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Climate Change Dilemma Denied by City Tech Blogger Jonathan Chen

Understanding the mode in which climate change is harming the earth is not enough to stop the damage, especially with current infrastructure and demands. Slowing global warming is not as simple as stopping the processes that cause carbon emissions (i.e. power generation). While this would probably lower global temperatures, there is a social cost in doing so. Accepting that climate change is anthropogenic would mean that there must be some overhaul in society and industry which currently might not be feasible. Proper implementation of climate science-based policies is necessary to achieve global temperature goals and to have society wean off carbon-intensive energy.

One of the largest drivers of climate science denial is politics, according to John Cook in his article “Countering Climate Science Denial and Communicating Scientific Consensus”. Cook cites another study (by Tranter & Booth, 2015) that shows people across countries with conservative affiliations are consistently more skeptical of climate science. However, their contention is with its implementation. Conservative values seem to align with liberty, small government, and less government regulation. Cook cites another experiment that sought to show a causal link between cultural values and climate change mitigation. Politically conservative people were presented with possible mitigation strategies for climate change which included government regulation like carbon taxing or increasing use of nuclear energy. The nuclear energy option had a wider acceptance and had a positive effect on climate science reception whereas the regulation option reduced acceptance of climate science. It can be assumed, then, that substituting nuclear energy with even cleaner energy like solar or wind will be accepted by such climate science detractors as well, provided. An approach with less over-bearing government intervention would seem to be met with less resistance.

A common measure against emissions is the carbon tax, which is levying an extra cost on the consumption of hydrocarbon fuels. Usually, it is the average consumer that suffers the most from such taxes, especially those from rural communities.  Businesses reliant on fossil fuels will offset this cost onto the end-user by increasing the prices of goods and services, or offset this cost on their labor force via layoffs or decreased wages. According to a study by Marisa Beck et al., it shows that carbon taxes do disproportionately affect rural denizens not only because of the lack of public transportation but because of the reliance of fossil fuels for industry (the exact goal of their study was to show that some specific compensation for rural citizens of British Columbia was excessive, but that is irrelevant). It is assumed that the increased costs for carbon-emitting fuel will incentivize investment in alternative energy, but for those who are lower income or working class, this might be difficult to do. This is the catalyst that sparked the “yellow vests’” protests against carbon taxing without adequate cost-mitigation despite their worsening living conditions. This might be an example of a climate-science policy incorrectly implemented.

 

 

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