We need to know what resources we are using with every choice we make. Embodied energy should be labeled on everything.
Too much of the discussion of climate change is based on the arguments over the data. We can never be certain of cause, because science is not about discovering certainties, only probabilities. Instead of being paralyzed by the terrifying big picture with all its uncertainties, we should focus on all sharing the information we do have on what resources we use and what wastes we produce.
Every level of production: extration, transportaion, manufacture, retail, and disposal should be required to keep track of all energy and resources used and waste produced for all their products. If all the data was recorded and publically available and put on every label the choices we as consumers both in the developed and developing world would be explicit. Societal pressure would force many people to think about the choices. This kind of awarness requires the work of government regulations, buisness honesty and monitoring, and customer interest. While not everyone would pay attention, the labeling would force all discussions to admit that there are some things that do not need to be made with so little regard to the consequences for people and the planet. Especially in the developed world we have a responsibility to be aware that we are making choices that damage other people.
Category of the action
What actions do you propose?
The first step would be a voluntary information sharing and ceritfication which would lead to labeling guidlines, and give the early adopters an advantage.
During the first step national and international regulations about information sharing would be negotiated including specific details like resource, wates, and energy monitoring as well as wages and working conditions.
Finally regulations would go into effect and businesses would be required to share their data and label products with there global impacts on energy, pollution, and social or economic scales.
Who will take these actions?
Some of the volutary ratings have been started, but to make a real difference governments must make the information open access. If everyone must collect and share data then no one can gain advantage by avoiding the costs of monitoring. The system would be mostly self-enforcing because businesses would have incentive to make sure none of their competitors were lying to get an advantage.
Businesses would have to monitor all aspects of their process and produce labels that included the data.
Consumers would have to read the labels and act on the information(at least occasionally).
Media and activists would need to call out producers and products that are particularly bad or good for the environment.
Where will these actions be taken?
The developed countries would bear the majority of the burden for demanding accountability and paying the monitoring costs, but as much of the resources are extracted or manufactured in developing countries they would need to contribute. The whole system must be international from the begining because so much of our market is international.
What are other key benefits?
Heightened consumer awareness would push for less consumption and more efficient business practices.
The wage and working condition differences between developed and developing worlds would be forced into the open and labeled on every package, leading to more equal conditions.
The global market would be given incentives to minimize transportation, and wastes.
General ignorance about how every choice affects the planet would be limited.
The power to voluntarily change the world would be put in the hands of every citizen
What are the proposal’s costs?
The biggest cost is in monitoring pollution and energy, though the international politics is likely to have significant transaction costs.