A Solution to Climate Change

By Meera Ramachandran

A scary book can help some folk nestle into the mood of the Halloween season. With the fall around the corner, it’s good to know about a book that should ignite terror in the hearts of people with its post-apocalyptic nature.

What makes it frightening is that it could very easily be the narrative of our future, with our older selves and children as the main characters.

The book is called The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming by David Wallace-Wells.

Wallace-Wells is a self-described non-environmentalist, and a city loving reporter for New York magazine. He unapologetically describes what will come to pass if we do not change our way of life; one so intricately linked to fossil fuels.

Sure, we could change a few things about the way we live – eat lower on the food chain, bike to work, buy locally-sourced foods, drive electric cars, lead by example. Still, most of us know a single person’s impact is not enough to alter the course of this fate.

The good news is that there are many solutions. If enacted collectively, they could shift us away from this projected catastrophe.

Of those many possible solutions, the one that has been proven to be the most effective in rapidly cutting down our carbon emissions is that of a carbon tax. Plainly stated, if something increases in price, people will buy less of it.

The word “tax” is fairly cringe-worthy. Nobody wants to be spending more money on something that has been a comfortable price for a steady period of time. Many feel they are already paying a lot without getting much in return.

How about those that live on the margins? Sadly, that is the majority of our country. Quite a few people say that even thirteen dollars a month more in efforts to save the planet was something they wanted to do, but could not afford.

A way to help get around these issues is a proposal called Carbon Fee and Dividend.

It is an idea that has been around for years and was recently written into a bill that resides in the U.S. House of Representatives called H.R. 763, The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

The bill would place a fee of $15/ton on carbon-based products (oil, natural gas, coal) when they are pulled out of the ground and the amount would increase every year by $10/ton.

The money collected would be returned to each American in the form of an equal dividend. Children would get a half dividend.

There is a also a border adjustment to help promote international engagement and to prevent businesses from “polluting overseas” to make their products cheaply.

What works about this proposal is that the price of fossil fuels will eventually become too expensive to use as a main source of fuel, paving the way for innovation and increased affordability of clean energy.

It also protects low-income individuals who would not be able to afford the transitory increase of everyday goods. In fact, one is rewarded for living with a low carbon footprint.

Putting a tax on a product has been studied in comparison to just raising the price of it. For unknown reasons, consumers will change their utilization of a product if the price increase is labeled as a tax.

Additionally, this bill is bipartisan in nature, making it more likely to pass without the threat of repeal when there is a change of power in Washington DC.

It appeals to conservatives because it is a market-based solution that doesn’t create government. In addition, the program disappears once our goal of zero emissions is reached. (Alternatively though, the fee will ramp up if our target goals are not reached).

The majority of conservative voters believe in climate change and are interested in solutions.

This bill does not address all the sources of emission or other environmental problems. For instance, it does not target agricultural sources of methane production or  coolants used for refrigeration.

Nor does it solve the problem of our overwhelming consumption of plastics, but, it is important to note that this proposal is expected to cut emissions by forty percent by 2040 and ninety percent by 2050; a goal that the most recent IPCC report recommended. No single policy has this dramatic of an effect.

This bill currently resides in the House of Representatives, so write to your Congress members to request their support.

Change comes from the bottom up so to avoid the apocalyptic scenario described in The Uninhabitable Earth, it is up to us to fight for a livable world.

For more information, visit: citizensclimatelobby.org.

A Solution to Climate Change

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