At least on the national level, the government is doing a remarkably horrible job of directly countering the causes and symptoms of climate change. Perhaps it is because of the necessity for Republican votes on transformational legislation, or perhaps it’s because of the hesitancy among many Democrats to actually go through with radical changes, but nevertheless, we are stuck in a disastrous trap. The more we ignore the problem, the worse it gets. The worse the problem gets, the more Congress wants to look straight through it. This negative feedback loop in the United States has hampered many of the efforts of climate activists around the world. More and more people are calling on the government to provide some sort of carbon tax or other punitive action on fossil fuel companies that ignore the warnings of scientists, but these calls tend to go unanswered because of the political unpopularity of both taxes and government interference in energy markets among people on the right. What are we left with? A viable short-term solution.

If you push humanity far enough, we might just save ourselves from oblivion. One of the major issues with climate change, of course, is that not everyone is going to have their entire country flooded underwater or be stuck in a desert without any access to clean drinking water. It is not an equally distributed global catastrophe. The disasters brought upon by climate change, like many other disasters, will impact the global population extremely disproportionately. As unjust as it is, major polluters like the United States won’t face the worst of the effects of climate change. That’s not to say we won’t be in an extremely awful situation, but it won’t require large-scale migration like in many countries around the equator in the coming century. So, the boards of directors for U.S. manufacturers and energy producers might not have the incentive that you have to cut down on their destructive tendencies. The goal of activism, then, is to either convince the powerful people in the private sector to change for the better, change the people in power or push forward change without their consent. We should, at least for now, go for the private solution.

The United States has always taken pride in our manufacturing and energy-producing sectors. At the recent COP27 UN Conference, President Biden made sure to highlight the U.S.’s investments in green energy and usage of market forces to make strides toward effective solutions. We need not rely on direct bipartisan solutions to force some sort of action on climate change. Instead, we can focus on what the United States has always been good at — producing. We need only address the negative feedback loop of ignoring global climate disasters by creating a free-market positive feedback loop of our own, one that both addresses the fossil fuel industry and promotes new alternatives. It’s actually already happening, and it’s called the “Green Vortex.” The idea of this vortex is quite simple. The government promotes clean energy alternatives and domestic manufacturing through subsidies and incentives, and private companies produce more and more green energy for both profit and for global good, which leads to higher supply and lower prices for better alternatives for consumers. Lower prices lead to higher demand among non-wealthy consumers for renewable energies, and over time we can create a new infrastructure system that doesn’t decimate the Earth to give us light.

Over the past few decades, we have been too focused on the labor-monopoly side of the economy. Many Republican lawmakers have sought to destroy union monopolies on labor. Unions tend to exercise some sort of monopoly power to fight for wages that exceed the equilibrium wage. If a corporation, like Amazon, is inherently evil, they might use this to justify laying off workers to uphold steady profits. However, there is also a strong argument for an alternative optimal wage, where companies like Amazon can meet union demands by agreeing to a wage above market equilibrium that might even produce more efficient results. This is mirrored, much more dangerously compared to the necessity of unions, on the corporate side of the economy. Large energy companies hold oligopoly influence over their respective Earth-destroying fuels, and wield this influence to suppress strengthening renewable energy alternatives. If we are to use the subsidization of private companies rather than direct government action to solve climate issues, we can take this opportunity to break down influential fossil fuel companies, which is for the betterment of the globe and the market.

Biden and the Democrats, then, must focus more efforts on investigating corporate greenwashing and then use it as a justification for breaking down the most powerful fossil fuel companies. As long as these corporations are allowed to control markets by suppressing their competitors, we will not be able to use the most effective private solution to climate change (3). Funny enough, by breaking down these monopolies, we will also increase the effectiveness of the private sector, and therefore, by strengthening the competitiveness of the private sector, we will help push forward new renewable energy companies. We might also want to do this with agricultural corporations, who do their own crippling damage to watersheds and local environments.

Unfortunately, extreme partisanship will not be solved any time soon. But we shouldn’t see the inability of Congress to pass large-scale energy bills as a total failure for our goal of mitigating climate change’s impact on people around the world. Indeed, we might actually be able to use capitalism to benefit people for a change. With the right influence, companies and free-market competition might lead to a better world.

Sean Reichbach is a sophomore double-majoring in philosophy, politics and law and economics.