An Overview of the Issues & Solutions
Climate change is a complex comparison of many different geological, atmospheric, and ecological sources. Often the viewpoint of climate change is distilled into an oversimplification of global warming. Global warming is mostly understood in lay terms as the warming of the earth due to the overproduction of greenhouse gasses. In reality, climate change is, “a measure of changes in the statistical properties of the climate system when considered over periods of decades or longer, regardless of cause.”
There are three main views pertaining to climate change; global warming, solar irradiance, and natural cycles of the atmosphere. Global warming is the viewpoint that human influences have and are altering the atmosphere by raising the temperature of the planet. This viewpoint is the most widely accepted view from scientists around the world who believe that the release of large amounts of CO2 and Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) (amongst other gasses are creating a greenhouse effect. The effect of global warming is not completely known. While some sources such as environmental groups like Greenpeace, predict catastrophe, groups like NASA admit that the implications of global warming are not well known (NASA, 2011).
The other view of climate change pertains to solar irradiance. The sun has affected the earth’s weather in the past and solar output has increased in the last hundred years. Because the sun is so intricately tied to the earth’s weather and tidal forces, it is only natural to assume that solar activity can have profound effect on the earth’s temperature. However, the alterations in solar output for the last hundred years have been determined ineffectual with regard to changing the earth’s temperature (NASA, 2011).
There are some who argue that global warming is not a valid theory. This viewpoint is difficult to define as it includes many different individuals ranging from conspiracy theorists to scientists who simply claim that global warming is more political in nature than scientific. Global warming is however accepted as the reason for climate change by most scientists throughout the world.
Most people agree that climate change is being affected by global warming; however, most disagree on the effects of global warming or the timetables given for some of the predicted events. Global warming as presented by Al Gore in “An Inconvenient Truth” seems more politically motivated as it tries to garner support for the Democratic Party by using the fear of global warming. The movie is filled with catastrophic predictions which one must question where Gore received his information from considering that NASA and many other scientists cannot give an accurate prediction of climate change events. NASA candidly states:
“The consequences of changing the natural atmospheric greenhouse are difficult to predict, but certain effects seem likely:
· On average, Earth will become warmer. Some regions may welcome warmer temperatures, but others may not.
· Warmer conditions will probably lead to more evaporation and precipitation overall, but individual regions will vary, some becoming wetter and others dryer.
· A stronger greenhouse effect will warm the oceans and partially melt glaciers and other ice, increasing sea level. Ocean water also will expand if it warms, contributing further to sea level rise.
· Meanwhile, some crops and other plants may respond favorably to increased atmospheric CO2, growing more vigorously and using water more efficiently. At the same time, higher temperatures and shifting climate patterns may change the areas where crops grow best and affect the makeup of natural plant communities (NASA, 2011).”
It is obvious that the planet is enduring changes and that humans play a large role in this process. Although one might disagree with the effects of global warming and the timetables, the need for change to preserve the environment is indisputable. Since the first environmental laws were passed a debate has grown surrounding the use of command and control regulations versus incentive based regulations. Command and control regulations are government set standards which force industries to comply with environmental standards. A prime example of this would include the Air Quality Standards imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (Harrington and Morgenster, 2004). Companies must limit pollution levels in accordance with these standards or face fines.
The problem with command and control laws is that they are often slow to be implemented and are often costly to taxpayers because they must be monitored and enforced. Many times these laws are challenged and appealed in courts and can become even more costly to taxpayers. As a result incentive based regulations were designed in response to these problems (Harrington and Morgenster, 2004). Incentive based regulations typically promise tax or monetary incentives to companies or individuals who adopt and use environmentally friendly products. For instance, individuals who place solar panels on their home can receive money from the government in order cover the cost of the panels’ installation and purchase. Although economic incentives are less expensive than command and control regulations they are often not as well known to consumers. The disadvantage of economic incentives is that their benefit is normally not realized immediately but instead over time. The cost of solar panels for home can often take seven years to fully realize (Harrington and Morgenster, 2004).
To advocate for the use of command and control regulation over economic incentives lacks critical thinking. There is no one size fits all solution. The efforts of both forms of environmental protection must continue to be used and perhaps should be used in cohesion. For instance, if industry is commanded to reduce emissions it can normally make this regulation work if it is given time to research the problem. California for example has been very successful in reducing ground level ozone (CEA, 2011) by requiring that car companies reduce emissions on vehicles (CA.gov, 2011). Perhaps by adding economic incentives to these regulations this will increase the compliance. Only through continued effort and restructuring of law will the problem of climate change be altered into positive direction.
California Department of Motor Vehicles (2011) Before Buying a Vehicle From Out of State — Be Sure You Can Register It in California FFVR 29 http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffvr29.htm
California Environmental Agency. (2011) Key Events in the History of Air Quality in California http://www.arb.ca.gov/html/brochure/history.htm
National Snow and Ice Data Center, (2011). “Glossary — Climate Change”. Education Center — Arctic Climatology and Meteorology. NSIDC National Snow and Ice Data Center. http://nsidc.org/arcticmet/glossary/climate_change.html
NASA, (2011). Global Climate Change http://climate.nasa.gov/causes/
Harrington, W. and Morgenster, R.D. (2004) Economic Incentives versus Command and Control Berkley Ca. http://envirohealth.berkeley.edu/271E/2007/S24/RFF_Resources_152_ecoincentives.pdf
Vincent Triola. Wed, Jun 09, 2021. Climate Change Regulation Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/climate-change-regulation