Carbon Tax proposed to Congressional Committee

Three proposals listed in the House Ways & Means Committee report on tax reform call for a carbon tax: Center for American Progress (CAP) plan calls for a price on greenhouse gas emissions (CO2), an oil import fee of $5/barrel and elimination of US tax breaks for fossil fuels. and The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) calls for a tax on carbon at its source, an increase in motor fuel excise tax and elimination of tax preferences for fossil fuel production. The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network Budget for a Millennial America plan calls for an upstream carbon tax starting at $23/T and increasing 5.6% per year.


How to Talk About Climate Change

Climate science is really very simple. There are basically four things to know about it, four answers to all the questions and arguments.   Climate change is happening.   People are causing it.   It is serious.   There are things we can do to reduce the risks.  That’s it.

If you agree with some or all of these statements, then you can tell other people. It is useful to know details, but most important to share reasons that persuaded you.

‘Is it really happening?’ people ask this in many ways. They will suggest that the warming has stopped, or scientists are self-interested or in a conspiracy, or the Antarctic is adding ice. You can answer these comments by saying that that climate change is happening and you are convinced because, just look out the window at the weird weather. Or you may refer to news reports of record-setting high temperatures and extreme weather, or to studies by NASA, the Academies of Science and 99% of climate scientists.

‘Are people causing it?’ That is what people are really asking when they say that it’s just a natural process, or that sunspots, contrails, or volcanoes are the cause, or that nobody knows.  To answer that question, point out the gigantic number of cars, factories, houses, electric plants and airplanes that are burning trillions of tons of coal, oil and natural gas. In a simple lab experiment we can see that burning fuel produces carbon dioxide, and that carbon dioxide heats air. So, what is all that warming gas doing, if not warming the planet.

‘Is it really serious?’ People who don’t know that this is a serious problem may say that we can keep burning fossil fuels for years and years. They may argue that CO2 is not harmful, and that animals will adapt, and that we are alarmists. We can surely say that  it is serious to the million people who have died from extreme weather, accidents, hunger, and illness related to the warming climate. It is serious to the millions who are homeless, and jobless, the victims of floods, droughts, fires, and storm surges and rising oceans. It is serious to the people who will suffer increasing damages to their towns, food supplies, and health for decades more even after we stop burning fossil fuels. The military says that climate change threatens the security of America.  The World Bank talks about cascading economic effects and risk of collapse of efforts to adapt.   The Pope called “on people and nations to recognize the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming…” Climate change is serious.

‘What should we do about it?’ We hear a wide variety of discouraging comments. Instead of countering each one, let’s adopt a clear vision of a path forward. Most citizens are concerned about the climate change and want more green energy. The fossil fuel companies are fighting any reduction in their share of the energy market with powerful lobbying, and media influence.   Still, this is a democracy. More and more citizens telling the facts to their elected representatives have resulted in increased clean energy and energy efficiency in many states and cities. Many local groups are fighting hard to protect their communities from fossil fuel pollution.

We have to change the Congressional gridlock on this issue and get a national policy that promoting  a green economy. If you recycle, walk more, and otherwise reduce your use of electricity and fuel, thank you. If you are active in organizations that promote clean energy and efficiency, thank you again.  Now, make others be equally responsible. Lobby for a carbon tax, for subsidies for green energy and not  fossil fuel, for regulations that require efficient buildings, for low carbon transportation, and increasing purchase of clean energy by the government.

Speak up. Go online and to meetings with Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Reality, Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club or League of Conservation Voters. Millions of voices can create a new safe, healthy and prosperous green energy economy.

House Committee Refuses to Hear Climate Facts

All the Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted against holding hearings on  “the role of climate change in causing drought heat waves, wildfires, reduced crop yields and impaired electricity generation”  on Feb 6, 2013


Denial of the science of climate change by members of Congress is a threat to our safety. Rep Waxman, who is calling for hearings on reports that climate impacts require prompt action said, “House Republicans have buried their heads in the sand.  I hope they will realize how out of step they are with the science, the public, and the business community.  We have a moral duty to act to prevent the worst impacts of climate change affecting our children and future generations.”

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, representing parts of Eastern Washington, joined in the vote against climate hearings.

Tax Our Carbon, Please, Say Most Americans

Two thirds (67%) of Americans would rather Congress tax carbon pollution from oil, coal and natural gas industries instead of cutting spending on education, Social Security, Medicare and environmental protection, according to a recent Melman Group poll. 70% of voters would support a carbon tax if the revenue were used to help solve budget problems and give tax credits to individuals and households.  72% would support it, if the revenue were used to fund clean energy jobs and programs that help deal with the effects of climate change.

Let’s send thanks to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for supporting S.7, the Extreme Weather Prevention and Resilience Act and ask them and our    Representatives in Congress to make passage of a carbon tax a top priority.

