Make climate change matter, or else, author argues
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, April 22, 2014 11:41AM EDT
The planet is slowly heating up, says Canadian author Tom Rand, and we need to wake up before the climate change gets worse.
That's the message behind Rand's new book, "Waking the Frog." Rand uses the old story of a frog swimming in a slowly-warming pot of water to illustrate the dangers of climate change, and the need to adopt new measures like a carbon tax.
The story goes like this: a frog will leap out of a pot of water if the temperature suddenly spikes, but if the increase is gradual, the frog will keep swimming around until it's "cooked" to death.
According to Rand, that frog is us.
Rand's title is meant to reach people in a way facts and figures can't.
"People don't react to numbers and rational arguments," he told CTV's Canada AM on Earth Day. "You can't just throw numbers at people because it will just scare them into submission, or they simply won't let it in."
The threat of climate change makes people uncomfortable, Rand said. That's why the narrative needs to shift from a scientific one to a market-driven one.
"The language we need to use is one of common sense," said Rand.
Rand believes changing the way we talk about climate change -- or "climate disruption," as he calls it -- is the best way to break out of our complacent attitude toward the environment.
The former software entrepreneur with university training in philosophy and economics, has become an advocate for clean technologies, as well as a carbon tax, to slow climate change. He said there's still time for humans to wake up and fight -- if they're given the right push.
"In a market economy, unless you price something, it isn't worth anything," Rand said of his push for a carbon tax.
The market is the most powerful and dynamic tool we have to solve the climate problem, but it needs a signal to change or it will continue to make the problem worse, he said. "The free market will burn every piece of coal in the ground," said Rand.
A carbon tax puts an added cost on the production, distribution and use of fossil fuels so people will look for cheaper, more eco-friendly alternatives instead.
Rand sees the cost of a carbon tax as a kind of climate insurance that everyone could buy into.
It's costly but it makes sense to have, he said explaining that such a tax would pressure the fossil fuel industry to look for new ways to solve the energy problem.
"It's not a political decision. It's simply the most effective tool we have in using the market," said Rand.
Essentially, it would wake the frog.
"We can solve this problem," Rand said. "We live on the cusp of the 21st century, but if we don't solve this problem, most of our civic structures will crumble this century."
Rand said the financial strain of a carbon tax would be temporary as society shifts to a more sustainable energy model based on solar, wind, geothermal and next-generation nuclear technologies.
"You need to tell a story about hope," he said.