Consider a carbon tax
Imagine that 97 mold experts tell you that your house is a festering mass of black molds, but three others assure you the mold is not all that black. What will you do?
This is the situation we face in regard to climate change. Ninety-seven of 100 scientists assure us it is here. It is largely the result of burning carbon based fuels, and if we do nothing, there will be disaster. Yet we opt to do nothing.
Conservative leaders are beginning to challenge that stance. Most recently, Hank Paulson (Yes, that Hank Paulson: Republican, former George Bush Secretary of the Treasury) wrote an editorial (“The Coming Climate Crash,” New York Times, June 22, 2014). In it, he argued that “we are staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy.” He asserted that the market solution to the problem is a carbon tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Such a tax will incentivize new cleaner energy technologies and create jobs. So doing, he believes, will also strengthen national security.
Of course, such a move will be fought hammer and tong by existing carbon fuel interests. But when an economist such as Paulson proposes such a move, it is time to stop bickering over whether this is a conservative or liberal perspective, and recognize that it is a solution to a massive and economically devastating problem that we dare not continue to ignore. In Paulson’s words, “Risk management is a conservative principle, as is preserving our natural environment for future generations.”
The time to manage the risk of climate change and preserve our children’s future is now. We need to accept the cost, embrace the benefit, and move forward on a tax on carbon.