I've done it. I've solved Climate Change. Well, not really, but unlike the world's bureaucrats that really didn't accomplish much in Copenhagen, I have an idea on what the solution is. Copenhagen was about a bunch of politicians getting together so it looked like they were doing something to slow Climate Change (to be fair, I'm sure most of them really wanted to work it out). But a better strategy for solving Climate Change is one that has been around since America declared its independence in 1776: The Invisible Hand. Adam Smith put forth in The Wealth of Nations that when we act in our own self-interest, society as a whole benefits.
By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.
So why don't we start promoting a Fossil Fuel Reduction strategy (which is composed of Clean Energy, Efficiency, and Conservation); not as the solution to Climate Change, but as a path to greater prosperity for America? And when America acts in its own self interest to get off fossil fuels, we will also be be aiding the climate as a side effect. This is called a win-win solution. International Climate talks don't come back with win-win solutions. They come back with mediocre compromises so at least each country can say, "Well, at least we tried". To the fervent environmentalists who preach about the need for climate action to save the Polar Bears, you're wasting your time. Action will not happen because the average American (you know, the one who has the power to put political parties in office) wants to help a big white bear. Your efforts are admirable, but you're out of touch with mainstream America who is more concerned on ensuring they can send their kids to a good college. But hear me out, all is not lost for the Polar Bear. I'm not asking you to change The Ends, only The Means. Instead of asking America to "Save the Polar Bear", ask America to "Save America by Reducing Fossil Fuel Use", and the Polar Bear is saved as a nice little side-effect. Let's forget about trying to come up with an International Climate treaty. As we learned from Adam Smith, society benefits the most when each country acts in its own self-interest, which is what is always going to happen anyway because the International community doesn't keep politicians in office (and if you don't believe me, please get off your idealistic high-horse). Instead of trying to convince 190 countries - each with their own culture, industry, and goals - that they all need to agree on a solution (we can't even get politicians in our OWN country to agree on what to do about Climate Change), let's show each country that by adopting a Fossil Fuel Reduction strategy and getting off fossil fuel that the country AND the climate will benefit. For the last 100 years, the world has always looked towards America as a leader. Let's show them how a Fossil Fuel Reduction strategy can:
- create tons of jobs
- clean our skies and waters
- increase our GDP while lowering our national debt (selling Clean Energy solutions to the rest of the world while lowering our oil imports)
- keep our citizens secure (by lowering our dependence on petro-dictators)
In Thomas Friedman's post on Dec. 23rd titled The Copenhagen That Matters, he described how Denmark has benefited their own self-interest and the climate by adopting a rigorous Clean Energy strategy:
My fellow Americans, the fact that the recent Copenhagen climate summit was a bust in terms of solving our energy/climate problems doesn’t mean that we can ignore those problems — or that we can ignore how individual countries, like Denmark, have effectively addressed them. With unemployment in Denmark at about 4 percent, compared with our 10 percent, maybe we should at least consider putting a few of its ideas on our table.
Once everyone realizes how a Fossil Fuel Reduction strategy benefits their whole country ALONG WITH THE CLIMATE, the invisible hand will start clapping.