explanation, but how many have that opportunity?

This, coupled with familial obligations to provide, leads to a focus on the here-and-now rather than the distant future, inhibiting political action. Further, the state that can’t agree on the validity of established climate science is looked to as the exclusive savior from the problem.

The ménage-à-trois of industrial interests, political considerations and environmental interests leads to an ever worsening prognosis.

Corporate interests along with activist groups encourage regulation of a particular industry through the state. Once the regulation is granted, a cost is imposed, and ideally we arrive at the optimum quantity of emissions.

This is fantasy; reality is that once costs are imposed, demand doesn’t stop existing and who absorbs costs—consumer or producer—is based on the elasticity of the good.

Entrepreneurs who innovate technologies that make fuel cleaner and cheaper can never get in the industry to innovate in the first place, due to these new costs.

Established competitors are pushed out of markets, and their cleaner or cheaper technologies and goods go with them. As this happens, the largest powers are ever more insulated in their position and still feed demand.

They lose the only mechanism to drive them to change: competition.

Solar and wind energy are substitutes available in the market created by entrepreneurs, not by Congress. The way to solve climate change is by innovating new cost-efficient ways of providing energy; the state can’t do that, only individuals with vision can—so let’s get out of their way.

Someone who invents a cheaper, cleaner energy source to power vehicles will do more to stop greenhouse emissions in a month than the Environmental Protection Agency could do in the length of it’s existence.

Entrepreneurs are the only ones able to do to coal and oil what Henry Ford did to horseback travel.