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What should we do about climate change? Show more Show less
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We are in a climate crisis. People and natural systems around the world are feeling the impacts of a warming globe, from more intense heat waves, more intense storms, heavier rainfall, melting sea ice and retreating glaciers, etc, etc. No part of our world is left untouched, and given the current rate of warming, things will only get worse. So what can we do to mitigate global warming?

We should take gradual action to address climate change to avoid disruption Show more Show less

We should act on climate change, but we should be very careful to not disrupt the economy and people's lively hoods and way of life.
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Governments should incentivize going green

Governments should begin offering financial incentives when people take up pro-environmental behaviors. This creates minimal disruption, as people have the choice about whether to carpool, recycle, or install solar panels. As everyone (businesses included) begins switching to greener alternatives, climate change will grind to a halt as our carbon emissions drop.

Context

We know climate change is happening due to the rapid warming of the planet and an influx of extreme weather [1]. We also know that climate change is caused by humans’ greenhouse gas emissions [2]. If we want to continue living on our planet as it is, we must unite to stop climate change, but the question is how. People have been fiercely debating the issue for decades, but coming to a consensus is imperative so as to prevent an environmental disaster.

The Argument

In order not to disrupt the economy and people’s day-to-day lives, our attack on climate change must be gradual. The only way to stop climate change is to significantly reduce and eventually eliminate our use of fossil fuels because of the greenhouse gases they produce[2]. This is most easily done by targeting the transportation and energy sectors. Starting with the energy sector, governments need to begin financially incentivizing households and commercial enterprises switching to renewable energy (i.e. solar or wind). However, this needs to be optional in order not to disrupt people’s lives. Even if not everyone chooses to take advantage of this new tax credit, enough people will take advantage of it so as to still reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the switch to renewable energy, we need to offer energy-efficient lightbulbs for free, and incentivize both carpooling and recycling [3]. The only law that needs to be passed is that car manufacturers must begin phasing out gas-powered cars with electric ones so as to make our transportation system green. The behaviors people adopt during this transition will likely remain extant after the financial incentives end. And by that time, we will have almost entirely made the switch to renewable energy without radical mandates, inconvenience, or economic disruption. This argument assumes that governments have the capital necessary to pay citizens for their efforts to stop global warming. Many governments are currently allotting funds for climate change efforts, and redirecting them to this initiative will offset the cost. There are also international organizations that can contribute. This argument also assumes that people will participate because of the financial incentive. People are generally motivated by money. By rewarding people rather than penalizing them, this program ensures that no one is negatively impacted by this initiative.

Counter arguments

There is no way to stop climate change without disrupting people’s lives. The initiatives required to halt it are enormous in scale, much like a war. Wars disrupt societies greatly. By incentivizing switching to renewable energy, there is no guarantee that enough people will take advantage of the tax credit or grant. The program could have a negligible effect. Companies need to be mandated to switch to only producing renewable energy rather than be paid to do so. Furthermore, this argument does not take into account the actual cost of what it’s proposing. Every government will need significant funds to pay their citizenry. Even if all of the money currently directed towards stopping climate change was redirected towards this initiative, it wouldn’t be sufficient. Finally, this argument entirely overlooks the carbon emissions created by air travel. It needs to be reformed as much as ground transport does[4].

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
  2. https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/votervital/what-to-do-about-climate-change-and-why/
  3. https://climatechange.ucdavis.edu/what-can-i-do/18-simple-things-you-can-do-about-climate-change/
  4. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181102-what-can-i-do-about-climate-change
This page was last edited on Thursday, 10 Sep 2020 at 18:40 UTC

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