Individual Choice and Free Markets Can Protect The Planet

The government will protect the planet as effectively as gasoline puts out a fire. You’ll continue to see a slew of regulations on cars, clean energy, and homes but will they work? Let’s dive into the mind of the average person residing in the United States. Most of us don’t want littered ditches, dying species, or a dependency on oil but what’s going to make us change our ways?

We can see the world come together in things like the Paris Accord but there’s one major issue. There’s no real repercussions if your country fails to meet goals. At a national level, we see the federal and state governments regulating emissions for vehicles, removing straws and plastics bags, and giving subsidies for clean energy options. People are being forced to shop a certain ways and companies are being forced to produce certain standards of products. What’s the big deal with this? Have you ever been forced to do something? Most of us were told to do the dishes as a kid. We threw plates with food all over them in the dishwasher to save time. What happened? The dishes were gross after the wash and your parents were pissed at you. You weren’t told the value of contributing to house chores and instead were just told to do them. 

The act of forcing people to adopt a behavior isn’t successful in the long term. Plus, your progress will  often be limited to the amount  you’re willing to enforce these new laws or support subsidies. However, there’s a better way the government and people could better protect the planet. It doesn’t involve laws, regulations, or forcing people to act a certain way. 

The start is to remove all subsidies for green energy. Why? Subsidies reduce the cost of buying a product artificially.  One, you’re using taxpayer money towards something a person may not support. Two, you’re damaging technological growth because companies aren’t forced to create amazing breakthroughs in technology that cause products to become more affordable. Why would companies work on improving their product’s efficiency if they’re able to competitively sell it because of subsidies? People can receive reduced prices on solar panel systems or electric cars so why improve them if they’re already affordable enough? The government has been providing the competitive advantage you’d normally see from major technological advancements.  Yes, short term we see a lot of people buying solar panels and electrics cars. However, a large portion of green energy adoption is because of these artificially reduced prices which doesn’t come free. Will we just subsidies subpar solar panels till everyone owns one? These items won’t become widely adopted until their prices drops drastically. These price drops only happen when costs of production drop and that’s through technological advancements, large investment groups, and mass purchasing. 

We’re spending around 7 billion per year of green energy subsidies. The total renewable energy production in the United States is at 17.1% of the total produced energy. Let’s go with the dream goal of 100% and grow it at 1% per year. We’re talking the whole country so we won’t see multiple percent growth in too many years. We are looking at potentially $7 billion per year over 83 years. That’s a staggering $581 billion dollars and that’s the tip of the iceberg. We’re not including costs that people and companies face when government forced early adoption of these technologies through laws and regulations. We see California regulating gasoline sold within the state. The gas must meet strict formula and pollution requirements which limit the supply and drastically increase prices relative to other states. We see people in California paying $2.76 on average for gas while more than 40 states are below $2.00. Yes, California has high gas taxes at 47.3 cents but even removed leaves them well above the national average of $2.00. We see these high gas prices costing tax payers billion every year through a forced technological adoption. 

The second way to promote adoption of environmentally friendly technologies is through education. Leaderships 101 in college will teach you to show people why they should adopt something new. If you tell someone to just do something, they’ll say no and you’ll have to force them. The work will be done poorly and you’ll have wasted your time. Instead, we should focus energy on educating people about the environment. Most people never take an environmental biology class unless they attend college. Our own national education system does very little to explain green products and energy to children. State like Illinois make it mandatory to take physical education every year K-12 but you’ll hardly see a child learn about the environment. Why? The government doesn’t truly care about the environment. These laws and proposed taxes to protect the environmental are all ways to control society and increase tax revenues.

The final and most significant way to see the adoption of clean energy would be to reduce taxes. People are able to spend more when they have more money. More people could afford a $35,000 Tesla Model 3 over a $25,000 Honda civic if they had an extra $200 per month in their pocket.  The consumer is the driving force in environmental protection and not the government. Behavior of the masses will decide whether we see the adoption of green technologies or not. It’s time to remove subsides, educate society, and reduce taxes. We’ll see green technology make new break throughs and its usage rate grow among everyone. Still not convinced? When was the last time you saw the news talking about major technological breakthroughs in batteries and solar panels? You haven’t for years because the only talk and work being done is extending government subsidies to artificially reduce prices and choke out technological advancement.   

Chase Renwick

Author: Chase Renwick

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