Los Angeles Times Calls for Carbon Tax

Ithas become increasingly rare for many newspapers to review a topic in depth, and provide real background as opposed to limiting discussion to the day’s headline. The Los Angeles Times has an excellent review of proposed plans to deal with climate change, but first outlines the problem:

IF YOU HAVE KIDS, take them to the beach. They should enjoy it while it lasts, because there’s a chance that within their lifetimes California’s beaches will vanish under the waves.

Global warming will redraw the maps of the world. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that sea levels will rise 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century; as the water gets higher, the sandy beaches that make California a tourist magnet will be washed away. Beachfront real estate will end up underwater, cliffs will erode faster, sea walls will buckle and inlets will become bays. The water supply will be threatened as mountain snowfall turns to rain and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta faces contamination with saltwater. Droughts will likely become more common, as will the wildfires they breed.

Global warming is happening and will accelerate regardless of what we do today, but the scenarios of climatologists’ nightmares can still be avoided. Though the cost will be high, it pales in comparison to the cost of doing nothing.

The article looks at various solutions and, as does Al Gore, ultimately supports the carbon tax:

There is a growing consensus among economists around the world that a carbon tax is the best way to combat global warming, and there are prominent backers across the political spectrum, from N. Gregory Mankiw, former chairman of the Bush administration’s Council on Economic Advisors, and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to former Vice President Al Gore and Sierra Club head Carl Pope. Yet the political consensus is going in a very different direction. European leaders are pushing hard for the United States and other countries to join their failed carbon-trading scheme, and there are no fewer than five bills before Congress that would impose a federal cap-and-trade system. On the other side, there is just one lonely bill in the House, from Rep. Pete Stark (D-Fremont), to impose a carbon tax, and it’s not expected to go far.

The obvious reason is that, for voters, taxes are radioactive, while carbon trading sounds like something that just affects utilities and big corporations. The many green politicians stumping for cap-and-trade seldom point out that such a system would result in higher and less predictable power bills. Ironically, even though a carbon tax could cost voters less, cap-and-trade is being sold as the more consumer-friendly approach.

A well-designed, well-monitored carbon-trading scheme could deeply reduce greenhouse gases with less economic damage than pure regulation. But it’s not the best way, and it is so complex that it would probably take many years to iron out all the wrinkles. Voters might well embrace carbon taxes if political leaders were more honest about the comparative costs.

The world is under a deadline. Some scientists believe that once atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have doubled from the pre-industrial level, which may happen by mid-century if no action is taken, the damage may be irreversible.

Be Sociable, Share!

1 Comment

  1. 1
    Dan says:

    Voters will embrace carbon taxes when their political leaders are more honest about the comparative costs of carbon taxes as opposed to cap-and-trade, command and control or doing nothing. We can expect political leaders to show more leadership and be more honest about the alternatives when other newspapers, TV and radio news follow the lead of the LA Times and provide honest news coverage that carefully examines the rhetoric of cap-and-trade supporters. To learn about the revenue neutral carbon tax proposed by the Carbon Tax Center, please check out our web site.

Leave a comment