We need to make climate change a priority
I want to say, in the midst of the unnecessary and relatively absurd current hoopla in Washington, D.C., thanks for your story last week on the IPCC report. It’s another confirmation by the best international scientists of our moment of jeopardy and opportunity.
Yes, the situation is dire. If we’d like to keep our planet recognizable, we have to live within a 1-trillion ton carbon budget. We’ve spent more than half of it already. By 2040, we’ll be “over budget” if we don’t make changes.
But we can do something. Since Congress has failed to respond, the president is stepping up with regulations to limit carbon emissions. It’s a good start, but I’m hoping the United States will follow the lead of France, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and the Republic of Ireland and enact a market-based solution, like a carbon tax. A number of conservatives — Art Laffer, Greg Mankiw, George Shultz — support a revenue-neutral carbon tax to reduce the effects of climate change. A tax on carbon would fix the distortion in the marketplace that leaves fossil fuels unaccountable for the damage they do to society.
Citizens are ready to do more than change lightbulbs. We’re ready to pay modest increases for gas at the pump when we know it’s part of a shared plan to combat the disastrous changes we’re seeing already: bigger wildfires, more destructive floods, more severe droughts, and ocean acidification — which The Times profiled so well in its recent series. And with a revenue-neutral tax, we wouldn’t sacrifice much, since we would receive dividends that would help us redirect our spending toward more efficient systems for getting around and heating our homes.
Mary K. Manous, Seattle