May 9, 2019
Let me start with the big picture. The Paris Agreement set a very high goal of reducing carbon emission. Some scholars proposed adopting a global carbon tax to aid the reduction process (Crattini et al. 2019). They suggest redistributing the revenue to citizens to win public support. However, we see this plan as something that will never work out.
Because the main idea here is still asking “polluting industries” to curb emission all by themselves, to compete with each other, to win or to lose in this “great game”. If we think of the globe as a big industry (or family), the energy industry is just doing their job to support other sectors (family members). What people are doing now is simply using economic measures to force the energy industry to completely replace fossil fuels in a very short time scale. We do not care if some people (countries) will lose their jobs or not; we assume some eager competitors will seek opportunities to rise in this game, and reach our ultimate goal: net-zero carbon emission.
This strategy did not really work for regular environmental pollution problems, not completely. We know the fact is that some countries got clean air while pollution problems are transferred to other areas … If we think we can automize everything and put our heavy polluting industries to some deserts, we reach a solution by then. However, CO2 is transported everywhere, thus moving the emission sources spatially does not help anyone, not really.
People put their hope on those eager newcomers in the energy industry. On the one hand, their promises cannot really be trusted. If you look at the documentation about the “Great Leap Forward” in China around 1960, you will find out what kind of lies people are willing to tell when they are under great public pressure and economic temptation. On the other, quite a few nations around the world rely on the traditional energy industries (petroleum, natural gas, shale gas, coal, etc.) What will they do if some of their citizen, if not all, lose their jobs? They will have to move to other industries or countries, introducing competition, if not conflicts, to their new places of living.
I am timid to mention the word “war”, but it is just a fact that if we (anyone not working in the traditional energy industry) keep treating our industrial partners (family members) so harshly, the probability to have some regional, or even global-scale, wars, is obviously high.
Thus we suggest people in every corner of the earth work together to face the global warming problem. Instead of reprimanding traditional energy industries (our family members), why don’t we collaborate with and support them?
Surveys have already shown that the public supports the idea of the global carbon tax if it is used to mitigate global warming (the same paper, Crattini et al. 2019). If we want to avoid destabilizing the global society and maintain our current economic thrust, the best strategy is to keep every other part of the global industry fixed while replacing the broken part, the traditional energy industry — that is, pumping revenue from the global carbon tax to the traditional energy industry directly and make them rejuvenate.
This sounds a bit like the old Soviet-type economic planning (STP). STP has a lot of disadvantages. However, one of its major advantages is to reduce the unemployment rate. Unemployment may be tolerable for one country, but if unemployment happens at a global scale, can we really bear it? Actually, despite all kinds of critics, the GDP of the former Soviet Unit was $2.7 trillion in 1989. It made the Soviet Union the second largest economy by that time (the first was the USA, which had a GDP of $5.6 trillion in 1989). The former Soviet Union also contributed tremendously to the development of science and technology of the human world, which is a fact that cannot be denied by anyone. There must be some advantages in the STP approach, otherwise, the tremendous economy and science contribution of the Soviet Union to the world cannot be explained.
Today’s world is interconnected by global trades and worldwide waves of immigration. Some of us are “weakly” connected by economic activities, but for others, the connection across continents is deep in our blood. Today’s global economy is filled with Darwinism. Yes, competition helps people contain their greediness in business and helps humankind as a whole to achieve more in the technology field. But as a whole, what other species are we trying to compete with? Aliens? Do we really have to treat each other so harshly to advance human history?
Global warming is a challenge to all of us. We do not really have more time to argue and compete. The psychological nature of human competition is not very different from that of dog play. Puppies appear to be wrestling with each other on the surface while they play, but we know they are just having fun underneath. They do lose their temper occasionally (and we all know the human counterpart of this), but most of the time, a fight without hurting each other is a good and fun play. Yet, after all, a play is a play, we don’t have time for that kind of fun.
STP sounds scary for some of us on this planet. But this seems to to be the only acceptable option for us for now and a foreseeable future. And, since we have run this exercise once (actually more than once …) in human history, we wouldn’t repeat the same kind of mistakes anymore, would we?
©2019 by William@UnitedMinds. Article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution(CC BY-ND) license. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
This is an article we are working towards formal publication. If you have serious comments about it, please send an email to william ‘at’ unitedminds ‘dot’ net.