I must take issue with the April 10 Comment headlined "Same Rules For Everyone" in which Charles Crumpley argues that California's effort to become the first state to impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions could be "stupid" because it will increase costs to consumers and encourage businesses to move to states that don't have such limits.
An underlying assumption in the editorial is that efforts to control greenhouse emissions will damage the economy. There are many reasons and much data to forecast the opposite. Some businesses could possibly, in the short term, suffer from new greenhouse emission-control standards. But many other businesses will come into existence out of this new state-wide effort and legislation.
In the past, California led changes in other economic areas that had as big an impact on well-established industries as this one, if not bigger. The software revolution, at its onset, certainly had a negative impact on B2B and B2C businesses providing services that suddenly became obsolete. Still, it led California to an even more stable position as the richest state of the country.
Industry changes are always a part of economics, and economics, unfortunately, is based on the needs of human beings. Responses to global warming have become a prime necessity.
The editorial claims that some businesses might leave California because of increased costs to consumers. As you know, an increase in price does not automatically mean a decrease in demand. This is true in general, as many economic factors affect demand, but it is especially true considering California's demographics. Businesses will think twice before leaving the state with the highest absolute population growth in the country.
Crumpley concluded by stating that "a far better route is to defer to the federal government and have national or even global standards."
Unfortunately, as everyone can see, this is just not
happening. As the editorial mentioned, the federal government has balked on adopting the Kyoto accord, no carbon emission reduction treaty alternative to Kyoto has been proposed by the United States, and there was no shift in domestic policies.
Yes, the rules should be the same for everyone (at least, or, better yet, should be set in proportion to levels of carbon emissions). Go tell it to the current U.S. Administration. The United States, by far the major carbon polluter in the world, has pulled itself out of "the rules" and has made no effort to create new rules.
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