The Energy “Market”

In response to the meme here, I would say that it depends on one’s definition of “market.”  If we mean the market of today, in which corporations are free to use our atmosphere as their own private sewers, and convert our rainforests into pastureland for the 2.94 million cows that they slaughter each year, then yes, we need to rethink our system (whatever that means).

But what happens when these business entities are forced to bear the costs of the environmental damage they’re doing, like the rest of us?  If I have an old mattress I want to get rid of, I take it to a landfill and pay a fee to dispose of it.  Suppose the price of a kilowatt-hour of electricity contained the cost of repairing the environmental damage of the CO2 (and methane, heavy metals, and radioactive isotopes) that was released into the atmosphere in the process of generating it.

The immediate impact would be to move the market in the direction of low-carbon and nontoxic energy sources.  Solar, wind, hydro, and the rest would become the bargains of the century.

We really don’t need a new market; we simply have to make what we have now fair to everyone.