Action Versus Inaction

Take a pick: limited personal freedom or unlimited CO2 emissions. People are not stupid. The question is when.

Government intervention is always a serious risk factor for business. Its often seen by free-market advocates and liberal folks as dangerous. It kills efficiency. They are right, for the sake of business, it is much more profitable to freely dump toxic wastes and pollutants into the rivers and the atmosphere. No costly installations, no chemical controls, no silly paperwork to fill out.

CO2 emissions are the latest externality 1 on the table. So far no government is constraining the freedom of the individual to dump as much CO2 as they please into the atmosphere.
I suggest implementing fuel consumption quotas for private transportation. For many, that would be wrong and outrageously stupid. Fuel quotas will certainly hurt the transportation business 2. Badly.
Does it really matter?
Would it be that hard to share a ride with someone for commuting? Would it be that hard to use public transit more often? Would it be that hard to travel closer on vacation? Or less? Would it be really that hard to go karting, or dune-bugging, or dirt-bike riding, or enjoying a power boat and many more carbon-crazy leisure activities less often?
Not many years ago greedy, selfish and short-sighted industries were responsible for many environmental troubles. Toxic waste was dumped into the rivers until strict controls and regulations were implemented. Back then many lobbyists in Washington fought tooth and nail against any form of government regulation. Government intervention prevailed. Today there are few regrets.
Now there is a new challenge. CO2 emissions are out of control. We have to choose between action and inaction, between limited individual freedom or unlimited CO2 emissions. The human species is not stupid. As in the past, action will be taken. The question is when.
 
(1)  In economics, externalities are costs or benefits that affect a third party not involved in the economic transaction. For example, the air pollution generated by manufacturing activity causes health costs that must be borne by the whole society. Unregulated markets do not reflect the costs of the so called externalities, and therefore, business is more profitable than it really should be.

(2)  Fuel quotas could also bring some positive outcomes. Traffic congestion would be less of a problem. Tax payers money would not be wasted on further highway expansion projects.

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