Gernot Wagner's writing and speaking serves as a wake-up call. Individual action -- including the corporate kind -- won't and can't make a difference, and may often even be counterproductive to the larger outcome. Gernot is an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, teaches energy economics at Columbia, and wrote But Will the Planet Notice? (Hill & Wang/Farrar Strauss & Giroux, 2011). He doesn't eat meat, doesn't drive, and knows full well the futility of his personal choices.
You recycle, eat local, and aren't printing this email to save paper? Good. Just, of course, that none of that will save the tuna or stop global warming. The solution must be working with -- not against -- basic market forces channeling our very desires.
Free markets are the best way to solve many an environmental problem. Just that the current situation is anything but. Markets are woefully rigged in favor of pollution and polluters. Every ton of coal or barrel of oil causes more in damage than it adds value to GDP. Yet polluters are able to privatize the benefits and socialize the costs. That's the worst kind of socialism.