Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stanford scholar recommends carbon taxes on citizens now; face up to climate change


Jeffrey Ball has a somewhat generic article “Facing the Truth about Climate Change” on p. 24 of the February 2015 of The New Republic (“TNR”).  “Humanity is faced with a looming environmental crisis”.  The link is here. A lot of the discussion appears to the political measures that would be necessary to keep the global rise in temperature a manageable 2 degrees C (almost 4 F) by 2100.  Even that will affect low-lying populations (often poor) and cause more intense storms and droughts.
  
  
The essay is a bit diffuse, given the writer’s claim of confrontation, but his main recommendation is that we need direct carbon taxes, not cap-and-trade.
  
How would this affect the “average citizen”?  Maybe especially if an “average Jo”.  He says we will eat, travel, trade and manufacture in novel ways, which he hopes are not “archaic” (read Luddite). 
Does this mean that a carbon tax is like a sales tax?  If it is revenue neutral, does it come off the income tax as a credit?  If it does that, how does it mix with concepts like standard deduction, exclusions, and the like?  (The old “People’s Party” which believed in a “single tax”) wouldn’t like this.)
  
Nevertheless, the way people use energy comes a sustainability and “moral” issue.  People in rural areas drive more, but usually live in larger households.  Single people can use energy inefficiently, especially when driving, but are more likely to live in urban areas in smaller units and be able to walk and use public transportation. 
  
Ball is a scholar-in-residence at Stanford University. 

Picture: I tweeted that this simulates what Titan might look like, with methane snow instead of real snow, of course.  The current cold wave in the East, due to a Siberian high migrating over the North Pole, might ironically result from global warming elsewhere.  


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