Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lets do the carbon tax the right way

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported atmospheric CO2 levels reached 395 parts per million (PPM) this year.  That’s 115 PPM higher than any time in at least 800,000 years, and it’s shocking!
 CO2 thickens the atmosphere trapping heat and moisture.  The more moisture trapped the worse droughts and storms become.  Humans pump 90 million tons of CO2 up there every 24 hours by burning fossil fuels.
Peer-reviewed science proving climate change is overwhelming.  The supposed disagreement among climate scientists about the reality of climate change is a manufactured myth created by fossil industry financed “think tanks” like the Heartland Institute and the Heritage Foundation and repeated by their brainwashed paranoid conspiratorial followers.
If “seeing is believing” losing 75% of the arctic sea ice last year should be enough to convince anyone that global warming is real. Since most people never see the arctic, shouldn’t witnessing terrible heat waves, droughts, wildfires, dust storms, and tornadoes; seeing super storms like Katrina and Sandy; seeing weird snowstorms and unusually strong consistent winds convince us?
Solar, wind, and geothermal are clean energy sources poised to replace fossil fuels. Right now, the playing field is stacked against clean energy. The US fossil industry in 2012 was subsidized to the tune of $4 Billion by taxpayers. They also are the most profitable industry on the planet which gives them unprecedented political influence and a mighty sledge hammer to stall clean energy development.
Amusingly, the paranoid conspirators that deny global warming are the first to accuse environmentalists of being socialist commies. Well, what’s more socialist than American tax payers subsidizing the fossil industry while they fleece our wallets? Perhaps Exxon should be renamed The People’s Oil Company of America!
What do we do about it? The most efficient way to stop addiction to fossil fuels is to impose a carbon tax on them.  Carbon tax legislation has been proposed a few times in congress resulting with the expected kneejerk reaction from the fossil industry, their paranoid harlequins, and fossil financed legislators.
The fossil financed government would have you believe that a carbon tax will ruin our economy, yet Alaska has had a carbon tax, or “dividend”, since 1982. This dividend is paid to Alaska’s citizens for the oil extracted from their state. Alaskan residents living there for at least one calendar year are eligible to receive the dividend. The lowest dividend paid out was $331.29 in 1984 and the highest was $2,069 in 2008.
A big concern is how a carbon tax would be managed. Dr. James Hansen, former Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASSA proposes a fee on carbon at its source - a coal mine or an oil or gas well head. But unlike other proposals he wants the dividend to, “go directly to US citizens as a rebate on their tax bills; not one dime to make the government bigger.” That’s not much different than what has been going on in Alaska for 31 years. This dividend will offset the initial higher energy costs as the industry shifts from dirty carbon to clean energy. 
Hanson’s proposal is better than proposals that direct the dividend into government coffers where the public will probably never get it. An example is the Land &Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) that is also predicated on oil extraction. President Eisenhower initiated it in 1964. A miniscule percentage of off-shore oil drilling revenues amounting to around $900 million a year was to be set aside each year to fund conservation projects in all 50 states.  Well, LWCF was never declared a “dedicated” fund so congress rarely fully funds it. Instead they pilfer it every year to balance the general budget or to finance pork projects.  Even Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) isn’t safe from government pilfering. Alaska’s government is trying to pass bills to take that money to help balance their general budget.
We need a carbon tax to level the playing field between the fossil industry and the clean energy industry. The only proposed plan that will work is a fee/dividend plan. Anything that allows our inept government to get their greedy fingers on the dividend money will never help humanity survive the climate crisis.