Sunday, October 4, 2015

Carbon Tax, The Only Real Path To A Future

Carbon fee is a better term.  It's not really a tax, but a way of making producers of CO2 emissions pay for the damage they're inflicting on our environment, just as we would make a company pay for cleaning up damage it is doing to our environment like cleaning rivers of manufacturing effluent, for example.

Even the conservative Cato Institute has come out in favor of a carbon fee.  One reason is that it would be an economic solution to the problem of global warming as opposed to a government regulatory solution.  But it isn't going to happen any time soon because of the hardline opposition by the Republicans in Congress.

There are some who believe it can be done without the carbon fee,
“Have the people who are destroying the planet pay for destroying the planet,” he said. “If you can’t succeed at that… the next best thing is to incentivize those who are not destroying the planet.”
says the solar company, SolarCity.   There certainly is a world-wide trend for alternate energy sources, and the SolarCity product appears to be significantly moving in that direction.  But will it be enough.

Climate Interactive analyzed the different outcomes considering the reductions in emissions currently proposed by the world's governments.




We are currently headed for a 2 degree Celsius future by 2030.  Even that goal means more extreme weather over the planet, more floods, droughts, social disorder, and refugees.  But to achieve that as a goal would require our stopping all CO2 emissions right now.  And if we do nothing we are headed for a 4.5 degree Celsius future, essentially the end of civilization.  Sure many will survive, but you can forget about cities, universities, organized agriculture, pretty much all that humans have achieved.

But nations are getting together in Paris, and they all have agreed to severe reductions in emissions by various methods, though the promises the U.S. have made are unrealistically conditional on getting the Republican Party aboard.  But even that goal, indicated as proposed on the graph above, 3.5 degrees Celsius, will be tragic for our planet and our societies. Coastal cities will be inundated.  Hundreds of millions will starve. There will be hundreds of millions fleeing their homes.
In other words, the current proposals by the nations participating in the Paris Climate Change Conference will not be enough for a livable future.  The only path to a 2 degree Celsius world will require a far more rapid response than what is being proposed at the Conference, and that path is a carbon fee.

Solar panels will appear everywhere.  Wind turbines, ocean turbines, will be built by the thousands, maybe even millions, but as the analysis shows, it is not going to be enough to keep us within the 2 degrees Celsius goal.  We have to have a carbon fee.

That will mean gasoline will cost a lot more.  But depending on how it is implemented, the fee will help finance the public transportation that takes the place of commuting and traveling.  And it will encourage the purchase of electric vehicles.  Gas powered vehicles will then be a lot more expensive to use.  And the greater demand for electric vehicles will reduce their prices.  Airlines will be forced to move to carbon neutral biofuels.  None of this will happen without a carbon fee.  There will be nothing to overcome the inertia of burning oil and coal.

Unless we do something, we will be like the exotic fish in the doctor's office fish tank, fouling the water we live in, but without the person who visits every week to clean the tank.