Letter: A carbon tax can start us on a low-carbon path.
Douglas Fischer/Daily Climate

Letter: A carbon tax can start us on a low-carbon path.

Uncertainty over climate impacts is no reason to shy from a modest incentive to break our fossil fuel addiction.

Letter: A carbon tax can start us on a low-carbon path


Photo by Douglas Fischer/DailyClimate.org

July 19, 2016

Uncertainty over climate impacts is no reason to shy from a modest incentive to break our fossil fuel addiction.

Re: To Tax or Not To Tax (July 18, 2016)

Follow @thedailyclimate

To the Editor:

I'm amazed that you would distribute such an anti-science article opposing even the mildest of approaches to dealing with the climate problem.

Author Ruth Greenspan Bell—after admitting broad support among economists for the idea of a carbon tax—offers three objections to it: flawed models, downplayed risk and uncertainty.

We can estimate easily enough the amount of CO2 emission reduction for different tax levels.

None should stand in the way of a modest tax on carbon emissions.

Greenspan Bell notes that models attempt to estimate the least cost of damage to be incurred by climate change, and she concludes that such calculations are next to impossible to tally. I agree. The "externalities" of climate change are notoriously difficult to pin down. We can easily calculate increases in insurance rates, annual government disaster aid, etc., but such data make up a small fraction of overall environmental damages.

Tally solutions, not impacts

Yet these are not the relevant costs. The damage costs may help the political argument, but they are secondary. The costs that are needed are those addressing the task at hand: Curtailing greenhouse gas emissions, i.e. the costs of converting the world economy to renewable energy sources. These are costs for equipment and subsidies to get new industry going on the scale that is needed. All pretty standard accounting.

We can estimate easily enough the amount of CO2 emission reduction for different tax levels. In fact, that work has already been done: Citizens' Climate Lobby has crunched the numbers for a "fee and dividend" version of a tax scheme where the monies collected are returned to families. From that work we see that a reasonable tax is only the start of a bigger program bringing widespread benefits—the first step and a demonstration of political intent in a larger effort to reduce emissions, improve air quality and add jobs to the economy.

—Joel Olson

Moore, Okla.

Department of the Interior

Peter Dykstra: Public disservants

A quartet of Interior Secretaries who gave the rest a bad name.

The U.S. Department of the Interior oversees public lands, national parks and wildlife refuges, and has a major impact on the nation's environmental direction.

Keep reading...Show less
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Is China ready to lead on protecting nature? At the upcoming UN biodiversity conference, it will preside and set the tone.
theconversation.com

Is China ready to lead on protecting nature? At the upcoming UN biodiversity conference, it will preside and set the tone.

China has rich natural resources and is seeking to play a leadership role in global conservation, but its economic goals often take priority over protecting lands and wildlife.
Sidestepping a new climate commitment, FERC greenlights a mammoth LNG project
insideclimatenews.org

Sidestepping a new climate commitment, FERC greenlights a mammoth LNG project

After declaring nine months ago that it would start factoring climate change into regulatory decisions about major gas projects, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has thrown up its collective hands and concluded that it doesn’t know how. At least not yet. The uncertainty was conveyed last month when the commission’s five members, all presidential appointees, […]
Some 120,000 U.S. oil wells sit abandoned, new research shows

Some 120,000 U.S. oil wells sit abandoned, new research shows

States have identified more abandoned wells after the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law, which provided $4.7 billion to address the problem.

Coal-fired power plant in New Jersey to be imploded for clean power

A former coal-fired power plant in New Jersey will be imploded Friday, and its owners are expected to announce plans for a new clean energy venture on the site.

Congressional Democrats: Not a chance of reopening climate law

The president has been clear about his support for establishing a U.S. manufacturing base for electric vehicles.

EU’s new climate change plan will cause biodiversity loss and deforestation: Analysis

A new climate change plan in the European Union, which has been lauded for its ambitious targets and aggressive action on emissions, will sacrifice carbon-storing trees, threaten biodiversity and outsource deforestation, according to a new paper.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
United Nations climate change

Op-ed: It’s time to re-think the United Nations’ COP climate negotiations

Instead of focusing on negotiations, let the main event be information sharing, financing and partnerships that produce faster technological change.

population environmental

Op-ed: What the media gets wrong about the new world population numbers

The last time that we lived within the productivity limits of our planet was about 50 years ago — that is a problem.

katharine hayhoe

Peter Dykstra: Journalists I’m thankful for

My third annual list of the over-achieving and under-thanked.

sperm count decline shanna swan

A new analysis shows a “crisis” of male reproductive health

Global average sperm count is declining at a quicker pace than previously known, chemical exposure is a suspected culprit.

WATCH: The latest evidence of widespread sperm count decline

WATCH: The latest evidence of widespread sperm count decline

"Pregnant women, and men planning to conceive a pregnancy, have a responsibility to protect the reproductive health of the offspring they are creating."

sperm count decline

Frequently asked questions on the new sperm count decline study

Sperm counts are declining everywhere — the implications are huge.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.