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The Story of Cap & Trade

Global warming is such an alarming subject — and so complicated as a political and policy issue — that many people just avoid it. Fortunately, Annie Leonard, who produced the celebrated educational video, The Story of Stuff, has come out with a brilliant new video, The Story of Cap & Trade. It’s a highly accessible account of how the “cap and trade” system for controlling carbon emissions is deeply flawed as a solution for global warming.

Leonard, acting as the on-screen host and narrator, uses a series of clever animated cartoon sketches to explain why most cap and trade proposals won’t work. She begins:

This is a story about a world obsessed with stuff. It’s a story about a system in crisis. We’re trashing the planet. We’re trashing each other. And we’re not every having fun. The good thing is that when we start to understand the system, we start to see lots of places were we can step in and turn these problems into solutions.

The problem with cap and trade, Leonard points out, is that the details of most proposals sabotage the benefits. They give free permits to polluters, sanction carbon offset schemes that don’t really reduce emissions, and tout “solutions” that really amount to distractions. “The Story of Cap and Trade” is only a few minutes long, but far more illuminating than most of the news accounts that you will read. Highly recommended.