Monday, December 1, 2008

From Each According to his Responsibility

According to a report by Roger Harrabin, Environment Analyst for BBC News, the United Kingdom is trying to take more drastic measures where the emissions of greenhouse gases are concerned:

Official advisers to the UK government have demanded Britain slash greenhouse gases by a fifth of current levels by 2020 - the toughest target so far.

The Committee on Climate Change said a cut of 21% on 2005 levels was needed for the UK to play its fair share in combating dangerous change.

It proposes firm carbon budgets for the next three five-year periods.

These are ambitious and laudable goals. What will it take to achieve them? Having just taken on the question of fee-for-service models in health care, I am wondering whether or not it would be possible to develop a "fee-for-consequences" model where climate control is concerned. After all, Europe may now be facing a major consequence of global warming in the current flooding of Venice. No matter how you look at it, this is going to be a serious mess; and cleaning up after it is going to be a major problem with major expenses. Who will foot the bill for those expenses? An economic model in which those responsible for global warming would bear the cost of paying for resulting disasters might provide the right kind of incentive to reduce those emissions. This would be a model for the redistribution of wealth that Karl Marx had not anticipated in his "Critique of the Gotha Program." Rather than taking "From each according to his abilities," take from those causing the mess according to their contribution to it!

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