The Best Way to Stop Climate Change

  • Earth from Space

Many of us are well aware of climate change, so we use LED light bulbs, plant trees, recycle, and lower our thermostats in the winter. As we do all this, however, we realize that fossil fuel companies are receiving billions of dollars in federal subsidies and that global warming and climate change continue to increase.

Is there anything you can do that would have a significant impact on global warming?

Yes, there is! You can contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives and urge them to pass a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Climate scientists and economist agree that’s the best thing we can do our climate and for the American economy as well.

In general, the problem with taxes is that they discourage people from doing whatever is taxed. But we wantto discourage people from burning carbon-based fuels, and putting a tax on the carbon we put into the atmosphere by burning fuels such as coal, oil, and gas does exactly that.

Revenue-neutral means that the money collected would be returned to households instead of becoming part of the federal budget. In other words, the carbon tax wouldn’t grow the federal government. The tax would be collected at the mine, at the well head, or (if we imported the fuels) at the border. The fee would start small (say, $15 per ton) and then gradually increase each year (by, say, $10 per ton). At this rate, after 10 years, the price of gas would have risen only $1.08 per gallon as a result of the policy.

Why levy such a tax? For two reasons:

The first is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) we’re putting into the atmosphere, so we can eventually reverse the climate change it’s causing. According to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change is causing heat waves and droughts, leading to massive forest fires. It’s reducing global crop yields, leading to widespread hunger and even starvation. It’s enabling the spread of Lyme disease, West Nile virus, hantavirus and dengue fever.

It’s also raising sea levels, leading to flooding of low-lying areas, including some in the U.S. According to the International Organization for Migration, by 2050 this may make as many as one billion people climate refugees, leading to more terrorism and wars.

People are already dying because of climate change.

The second reason to implement a revenue-neutral carbon tax is because it would benefit our economy. It would encourage investors to support the development of clean energy technology. It also would encourage people to waste less energy and use more clean energy. In addition, it would provide more jobs because clean energy is more labor intensive than petroleum refining.

The world’s carbon-based energy era is ending. We’re entering the era of clean energy. Countries such as Germany, Sweden and China already support the development of clean energy technology, and we’re buying that technology from them — technology we in America could develop and manufacture if our entrepreneurs were spurred to do that by a carbon tax.

Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) is conducting a study of the economic impact that a revenue-neutral carbon tax would have on the United States that will come out in early June. While we don’t know the results of that study, we do know the results of a study it did on the state of California:

It found that if California had such a tax, then after 20 years Californians would decrease their carbon dioxide emissions by 31 percent. They would also pay $1.80 per gallon more for gas because of the tax, but most would receive as much or more in refunds than they had paid in tax.

The study also found the tax would increase Californians’ personal income by $16 billion and provide about 300,000 new jobs.

Conservative and progressive economists alike support putting a price on carbon, as do most climate scientists. It’s the best way to improve our economy while reducing the damage we’re doing to our climate.

Urge U.S. Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin to call for hearings as the first step in getting a revenue-neutral carbon tax through Congress.