Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stemming Global Warming: the great modern debate

The concern over global warming has created opposing camps of debates regarding what is best to do for American Economy and people. The economist and climatologist have opposing view on one hand with respect to how best to curb carbon dioxide emission and hence global warming; on the other hand, chemists and environmentalist are having their opposing position on what the data is saying regarding global warming.

According to some economists, if the objective in resource use is to achieve economic efficiency, a carbon tax is probably the best solution to stemming global warming. It is essential to make industries and people take into account their behavior to pollute or not pollute, by evaluating the financial consequences of their behavior. The extent to which a carbon tax is able to impact behavior however, depends on the elasticity of demand and supply of a pollutant. If the demand elasticity to pollute reaches zero, a factor that is improbable, it may be possible to control carbon pollution, hence, global warming. Climatologist, in the caliber of William Vaughn and Diane Douglas, maintain that the cause of global warming is due to the sun’s effect on the earth as it moves about its orbit and not from carbon dioxide pollution. Thus, the argument to control global warming through policy instrument to control carbon dioxide emission from people’s or industries’ activities is not scientifically justifiable.

Atmospheric Chemist Steven Japar and Chemist Mark Campbell pointed out that the earth’s temperature is not as venerably hot as many critics would want us to believe. Japar who has done extensive research in the areas of air pollution, atmospheric chemistry and vehicle emissions, indicated that climatic model prediction shows a non-existent hot zone in the atmosphere. Campbell supported Japar argument by indicating that the sky is not burning and any claim by global warming proponents to this fact, ignores data that indicate otherwise. In fact, the truth of the matter is that oceanic temperatures are actually falling and sea ice recovery has been at a faster rate than anticipated. There is no observational evidence that increases in greenhouse gas emissions have caused extensive fluctuation in atmospheric temperature. Environmentalists maintain that the position that the earth’s temperature is not warmer, that carbon emission pollution is not driving global warming or that, there is more evidence to support solar cycle as the main driver of global warming is a fluke. Environmentalists further maintain that factories and human activities are loading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide waste and that unless we put in place corrective actions to reverse the trend, the earth and its inhabitants stand to loose from the repercussions of indecision or shortsightedness regarding global warming.

While the debates rage on, I will like to err on the side of economists who have proposed caps and tax program to control emission levels of any gas, carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases that impact the health status and/or the environment. Unless however, we can guarantee an elasticity of demand of zero for the culprit of global warming, it may be impossible to attain the utopia of a perfect environmental stability. While the Caps and Tax program may not be a panacea solution to all the problems of global warming, it is a worthy alternative or tentative option, to be able to preempt possible repercussion of erratic atmospheric temperature and probably global warming.
Post a Comment