Many people would say that global warming or anthropogenic climate change are settled science. They would claim that these are pure fact, cannot be disputed, and anyone who disagrees is a “climate denier.” Let’s put all this aside for a moment. Let’s just assume, hypothetically, that in 150 years the coastal cities will be flooded, Florida will be entirely under water, and the global temperature will be massively increasing. What should we do? What solutions to anthropogenic climate change exist?
One answer, and the most prominent, remains extremely predictable. “We should tax carbon emissions.” Okay, so we obliterate our sources of transportation and power through taxation. How does the United States compete in the world? If the United States cuts carbon emissions, how can we guarantee that other nations will do the same?
Anthropogenic climate change, real or not, cannot be dealt with by seemingly simple solutions such as taxation or bans. Instead of punishing fossil fuels, a solution would be creating a better energy source to supply the market’s needs. We should not subsidize solar, wind, or hydraulic companies just yet. Subsidies create an artificial market that can dangerously collapse, harming both the taxpayer and the industry.
Offer rewards for successful energy creation and create contests. For example, a million dollar or more prize for the greatest energy producing item with the smallest negative environmental impact. College students, small companies, big corporations, and even fossil fuel companies will strive to produce the greatest energy saver for the reward and eventual patent. Private investors will pour money into research once they realize the situation, and the market will boom. These are not subsidies for mass production of solar panels or something similar. They are awards for a singular prototype and do not require a massive investment that might fail. The awards are granted after the creation of a successful prototype, and the creator can sell the rights to, improve, or produce this prototype as they please.
A Nobel Prize is mostly about prestige, but these government sponsored contests and prizes would be more about funding for continuation and improvement on the awarded project. We could even compete with other nations to create the next super efficient energy source to power humankind, and this would have similar results to the space race. As countries strive to figure out the next energy source, technology should eventually expand and explode into the third world; giving poorer countries a chance with greater energy sources.
Government rarely provides a proper answer. There are disagreeing sides on anthropogenic climate change, but a solution to the problem is similar to that of any problem. Incentivize the populace and private industry with reward rather than threaten with punishment, and an exciting new age of technological and cultural advancement will hopefully begin!
Author: James Kurlich
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