This week I have been fascinated to watch the struggles of the managers of the endowment funds of Oxford University and other various learned bodies to deal with the matter of disinvestment of shares in companies that deal in Carbon and it’s related forms such as petroleum products.
Apparently counsel for these huge investment trusts (the Harvard Endowment Fund is one of he largest in the world) believe that by selling their shares in the likes of Exxon and Shell they are making a statement, that hence forth all matters related to the use of carbon are bad, in the sense that Carbon promotes Global warming.
My rant has nothing to do with the efficacy of climate change, or the reasons for a matter that has been going on for twelve thousand years. Much safer to leave this to others more qualified. What concerns me is the way forward and how we choose to deal with this thorny issue. As opposed to theoretics this is a matter that will affect just about everybody on the face of the earth and sooner rather than later.
Whatever we decide, assuming it is ‘we’ turning our back and ignoring the problem is not the answer. In the grand scheme of things the Exxon’s and the Shell’s are not going away any time soon because we need them. Likewise it would be unrealistic to expect these Goliath’s to promote policy that will destroy a business model that has served them well, for so long (the leopard and his spots argument)
As a libertarian I am not in favor of taxes, carbon or otherwise. Experience has shown that taxation to promote social or causes unrelated to the expense of governing do not work. However well-intentioned (Warren Buffet excluded) it is human nature to avoid taxes and to let others do the lifting. Besides taxation is grossly inefficient and only serves to promote more government and more inefficiency.
What is needed is leadership that will change the way we view the problem. Instead of a threat why not a challenge? Instead of a tax why not an incentive? and above all else why not innovation?
The history of the Industrialized world tells us that we ignore innovation at our peril. It took less that fifty years to covert the world to steam and a lot less that this to convert from coal to oil. Then came the turbine or jet engine in less than twenty years, Once the dogs of invention are let loose change driven by human intervention will occur.
I suspect and hope we maybe on the cusp of such refreshing change. The fuel cell and the Tesla Battery are but a glimpse of what will surely follow if we give it a chance.
It is not necessary to throw money at the problem as had been done with wind energy to effect political correctness. A lot less money spent by clever people will produce much better results. Edison did not invent the light bulb because of a tax on candles, although I am sure it was tried. He did it because he was intensely curious and there was an acute need for a new source of light.