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Climate Change Regulation, Research Paper Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1097

Research Paper

Climate change occurs as a result of significant changes in precipitation, wind or temperatures over a long period of time. Unfortunately, most of these changes are triggered by human activity.  Reliable data from NASA indicates a steady increase of Earths surface temperatures since 1900. Records have indicated a 1.2 to 1.41% temperature increase during this period together with unpredictable weather patterns due to changes in factors such as precipitation (Wertz, 1976).

Earths climate and weather is driven by the Sun’s energy. Energy from the sun is absorbed by the Earth and later radiated back to the space. However, the green house gases in the atmosphere absorb most of the energy being radiated back. The absorbed energy is then radiated back on the Earths surface by the atmosphere thereby making the Earths surface warmer. This condition is referred to as the green house effect without which, the Earths surface would be 61°F less warmer making the existence of life to be impossible (Wheeler, 2000).

In the recent times, demand for energy by human beings has gone up due to increased population. This has consequently resulted in increased burning of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, gasoline and coal to power factories, appliances, cars and utilities. All these forms of energy contain methane and carbon dioxide which naturally enhance the green house effect leading to progressive increase in Earths temperature and subsequent changes in climate.

Contrasting Viewpoints

There are various classes of skeptics to the issue of climate change.  Their views on climate change vary depending on their level of acceptance of science based consensus. The extreme skeptics refute the whole scientific evidence and cite the existence of a conspiracy to attribute humans as the sole cause of the fabricated climate change notion. Skeptics who are moderate accept the evidence but deny the involvement of humans as major contributors of climate change. Others dispute the inconsistencies that exist in scientific evidence.

Climate scientists hardly give any contradictory views in regard to the scientific case on climate change. Such views frequently come from scientists affiliated to different disciplines, from media or non-scientists. However, the idea of increase in concentration of Co2 in the atmosphere has been received positively by all sides due to the ease with which that fact can be proven. This leads as to suspect humans as the cause of changes in climate probably because Co2 gases and others occur as a result of human activity.

Burning substances containing carbon such as carbon fuels in air will form carbon oxides i.e. Co and Co2. These oxides can also be emitted by volcanoes. Co2 is released by the respiration process and absorbed through photosynthesis. These factors tend to strike a balance in the overall concentration of Co2. This issue raises questions about human involvement in the increase of green house gases in the atmosphere.

Most scientists acknowledge that both atmospheric and climate concentrations changed slowly but considerably in the geological past. Some presume that changes occurring in the last hundred years could as well be natural. The advocates of this theory fail to explain where all the Co2 originating from human activities has gone. Again no cause is given for the climate changes occurring rapidly due to increase in Co2 concentrations in the last hundred years.

Another view considers climate change as a natural occurrence since temperatures and Co2 concentrations are considered to have varied on Earth. During the glacial periods, the Earth was very cold and during the Pliocene it is thought that the Earth was probably warmer than it is today. Also, evidence is their showing variance in concentrations of Co2 which was once higher in comparison to the present time.

Another view suggests that Co2 is natural and is an important part of life. Photosynthesis has Co2 as its central component. These facts are used to suggest that concentration of Co2 in the atmosphere is harmless. However, the adage, too much of something is harmless is sufficient to settle disputes arising from this notion.

Another view indicates that since C02 is natural and beneficial, it is unlikely to be a pollutant. Photosynthesis is stimulated by high concentrations of carbon dioxide provided factors such as various nutrients, nitrogen and water are constant. Increase of Co2 is contained by photosynthesis; however, accelerated increase in Co2 concentration through the use of fossil fuels is sure to overwhelm the natural mechanism which will doubtless leave out some proportions of the gas unabsorbed. This will mean that, over time, such proportions will absorb heat radiated by the Earths surface resulting in increased warming (Wertz, 1976).

Needless to say, there are countless views out there that are not discussed here. The contradicting views no doubt leave the reader with the desire to establish the actual viewpoint that lays bare the facts concerning climate change (Wheeler, 2000). Facts are simple to establish and the truth they expose is only concealed by the ignorant or people with ulterior motives. Climate change is a fact and it needs to be addressed fast enough before its effects become irreversible to the detriment of human civilization.

The government can take astute measures by using command and control regulations or incentive based regulations. Command and control regulations involve the use of instruments such as taxes to discourage the emission of green house gases by firms. They can include, taxing carbon due to industry use, transport on roads, aviation taxes, taxes on waste management and any other environmental taxes and policies.

The advantage of command and control is that it discourages firms from unnecessarily emitting green house gases. The disadvantage of this is that tax curtails raising of revenue resulting into social ills such as unemployment and so on.

Incentive based regulations encourage firms to reduce the amount of green house gases that they emit. Examples include tradable permits which sets a maximum of emission after which a polluting company is supposed to pay for the goal. A polluter who is able to contain his emissions has the incentive of selling their extra emission allowances or are able to avoid purchasing the allowances. This has the advantage of being able to reduce emissions at a lower cost compared to command and control approach.

If I was in the federal government, I would go for incentive based approach because it can set targets for emissions at a lower cost than command based approach since it offers the polluters with the choice of determining how to contain pollution.

 

References

Wertz, K.L. (1976), “Economic Factors Influencing Households’ Production of Refuse”, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 2:263-72.

Wheeler, D. et al. (2000), Greening Industry: New Roles for Communities, Markets and Governments , NY:Oxford UniversityPress for the World Bank.

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