Last Updated Dec 10, 2009 8:14 AM EST
Speaking to NPR's Planet Money, Elinor Ostrom, suggests we forget waiting for a big treaty between governments and instead begin personal initiatives closer to home. "Instead of sitting around twiddling our thumbs, people in communities around the world have got to take action themselves," she says, and goes on to argue that we should take responsibility for setting norms -- not leaving the house with the lights on and the heat way up, for example -- that can impact the problem and perhaps shame leaders into action, rather than giving ourselves permission to do as little as our governments.
To test whether this approach would work, the Planet Money crew play a game designed by German zoologist Manfred Milinski that tests whether people will spend money now to save the planet later. The results leave plenty of room for skepticism that Ostrom's approach will work -- only 50 percent of participants opted to save the earth.
As young people, we have a lot more at stake in this issue as we're likely to actually be around to see how the whole thing pans out. So do you think local solutions or top-down government action is more likely to succeed?