Leigh Ix , David Winegar, Jayanth Ganesan
Greenhouse gas emissions have accelerated global warming over the past few decades, and threaten to cause a rise in sea levels, famine, and drought. Agriculture is responsible for 20% of emissions and is a main contributor of nitrous oxide and methane, both more powerful greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. Farms have a variety of ways to reduce emissions, including carbon sinks and dietary supplements to reduce methane produced by livestock. Reducing agricultural emissions should be one part of a larger, nationwide policy for reducing greenhouse gases. The main policy tools that the government can use to reduce pollution are pollution control mandates, pollution taxes, and cap and trade systems. Pollution control mandates involve requiring companies to implement certain technologies to reduce pollution, while pollution taxes place a simple dollar value on pollution and tax it at that rate. Cap and trade systems put a cap on the amount of pollution allowed and then give away pollution permits. There are a variety of advantages and disadvantages to each proposal, but cap and trade systems tend to be the most efficient, because they give farms the most freedom to reduce emissions, while pollution mandates are the least efficient. There are some obstacles to setting up a cap and trade system, but none that cannot be overcome through careful planning. The government should extend a cap and trade system to agriculture, with some mandated pollution controls to control non-point source pollution, in order to most efficiently reduce pollution.