Professor Ralph Peeples co-writes about climate change in Triad Business Journal op/ed

Photo of Professor Ralph Peeples

Ralph Peeples has distinguished himself as teacher and scholar. Ralph is a four-time winner of an Excellence in teaching award at Wake. He is among a small group of scholars nationally that employ empirical methodologies to study and evaluate the legal system.

Professor Ralph Peeples and Bill Blancato co-wrote the following op-ed, “Guest Opinion: A market-based solution to manage the risk of climate change,” which was published by the Triad Business Journal on April 6, 2017.

Most businesses buy insurance. But most businesses don’t expect the perils they are insuring against to actually occur. Yet they still buy insurance.

Most Americans believe that our climate is changing, but not all do. The evidence for climate change is strong, but not everyone is persuaded. Virtually everyone, however, would agree that there is some chance our climate is changing and that human activity is causing the change. The real disagreement is over the size of that chance — the magnitude of the possibility.

If there is general agreement that climate change is a possibility, then shouldn’t we respond to that possibility? Predicting the future is not an exact science, but businesses try to forecast the future for one simple reason: They must in order to survive. Sometimes forecasts are right, and sometimes they are wrong, but forecasting happens all the time.

We should take the same approach with climate change. Regardless of what percentage chance we assign to climate change, the effects of climate change will be dramatic, if not catastrophic. It makes sense to take steps now to avert the worst effects. It’s like buying insurance.

One simple step would be to adopt a carbon tax and dividend policy, in which carbon is taxed at its source, and the proceeds from that tax are distributed to all. This is nothing more radical than applying supply-demand principles. As the price of carbon rises, demand principles. As the price of carbon rises, demand principles as the price of carbon rises, demand will fall. As demand falls, we reduce fossil fuel use, greenhouse gas emissions decline and we reduce the risks associated with increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.