By Delton Chen
The world community is aware that we need to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to stabilize the climate and to protect the biosphere. Unfortunately, global GHG emissions have risen steadily since the industrial revolution and have continued to rise even after introduction of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Environmentalists, scientists and political pundits believe that our collective failure to address the climate crisis is the direct result of greed and short-termism. More specifically, many people blame the profit-based motives of the political elite, fossil fuel companies, and large corporations. Furthermore, there is growing concern that the capitalist system is a fundamentally flawed system because it promotes greed and unsustainable consumerism.
Although greed and short-termism are major factors in perpetuating the climate crisis — the position that Delton takes is different. Delton argues that the root cause of the climate crisis is a conceptual-level misunderstanding of how carbon functions in the economy and in living systems in general. Delton argues that the market failure in carbon can only be corrected by introducing a parallel economy that is structured for (a) removing GHGs from the atmosphere, (b) reducing GHG emissions, and (c) prioritizing specific activities that can regenerate the biosphere and communities.
Delton’s position is that the word community is unable to correct the market failure in GHGs because the standard conceptual model for the market failure in carbon is incomplete. More specifically, he claims that the standard theory for “externalities” is seriously limited because it focuses our attention on the externalities associated with production and consumption. Delton proposes a new externality — a new type of positive externality — that can be created with the introduction of a parallel economy that is based on a parallel currency.
He claims that humanity has a natural blind spot that hinders our ability to see the systemic risk associated with the existing economy and the need for the parallel economy. He claims that our species evolved to survive via the consumption of organic matter (i.e. biofuels), and to perceive certain kinds of risks that are dynamic in nature. Thus, humanity does not instinctively perceive the network-related risks that are integral to the world economy. Humanity, with its cognitive biases, has failed to respond to the network risks that are pushing the climate crisis into uncharted territory. The name given to these network risks is the “carbon lock-in effect”. The carbon lock-in effect is quantified as the Risk Cost of Carbon (RCC) when undertaking the new style of risk-based economic assessments that Delton is proposing.
Delton argues that a new policy — called a Global Carbon Reward — can address the carbon lock-in effect and address or "internalize" the RCC. Delton argues it is possible to resolve and explain a wide set of closely related philosophical, theoretical and technical conundrums that comprise the climate crisis. A unique feature of Delton’s new theoretical framework is that is appears to be consistent with the thermodynamics of living systems that can achieve carbon neutrality. Delton says that his theory is grounded in physical laws, and it might provide an important breakthrough in the social and natural sciences. Delton is currently working towards documenting the new theory and having it reviewed by scientists and physicists. He is also raising money to demonstrate the GCR policy and provide a policy proof-of-concept.