Global Warming 101: Solutions

by William Yeatman on February 4, 2009

in Global Warming 101

Global warming may or may not be a problem.  Man may or may not be driving it.  Given the uncertainties, a significant amount of global regret may apply if we divert too much of our global wealth to solving what may be a non-existent or trivial problem, especially if that diversion mires billions in poverty.  On the other hand, we may also regret not doing anything if man-made global warming does turn out to be a problem.  It is therefore prudent to examine what steps we can take that would prove beneficial whether or not anthropogenic global warming turns out to be a problem.  These steps can be termed “no regrets” policies.

What makes a No Regrets Global Warming Policy?  A global warming policy can be termed “no regrets” as long as it:

  • Reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, or
  • Mitigates, prevents or reduces a harm associated with global warming, or
  • Provides greater capacity for dealing with problems associated with global warming
  • Without imposing significant cost or diverting economic activity.

Top Five “No Regrets” Policies

1.)  Eliminate all subsidies to fuel use.
Subsidies to energy R&D cost taxpayers millions of dollars while producing minimal benefits. While these programs may be relatively small given the size of domestic energy markets, they serve little, if any, useful purpose while subsidizing large corporations at taxpayer expense. The potential threat of global warming, whether it is real or not, is simply one more reason to eliminate these subsidy programs. An international agreement aimed at ending energy subsidy with binding targets would be a significant victory for emissions reduction.  Unlike Kyoto, which forces an energy starvation diet on its participants, such a treaty would be a move to combat energy obesity.

2.)  Repeal the Federal Flood Insurance Program.
Much of the concern over global warming’s potential for harm in the US relates to sea level rise and the flooding that will result.  However, much of the investment in potentially vulnerable areas is a result of the Federal flood Insurance Program.  This program encourages building in vulnerable areas by acting as a moral hazard: people take greater risks because the government has said it will help bear that risk. Reform would reduce the moral hazard connected with building on vulnerable land, transferring the risk from the taxpayer to the private sector, which is likely to take a more realistic view of the issue.

3.)  Reform Air Traffic Control Systems.
Greater demand for air travel means more flights, which means greater fuel use and increased emissions. Yet, the current government-operated system of air traffic control, based on a 1920s-era system of beacons, may hinder innovations that could reduce fuel use and emissions. As a general rule, the shorter the flight, the less fuel will be consumed. Yet neither airlines nor pilots have the freedom to choose the most direct and economical route. Giving pilots freedom to map their own course is an attractive and desirable change in the eyes of the industry, and the impact on the environment would be tremendous. As well as saving considerable amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, the policy will deliver significant benefits in terms of time and expense to the US economy.  By obviating significant reductions in service levels associated with more routine applications of emissions reduction policy, it is to be preferred to that approach.

4.)  Facilitate Electricity Competition.
By rejecting the model of central regulation and allowing suppliers to meet their customers’ needs more exactly while relying on distributed generation, energy waste and the associated emissions will reduce considerably.  This reduction in waste will prove economically beneficial even if emissions themselves do not cause problems.

5.) Reduce Regulatory Barriers to New Nuclear Build.
There is no other technology than nuclear that is proven to be capable of providing emissions-free energy at the scale required to make significant reductions in carbon emissions.  The problem is that thanks to anti-nuclear activism by environmentalists in the 1970s, it takes a very long time to build a nuclear plant.  This pushes development and construction costs up to the level where it is not economically competitive with higher-emitting forms of electricity generation like coal and natural gas.  According to the nuclear energy institute, it takes 10 years from concept to operation to build a nuclear plant, and only four of those are construction, the rest is permit application development (2 years) and decision-making by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (4 years).

Ali February 10, 2009 at 7:03 am

This is a gd help dont take his comment (the last one) in mind but u should put more solutions even with cicumstnces

Fighting Spirit February 11, 2009 at 12:56 am

Many people are too eager to find a problem here where there may not even be one. There is no complete agreement among scientists on this. I look all over the internet and see many saying that the earth is warming, while many others say it is cooling. Yet people work themselves up into a panic and demand that governments "do something," while governments look at this, wring their hands, and say "Oh, goodie, what freedoms oftheirs can we take away next? How much more can we raise taxes?" We need to come to a definite scientific conclusion before we take drastic measures.

dudly do right February 11, 2009 at 4:12 am

i don`t like conceptions of nuclear power anyway , i agree lets just apply without regulation. lets remove flood insurance, stop research and devolpment and pray.

asdf February 11, 2009 at 10:13 am

this article was no help in my reaserch it is not worth to be on this website

Suad February 13, 2009 at 12:29 am

It must be a global warming… it is simple.. if you put ice in cold water.. it cant be warmer…

r j patel February 15, 2009 at 6:53 am

i believe that the big plantation drive must be taken by school children ,teachers,ngos ,religious institutions and the each individuals not depending only on goverment,as we have started "vrukshnarayan katha" with the blessing of the GODESS AMBAJI..from the "arasuri ambaji devshan trust",,,,ambaji gujarat.india.

we give messege of massive plantation to every one who visits the temple.

Alabama Roadrunner February 15, 2009 at 2:00 pm

You have presented some sound ideas in ways to improve the situation. Corporate welfare elimination is a great place to start. Additionally, enen in using fossil fuels, how much more productive could new facilities be? The anti-everything crowd needs to wake up and realize that we are in a give-and-take situation, and you cannot find fault with every form of energy production.

sunsettommy February 16, 2009 at 7:38 am

I thought the blog article was a simple way to highlight the ways that we can do better with what we have.

I also think that environmentalists are stupidly anti-nuclear.They were wrong 30 years ago and they are still stuck on stupid today.

We can do a lot to improve on energy consumption without hurting the use of it for various pursuits.

Malthus February 19, 2009 at 1:48 pm

The giant elephant, or should I say baby, in the room here is population control.

If we want to control global warming we need to reduce the world population.

This means education, free contraceptives, and pensions, for the majority of the world population.

First world nations are already by and large not growing organically, and, absent immigration, are already shrinking. The issue is to enable the rest of the world to feel secure enough not to need or want lots of kids.

Reducing the number of people is a lot more efficient than reducing the carbon footprint per person.

This is hardly an original idea. It has been stated many times by prominent scientists, but for whatever reason seems to be ignored.

Case in point is the list above. Population reduction would do more for the planet than all of the above solutions combined.

To Save The Planet

Stop Having Babies!

wilson February 20, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I Really enjoyed reading your article, as a matter of fact I find very usefull any kind of argument about this issue. Since the Industrial Revolution we humans have brought to our planet our concept of good living, It has in fact been too good for us but not for our planet. Unless we chance our moral values we some day will destroy our own home.

scott February 23, 2009 at 7:36 am


Jessica March 4, 2009 at 3:54 am

Please explain to me then how global temps were even higher in the dinosaur days and they obviously didnt have a bigger carbon footprint than we do! explain that!

harshil March 6, 2011 at 2:10 am

very gd points

naomi March 12, 2011 at 7:34 am

gd points

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