Friday, May 11, 2012

"If this sounds apocalyptic, it is." - problem and solutions from James Hansen in NY Times, and solution from senators

Yesterday's New York Times has an op-ed from climatologist James Hansen on the problem and solutions, Game Over for the Climate; and Senators Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison have introduced a bill, the End Polluter Welfare Act, that's part of the solution.
Hansen lays out the consequences of ignoring global warming:
... near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.
He points out that action is a no-brainer, that a fee-and-dividend policy works for everyone (except the heaviest polluters and the fossil fuel industries):
We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month. The government would not get a penny. This market-based approach would stimulate innovation, jobs and economic growth, avoid enlarging government or having it pick winners or losers. Most Americans, except the heaviest energy users, would get more back than they paid in increased prices. Not only that, the reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada, rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by a slowly rising carbon price.
But instead, right now we're still subsidizing fossil fuels:
...the world’s governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
But a new bill proposes to stop paying them what terms "a performance bonus for wrecking the climate":
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison launched a new piece of legislation [the End Polluter Welfare Act (pdf)] that would repeal $113 billion of tax-breaks, handouts, and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the next 10 years. Not only is fossil fuel the richest industry on earth, but any of us who pay taxes write it a hefty check each year. ...

1 comment:

gzaller said...

This is an encouraging and interesting TED talk by Amory Lovins on how this could work: