Everyone wants to save the environment but no one wants to pay for it.

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This march in London on 29 November was held as part of a series of rallies worldwide prior to the Paris climate change talks. Activists want decisive action to limit the rise in average global temperature to 2 degrees celcius above pre-industrial levels. (Alisdare Hickson)

Landfills? Absolutely. Gotta have ’em. Our trash has to go somewhere, right? No question about that. And we sure make a lot of it.

A landfill in the woods behind my house, you say? Blasphemy! Sacrilege! Desiccation! Destruction! Fire! Fever! Murder!

How about your backyard, instead?

Everybody (else)

Most people want to save the environment. Sure, why not? As long as it doesn’t inconvenience them personally.

Higher taxes, fewer hard-earned dollars available for things like rent and food, is certainly an inconvenience. More so for some than for others.

It is an unfortunate irony of the environmental movement that the world’s poorest are the most adversely affected by climate change, and society’s poorest are the most adversely affected by its solutions.

In European countries, even in Canada where the once-beloved Justin Trudeau is now experiencing deep polling trouble, and in other countries that have tried such measures, high carbon-offset taxes have hit the working class, the lower-income, the disadvantaged, the elderly, the differently-abled, and those living at or under the poverty line the hardest.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Cause and Effect

Around the world, the backlash over economically heavy-handed climate change policies that have proven too expensive for the working class in countries across the globe continues unabated.

That these policies have also failed to address climate change, or that climate change can never be addressed globally without the willing cooperation of China and India, isn’t winning any converts either.

From the months-long, well-publicized yellow vest protests in France to today’s Australian election upset, voters are rejecting well-meant but misguided efforts to save the planet from the peril of human beings.

In spite of polls that predicted a victory of Australia’s liberal political party, the conservative party has claimed victory.

It is a scene eerily reminiscent of others which have played out all over the world as various countries have tried and failed, in turns, by fits and starts, to address climate change.

The Real Answer

The answer to climate change is not punitive tax measures that cripple businesses and chill innovation; far from it. We can’t tax our way out this environmental crisis; we must innovate our way out.

The answer to human-driven climate change must come from the tech sector, from a scientific breakthrough like ‘plastic’ coatings for food made from fruit, or new plastics that recycle themselves from the inside out. Paper that is made of seeds.

Henry Ford did more for horses than any animal rights advocate who has ever lived.

The climate crisis is a huge problem with a trillion dollar solution in the free market global economy and the race is on; from clean renewable energy, to better conservation, to water scarcity solutions- everything.

If everyone wants to save the planet and no one wants to pay for it, this is no time to tie the hands of innovators and entrepreneurs who want to do both.

It is also no time to continue to alienate the working class who would otherwise support common sense measures that could be demonstrated to have a measurable effect.

The failure of carbon taxes in countries around the world represent a policy failing, not a moral one. People are anxious to do their part if given the proper motivations, and opportunities, to do so.

Just ask German grocery superstar…Aldi. That’s right; Aldi. The no-frills, bare-bones, low-cost juggernaut makes even Amazon nervous. You have to bring a quarter to rent a cart; no need to pay employees to collect carts, people have to return them to get their quarter back. And they do. For the savings.

You also have to bring your own bags or pay for them. People do that, too. For the savings.

Climate-progressive policies must be economically viable, they must make success measurable, and they must inspire willing compliance from a willing population.

That is the only way to get everyone on board in a global economy as diverse as ours.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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