Climate warming emissions from oil, coal and natural gas contributed to over $100 billion in extreme weather damages to America last year. A tax on carbon will make fossil fuel companies responsible for some of these damages and allow clean renewable energy industries to revive our economy and protect our environment.

U.S. Voters Favor Carbon Tax

Prices Should Include the Full Costs of Production

Ever feel like all your efforts to lower your carbon footprint are just not solving the climate problem? Bret Weinstein, agrees, it is not enough, in a TEDX talk on the “Personal Responsibility Vortex,

Our society lets corporations make money without taking responsibility for covering all their costs. As long as they can dump garbage, pollute air, land and water with toxics, waste resources, and overheat the climate without having to pay for these costs and damages, they will do it.

We expect businesses to add value to our society by creating products or processes that are helpful. However, many businesses do only what is in their own interest, regardless of the cost to society. Since these self-interested businesses tend be more competitive, they gradually push the beneficial businesses to focus more on short-term profit and the system evolves toward ruthlessness. Since the economy spills over into politics, the dynamic also concentrates wealth and power in people who are then able to veto any attempt to change the status quo.

We need to do two things, first require that all businesses engage in full cost accounting, putting every cost, every damage, every external consequence of production on public balance sheets. Then, require businesses to include all those costs in the prices of their products.

For individuals to choose low carbon options without working to change the system, feeds the vortex.

Weinstein suggests that if the founding fathers had been able to look into the future and see the mountaintop removal, deep sea drilling and high line logging, they would have put sustainability into the bill of rights.

We need to direct our efforts to “collective action that can restructure incentives that surround the market” and change the system.

Carbon Fee and Dividend to Spur Innovation and Jobs

Bill McKibben’s Letter 12/13/2012, excerpts:   “We need a simple honest flat across-the- board fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels, collected from fossil fuel companies at the domestic mine or port of entry, the fee gradually rising over time, the funds distributed 100 percent to the public, equal amounts to all legal residents, not one dime to the government, no enlargement of government. Such a “fee-and-dividend” system would cause fossil fuel CO2 emissions to rapidly decline, most coal and unconventional fossil fuels would be left in the ground. For example, economic modeling for the U.S. shows that a $10/tonCO2 fee, rising $10 each year, would reduce emissions 30 percent after a decade,…

“We have tremendous potential for innovation that will be spurred once there is a rising carbon price. New products, more jobs. As the carbon price rises, tipping points will be reached where low-carbon or no-carbon alternatives phase in rapidly, leaving fossil fuels in the ground….

“We need building standards, we should not produce electronic goods that draw energy even when not in use, etc. Such things will be easier to achieve, and partly self-enforced, by an underlying steadily rising carbon price….

“Only a few nations need agree on a carbon fee. They will place a border duty on products from countries that do not have an equivalent carbon fee. …This approach provides a tremendous incentive for other nations to adopt a similar domestic carbon fee, so they can collect it themselves rather than lose it as a border duty…”

Citizens Climate Lobby helps citizens lobby for national carbon fee and dividend legislation because it “will put us on the path of a sustainable climate by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning us to a clean energy economy.” Check out their introductory call every Wednesday.

Wake-up call duly noted. Now what?

Extreme climate predictions most accurate, report finds, according to a Seattle Times/Washington Post article “ The world could be in for an increase of some 8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, resulting in drastically higher seas, disappearing coastlines and more severe droughts, floods and other destructive weather.  Such an increase would substantially overshoot what the world’s leaders have identified as the threshold for triggering catastrophic consequences.”


Ok, so, what do we do? Personally, live a lower carbon lifestyle – dance more, drive less, plant more, purchase less, insulate your home, wear sweaters, vacation near home, skype your distant friends & family, and lobby for policy solutions.. Locally, get institutions to invest in green energy instead of fossil fuels, (see and install energy saving technology, tell your friends and neighbors what you are doing and invite them to informational events. Nationally, lobby for a carbon tax and rebate (see Citizens Climate Lobby), for an end to subsidies for fossil fuels, against oil pipelines and natural gas fracking, and for increased government incentives for investment in solar, wind, water, geothermal, wave, and tidal energy, efficiency technology, smart grid, electric vehicles and batteries.
A green energy economy is possible. The Jacobson and Delucchi plan,, explains how investment in solar, wind, water, geothermal, wave, and tidal energy, combined with energy reducing technology, smart grid, electric vehicles and batteries can supply most our needs. They suggest replacing all new energy with these by 2030, and replacing pre-existing energy by 2050, resulting in consumer costs similar to what we are spending today.
The energy from burning oil, coal and natural gas allowed us to build a civilization, with research facilities, and communication devices that allow us to make a transition to safe, affordable clean energy. Those who are afraid that sustainability will not help the economy are misinformed. It is precisely to save our loading docks, airports, highway system, computer capabilities, and the health of people who run this infrastructure that we need to stop investing money in last century’s fossil fuel energy and build American energy industries that will free us from the monopoly of fossil fuels and also save our mountains, trees, agriculture, water supplies and shorelines.