Magazine September 7, 2009, Issue

A Matter of Scale

(Alexander Tsang/Unsplash)
Cap-and-trade, despite some successes, is no panacea for greenhouse-gas emissions

A common liberal talking point is that, based on the historical record, reducing greenhouse gases should be fairly easy. After all, acid rain was once a terrible problem, but government regulations have brought it under control in most developed countries (though it remains a scourge of the developing world). Similarly, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs, a family of chemicals sometimes called by the trade name Freon) once threatened to destroy the ozone layer, which shields the Earth from nasty ultraviolet rays. But thanks to a series of international agreements, CFCs, too, have been phased out almost entirely.

Neither of these tasks was easy, but …

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