Letter: The economic side of climate change
The economic side of climate change
When people say they’re skeptical about climate change, I notice that a couple of common themes come up. One is that the science is unreliable; the other is that government action would be too expensive and intrusive.
I empathize with people who feel this way. Although the basic science of climate change is settled, there are still uncertainties about exactly how — and how fast — the climate will change. There are even bigger uncertainties about the cost of addressing climate change, because the economic models are a lot less advanced than the climate models, and because economic outcomes depend partly on unpredictable things like politics and technology. So naturally, there’s some question as to what the speed and scale of the response should be.
But I don’t think that science and economics are what we’re actually talking about when we talk about climate change. The debate isn’t about whether or when or how much — it’s about how.
It’s about the fundamental concern that many people have, which I understand and respect, that the action that’s going to be required to address climate change will violate their principles of limited government and individual liberty.
So with that introduction, I’d like to make your readers aware of the recently formed Roaring Fork Valley chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby.
We’re advocating a market-based policy that would put a price on all fossil fuels to train our economy to be more efficient and emit less carbon. Many energy companies have gone on record in support of such a policy, and a number of them are already pricing their carbon emissions internally. This price, phased in gradually over a decade or so, would give businesses the predictability they need to make an efficient transition.
The other part of the policy is that it’s revenue-neutral. It’s a carbon tax, but all revenues would be returned to households in the form of a monthly dividend. Thus no drag is placed on the economy, and low-income households aren’t unfairly impacted.
Economists — conservative as well as liberal ones — will tell you that putting a price on carbon will send the right signal to consumers to use less of things that emit carbon dioxide. Even more importantly, it will turn up the signal to innovators and entrepreneurs to develop profitable new ways to run our economy on less carbon.
We’re anxious to transcend the partisanship that’s paralyzing our nation into inaction, and we believe this policy does that. I invite you to join us. Anyone interested can contact us at email@example.com.
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