President Barack Obama, a world leader and progressive climate change advocate, said at the GLACIER Conference in 2015 that, “Climate change is no longer some far off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now.”
Since 2015, the problem has only become more prominent, and the effects from the warming of the Earth are becoming more and more consequential and important to my generation, the leaders of tomorrow.Thus, climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed and I decided to explore in my GOA Course on “Game Theory”.
Climate change is a significant issue as the average surface temperature of the Earth has risen by 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, resulting in geological features of our planet warming, and having significant environmental impacts. Oceans have warmed, ice sheets have shrunk, and glaciers are retreating, resulting in sea levels rising and an increase in extreme weather events. These changes are significant, and are only going to be exacerbated with a predicted temperature increase of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.
Climate change and global warming is a significant issue, that is only going to worsen over the next century. The increase of carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere has driven the temperature higher, and is only going to continue increasing unless something changes. Major contributors to climate change are electricity and heat, transportation, and manufacturing. Significant changes need to be made to these industries in order to stop or slow the climate change that is occurring in the status quo.
Stopping the progression of climate change is almost certainly going to involve a government incentive, as businesses have little motivation to make large investments to change their current business practices, other than a moral obligation and public opinion. Thus, government policy similar to the 1965 Federal-Aid Highway Act where the government paid for 90% of the construction costs of highways funded from a small gas tax increase. A government push to implement green infrastructure would benefit generations to come, much like the interstate system did in the 60s.
Although many republicans oppose investing in green infrastructure and government funding for doing so would certainly generate criticism, it is necessary to provide economic and environmental stability for the globe for decades to come. Recently, democrats are making a push for the government to invest and subsidize green infrastructure, with Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Senator Ed Markey calling for the Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal is similar to FDR’s New Deal which was designed to get the country out of the Great Depression by implementing new programs and diverting money to promote economic development. The Green New Deal aims to simultaneously address economic inequality and climate change by shifting government resources to promote an economy driven by clean energy.
The Green New Deal aims to transition to a clean energy economy by investing in smart energy grids, energy-efficient manufacturing, and expanding mass transit to limit the number of private vehicles on the road. Switching to an economy built on renewable resources translates to lower operating costs for businesses that they’re able to pass off to the consumer, leading for lower costs for families. These changes would be done through infrastructure renewal, weatherizing buildings, and buying clean goods that protect the air, water, and climate.
The complexities of this issue and the politics that make reaching a solution are difficult, and that is why I decided to explore it using game theory. I set up a non-zero sum game between Sweden, whose population demands the government to push for green energy, and the United States. For the game, I laid out 3 options: zero emissions, reduced emissions, and keeping the status quo.
For Sweden, having zero emissions would be in their economic and social best interests, reducing their emissions would keep politicians and people happy, and doing nothing would frustrate people and politicians but also impact their economy. On the other hand, the United States would benefit economically in the long term from having zero emissions, but the political consequences would be strong. Reducing their emissions would keep everyone happy, and doing nothing would only continue to worsen climate change. Thus, it is in both Sweden and the United States’ best interests to adopt a zero emissions policy, since it has the highest payout for both of the countries.