Nobel Laureate: Look for Local Solutions to Climate Change

Ostrom: Look for local solutions to global warmingAll eyes are on Copenhagen this week as the world's leaders convene their to discuss the global response to climate change. Environmental activists are clamoring for governments to do more about the problem, but according to this year's Nobel laureate in economics we all should be looking closer to home for solutions.
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?

The interview gets started about three and a half minutes in to the podcast. Hat tip to the Freakonomics blog for the pointer.

(Image of Greenpeace ad in the Copenhagen airport by Greenpeace International, CC 2.0)