Climate Science and Energy Update: 13 Actions Our Governments Must Take

I always have liked the number 13, call me crazy. I know many of you are superstitious about some numbers. My mom was about the number 7. Many buildings today don’t have a 13th floor  because that number is deemed unlucky. But for the North American British colonies, 13 turned out to be the number that first formed the United States of America. That certainly wasn’t unlucky. But I digress because this subject is not about the number, it is about a call to 13 actions.

We have had our fill of climate conferences and government inaction. Each time our governments get together to discuss climate and carbon dioxide, nothing concrete happens.

We get Developing World nations pointing fingers at the Developed World.

“You caused the problem so you have to fix it. Don’t deny us our place in the Sun.”

The Developed World answers back:

“We won’t solve the problem if we all aren’t in this together. Besides we can’t sacrifice our future growth by drastically changing the way we do things today. Just go along with us. We know better.”

Folks, it’s one planet and only 6 of us humans are currently not living on it (see below). They are inhabiting a space station built internationally through cooperative interaction.

The current crew of the International Space Station are the only humans not inhabiting Earth.  The rest of us are down on the surface and need to do more to ensure our planet and our species survive.             Source: NASA

The key is cooperation because the Earth is our ocean liner and lifeboat, all in one, and it’s about time that we all recognized we are on it together.

There’s no escape to another Earth nearby.

We cannot go back in time and reinvent civilization or the Industrial Revolution.

We can’t undo the consequences of colonialism or the excesses of our past greed.

We can’t undo extinctions without some cloning and genetic magic (that’s another story that we have tackled at this blog site).

So what can we do?

We can create solutions to help us all overcome the past because it is a part of our human condition to be problem solvers and it is our behaviour plus our science and technology that  can yield solutions.

Are we at the crossroads?

Are we at the tipping point?

Studies reported in the press in the last few days certainly point ominously to this conclusion.

Have we created a legacy of environmental degradation for our children and our children’s children?

Not if we act. And what action should we be asking of our political leaders?

We need them truly to be leaders. We need them to use carrots (incentives) and sticks (disincentives) to change our behaviour. We need them to do 13 things.

The 13 Actions Our Governments Must Take

  1. Stop thinking about staying in power as your primary objective in governing. I know it’s hard to not pander to those who have put you in positions of authority but you have an obligation to address point 2.
  2. Start thinking and acting about our larger existence, the survival of the species and the biodiversity of companion species on this planet.
  3. Engage in a frank conversation with all citizens about what needs to be done to combat carbon emissions, pollution and our fossil-fuel energy dependence.
  4. Eliminate plastic from packaging and plastic bags to begin to save our oceans from the unintended consequences of our reliance on polymer-based wrappers. If you don’t have an appreciation for the dimensions of this problem and its hazardous consequences for all please read a recent blog about this subject.
  5. Re-purpose how we use coal and other fossil fuels. Instead of burning it find ways to use it that meet more than energy requirements.
  6. When we have to burn coal and fossil fuels as an interim step as we convert to cleaner, reliable, renewable energy, we need to tax it. It is time for a progressive carbon tax, and for cap and trade policies to be instituted globally.
  7. Create a carrot to reward business and individuals for practicing conservation and energy use reduction by tax credits, cash payments or  rebates and make these substantial.
  8. Create a stick by penalizing business and individuals for not doing number 7 and make these substantial.
  9. Create a carrot through tax and fiscal policy for those businesses and citizens that invest in science and technology focused on carbon reduction, energy conservation, waste-to-energy, biomass, solar, wind, wave, geothermal, hydro, storage, nuclear  and others.
  10. Create a stick through progressive penalties to businesses and citizens that don’t do number 9.
  11. Provide a continuous online progress report viewable by all.
  12. Create a carrot in the form of a financial reward for nations who are top performers.
  13. Create a stick for nations who are at the bottom through international policy with disincentives that discourage them from poor performance.

Carbon emissions are increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Phasing out our heavy reliance on fossil fuels will be less disruptive than the economic, social and environmental consequences of climate change.                       Source: NASA/JPL

Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...