Is It Too Late To Stem A Worldwide Outbreak Of Rational Governance?

h.koppdelaney/CC BY 2.0
"Victory of Intellect"

Something interesting is going on in Australia. The world's first national carbon tax was just finalized. What makes this especially interesting is that they have an economy highly dependent upon coal exports and coal burning. Even more amazingly - and it will no doubt be attacked from the extreme left as well as the extreme right - is that Australian parents must now, by law, either demonstrate that their children get properly immunized or risk losing tax deductions. Contrast this with the USA where the entire Republican Party denies climate change exists and where 5% of children are missing critical vaccinations - either because parents are paranoid about internet rumors or because of extreme left or rightist ideology.

Something is rational in Denmark.
Reuters reported Friday that the "Danish government proposals on Friday called for sourcing just over half of its electricity from wind turbines by 2020 and all of its energy from renewable sources in 2050. The [Danish] government also invited the parties in parliament to negotiations on the proposal to shape energy policy to 2020." Notably, the plans include replacing coal heating with biomass and other heat sources. heating, Coal currently makes up 11 percent of the total heat supply in Denmark.

Brian Merchant interviewed a Danish government spokesperson about this proposal last June, before it was finalized. See: Denmark to say 'Goodbye' to Fossil Fuels by 2050 for the background details.

The Danish government and businesses have a decent track record of setting ambitious renewable energy goals and meeting or at least getting close to them - on schedule. This is not some half-baked political scheme in other words.

Bringing it back home.
Adoption of the Australian carbon tax and Danish renewable energy goal ought to be eye openers in the USA. Especially for broadcast media. One reason the US consistently sets such lame renewable energy goals and then fails to meet them is that the carbon lobby has owned Congress for decades and recently has figured out how to successfully control broadcast media and Presidential elections. Are you news directors listening?

Another reason we've made so little progress might be is that we Americans seem lately to prefer a good irrational, anti-intellectual fight over actually looking at risks and managing them confidently. With Fox News as referee.

Perhaps I am pathetically naive in going against the grain of the currently popular "Public Choice Theory." On the other hand, we may be entering an era where looking after the public good by enacting rational regulations experiences a resurgence, as happened with environmental law and regulation making in the 1970's.

Tags: Carbon Neutral | Diseases