24 March 2008

We Own The Air, Let's Protect It

Here's a quote from a new Rockridge Institute Report on climate change policy:

A key idea advanced by Cap and Dividend [one of two proposals considered in this report] is that keeping our air clean is good for the economy. The costs of environmental harm already exist. They have just been excluded from the accounting. Polluting companies have been free-riders and are not paying the full cost of doing business. Now those costs are being borne by people the world over. Global warming is a market failure – because a vital cost has been left out!
Comparing Climate Proposals: A Case Study in Cognitive Policy

In contrast to:

Lieberman-Warner [the other proposal] expresses the idea of private wealth, where wealth is (1) money accumulated by corporations and their investors; (2) "created" through resource extraction and labor; and (3) owned by whomever controls it. People are thought of as actors who seek to maximize their profit. It follows that the financial implications of a policy are considered primarily with respect to industry – where assets are controlled. It is industry that is seen as creating wealth through the process of production. Wealth created by industry will "trickle down" to the people. There is no need to protect the common wealth – shared resources of general benefit to society – because there is no concept for common wealth in the proposal. The central consideration is protecting the profits of corporations—especially those who make those profits via polluting.
Comparing Climate Proposals: A Case Study in Cognitive Policy

I recommend reading this report.

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