Sunset in Santorini, Greece
Throughout the archives of history we see time and time again the fortitude and furiosity with which the human race attacks and solves what seem like insurmountable problems. That same tenacity is required today to combat the greatest challenge mankind has faced as a whole, climate change.
AR5, one of the largest scientific reports ever undertaken, analyzed 9,300 peer-reviewed research papers submitted by scientists from nearly every country in the world. One thing it made clear – climate change is happening now. “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” - NASA
The largest contributor to carbon emissions is the fossil fuel industry – coal, oil and natural gas. This industry singlehandedly produces approximately 2/3 of the pollution driving climate change (DiCaprio). As the population becomes informed people are demanding change. This is happening in spite of the fossil fuel industry’s attempts to confuse the public using similar tactics big tobacco used only a few decades ago. Here’s an article on them attempting to drive out solar energy in Florida.
Someone may ask, “Why does it matter?” Well, unfortunately it does. 75% of all large cities are located on the coast. If global temperatures continue to increase, humanity will suffer more displacement and destruction than all previous wars combined. Stop. Go back and read that last sentence on more time, slowly. Rising temperatures lead to the melting of ancient glaciers, which raise sea levels. Causing flooding, super storms, droughts and other gruesome natural disasters. Miami Mayor, Philip Levine says that the ocean would engulf Florida. Having been born and raised in South Florida this terrifies and motivates me to find a solution.
There is an answer, a revenue neutral Carbon Tax. Driven by a simple economic principle, incentives. A carbon tax would tax carbon emitters and motivate society to move towards a new era of sustainable energy. This does not mean you as an individual have your taxes raised. On the contrary, the international monetary fund estimates that 5.3 trillion dollars worth of carbon is pumped into the atmosphere yearly (IMF). Which means that because of the governments increased revenue due to the carbon tax, we can decrease personal or sales tax. You win and so does the planet. This tax plan has been promoted and endorsed by Harvard Economist Greg Mankiw and the living legend himself, Elon Musk. Here is a breakdown of Musk explaining how it would work.
This revenue neutral carbon tax also has some other fantastic benefits. It creates a level playing field for renewable energy sources like solar, hydro, wind and nuclear. All of which are becoming increasingly cost effective. Miraculously, we receive enough energy from the sun in a little over an hour, 123,000 Terawatts, to power all human activity for a year. Total US yearly electricity consumption per person is 12kilowatts. If we went strictly solar we would require 160,000 square kilometers of solar panels, roughly the size of Wisconsin, which is less than 2% of total US land. This number could be even lowered if paired with other renewables (Wysession).
Another great advantage of moving into the American renewable energy era would be our ability to completely cut all dependence on foreign oil, which in turn would result in less war, less defense spending, and could result in more domestic investment in areas such as education.
Climate change is not only a discussion of politics and economics it is a discussion of ethics, we need to decide what kind of world we want to leave for our children. Call congress, demand a revenue neutral carbon tax, do it for your home, your children and yourselves. I thank you for your time and leave you with a quote. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [and women] do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.
"Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?" NASA. NASA, 06 Dec. 2016. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.
Before The Flood. Dir. Fisher Stevens. Perf. Leonardo DiCaprio. National Geographic, 2016. Before The Flood. Ratpac Documentary Films. Web. <https://www.beforetheflood.com>.
"Factsheet." Climate, Environment, and the IMF. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017
Wysession, Michael. The Science of Energy: Resources and Power Explained. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded, 2016. Print.