There are increasing calls for a “carbon tax,” a tax on fossil fuels, to prevent the increase of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and save us from the perils of global warming.
The purpose of a carbon tax is to reduce use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), although how it would do so is not completely clear. One popular approach is to collect a tax on fossil fuels, and then rebate the tax to U.S. households.
The Citizens Climate Lobby believes “a majority of Americans will actually come out ahead under this plan with more money coming in from the dividend than they will pay out in increased costs.” If a majority of U.S. voters will get more money out of the tax than they pay, wouldn’t that encourage them to support more fossil fuel usage, to get more taxes rebated to them?
Government loves carbon taxes because they represent another revenue-generating program to staff and run. But many energy corporations like them too. In a world where they are often blamed for selling a product that is essential to modern civilization, a carbon tax, which can be passed on to consumers, is a solution that works. And if the idea is to move people to renewables, like wind and solar? Hey, the major companies have subsidiaries selling renewables, too.
If the goal of a carbon tax is to reduce fossil fuel use, then some replacement must be found, or we must make do with less energy. Nuclear energy would be a good compromise, but that is a nonstarter with most environmentalists. Until huge advances are made in energy storage (like batteries), we can’t rely on solar and wind for more than a fraction of our electrical demand.
During cold periods like January’s polar vortex, we would have been very cold and in the dark without reliable fossil-fueled energy on nights with little or no wind.
If the goal is to make do with less energy, we would be altering our lifestyles by doing more than turning down the thermostat a degree or two. We’ve been told that we should reduce drastically, to “zero net [man-made] emissions well before 2040” to avoid the worst effects of global warming. That is a huge reduction.
What will you give up to make sure we meet that goal?
A carbon tax would have to be extremely high to force us to make that drastic a change in our lives. Of course, not everyone will be affected to the same degree. Those with money will always find ways to keep their houses warm, take trips in their cars and live a life with the conveniences we’ve come to expect.
It’s the poor, in this country and around the world, who will be unable to afford the high taxes, and have to do without.
A carbon tax is seen as a cure for the perceived dangers of global warming. Let’s take an honest look at the cost of the medicine, which may be far worse than the illness.