Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who together with another former cabinet member, James A. Baker, conceived of the cap and dividend plan, reflected about the role he played in late President Ronald Reagan’s epiphany on the ozone crisis. “I had two private meetings a week with President Reagan,” Shultz recounted. “We talked about it. He became convinced that it was a real big problem.”
Ultimately, the Montreal Protocol was born. Long considered the most successful international treaty on the environment, the global agreement dealt with the phase out of harmful chlorofluorocarbons, which were creating the hole in the ozone. Reagan “went to the scientists,” according to Shultz “and said, ‘We respect you, but you do agree that if it happens it’s a catastrophe, so let’s take out an insurance policy.'”
Likewise, Shultz views the cap and dividend approach in a similar light: “I think that it’s obvious, first of all, that there is a deep problem, and it has severe consequences going forward. And with all due respect to the science, which I appreciate, you don’t have to rely on science. All you have to do is use your eyes. There is a new ocean being created in the Arctic. Why? The ice mass over Greenland is melting fast. Why? The Great Barrier Reef and other reefs in the Caribbean are all deteriorating. Why? And the answer is always the same. There is no question, no question, that the earth is warming, and there’s no question that there are consequences.”
Those with some time on their hands can check out the hour long conversation between Shultz and Stanford University’s director of the Precourt Institute for Energy.