America’s carbon compromise

Discussion in 'Environment' started by Trakar, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. Trakar
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    Trakar VIP Member

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    Nature, the leading Science journal, has begun advocating for a Carbon Tax.
    (BRAVO! When the evidence is compelling, advocacy of action, in accord with that evidence, which addresses that issue, is both commendable and the only ethically sound position to hold!)
    http://www.nature.com/news/america-s-carbon-compromise-1.11793
    Nature | Editorial
    America’s carbon compromise
    As looming tax increases and budget cuts threaten to plunge the US economy back into recession, Congress should take a hard look at introducing a carbon tax as an important part of the solution.
    13 November 2012 Corrected: 22 November 2012

    This week, a reinvigorated Barack Obama returned to the White House knowing that he was poised on the edge of a fiscal cliff. Rather than relishing his victory last week, Obama must immediately set about crafting a compromise on deficit reduction with congressional leaders. The stakes could hardly be higher — for science, for US citizens and, indeed, for the world. In the event of failure, a budgetary time-bomb of tax increases and sweeping budget cuts will detonate on 2 January. As well as resulting in indiscriminate cuts to funds for scientific research and many other areas, it could knock the United States back into recession and deliver yet another blow to an already fragile global economy.
    Faced with such dire consequences, one might expect that all the financial options would be on the table, especially the good ones. Unfortunately, this is not the case, at least not yet.
    So far, lawmakers have rehashed long-standing disputes about the size of government and the social safety net, but have ignored ideas that could transform the fiscal challenge into an opportunity. One such proposal is the carbon tax, which could bring financial and political benefits for all and chart a new course forward for energy independence and global warming (see page 309). It is a solution that is every bit as improbable as it is logical, but one should remember Winston Churchill’s assessment of the United States’ tendency to do the right thing — once all the alternatives have been exhausted.
    Just consider the possibilities. To put a levy on carbon would raise revenues that could be used to offset lower tax rates for individuals and businesses. This is what conservatives say they want to do. It would put more income — and thus choice — in the hands of consumers. Economists like the idea for more fundamental reasons. Generally, it is best to tax things that one wishes to discourage (such as smoking) rather than those that should be encouraged (such as working). Environmentalists like the idea of a carbon tax because it could generate some much-needed revenue for clean-energy research and development while reducing carbon emissions.
    The numbers are not negligible. An analysis conducted in August by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge showed that a carbon tax of US$20 per tonne of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, if instituted in 2013 and increased by 4% per year, would raise $1.5 trillion over the course of a decade. Averaged out, this amounts to $150 billion annually — a sizeable chunk of the trillion-dollar deficits that the US government has been running in recent years. Scholars at the Brookings Institution, a centrist think tank in Washington DC, advocate ramping federal investments in energy research up from $3.8 billion now to $30 billion annually, to drive down the cost of low-carbon energy (including cleaner-burning coal). It is an ambitious proposal, and would leave a pile of cash that could be redistributed elsewhere for beneficial use.
    “A carbon tax would depend on political courage and a break with party orthodoxy.”
    Conservatives loathe taxes, and US politicians obsess over energy prices, but a revenue-neutral carbon tax would get around these problems. The MIT analysis found that the economy benefited regardless of whether the money was reinvested in social programmes or redistributed in the form of lower taxes and cash payments to offset higher energy costs for the poor. For environmentalists, the problem with a carbon tax is that it does not technically limit emissions, but the MIT model suggests that it would perform quite well: carbon emissions fall to 14% below 2006 levels by 2020 as consumers and businesses find ways to reduce their energy use in response to higher prices.
    Opposition to the idea may not be what it was. For example, on 13 November, the American Enterprise Institute hosted a conference in Washington DC on the economics of a carbon tax. The institute is a conservative think tank, and its officials have previously raised doubts about climate science. The idea has also been bubbling up in other right-leaning think tanks as a conservative solution to reduce greenhouse gases.
    The problem is that to enact a carbon tax would depend on political courage and a willingness to break with party orthodoxy, rare traits in Washington today. President Obama has made energy and climate part of his agenda for the second term, but his first — and perhaps biggest — opportunity to make good on that promise will come in the next few weeks. As US politicians contemplate diving into the fiscal abyss, they would be wise to consider a painless policy that benefits everyone.
    Nature491,301(15 November 2012)doi:10.1038/491301a


    I, personally, prefer a slightly higher initial tax-rate increasing incrementally over the next 3-4 decades, and then a 100% ban upon the use of sequestered carbon in a manner that causes it to be released into the active carbon cycle of our planet,…this does not mean the banning of all ICEs, merely that the fuels for such systems won’t involve tapping into geologic reservoirs of organic/inorganic feedstock for those fuels.
     
  2. Old Rocks
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    A carbon tax would be a good start to switching the economy to energy that does not enganger the future for all of us. The question, at present, do we have time for limited measures such as this? And will the major energy corperations allow even such limited measures?

    Still waiting to hear from the scientists that are keeping track of the Arctic Ocean Clathrate emissions.
     
  3. Old Rocks
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    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/4/044035/pdf/1748-9326_7_4_044035.pdf

    Abstract
    We analyse global temperature and sea-level data for the past few decades and compare them to projections published in the third and fourth assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The results show that global temperature continues to increase in good agreement with the best estimates of the IPCC, especially if we account for the effects of short-term variability due to the El Ni˜no/Southern Oscillation, volcanic activity and solar variability. The rate of sea-level rise of the past few decades, on the other hand, is greater than projected by the IPCC models. This suggests that IPCC sea-level projections for the future may also be biased low.
     
  4. westwall
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    westwall USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    A carbon tax is a great way to steal money from those who can't afford it and give it to wasteful governments and scurillous compnaies like Goldman Sachs and the various oil companies.

    But, amazingly enough it doesn't actually address pollution in the slightest. Typical for anti scientific political hacks.
     
  5. Trakar
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    Serious concerns all, and while I fear that the response to too many of these concerns is probably negative, especially given that we are already seeing and experiencing consequences at an accelerating pace and scale. Action, however, like the stimulus which triggers it, requires momentum to sustain it. Acting substantively and with focus will help to make further future actions easier to accept and implement.
     
  6. Trakar
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    Trakar VIP Member

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    That sounds quite typical. Published and mainstream science is by necessity extremely conservative and risk adverse in its assessments, it is the nature of the beast. As the evidence mounts and the understandings increase, the past status quo is flogged into accordance with what the evidence indicates.
     
  7. Mr. H.
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    Instead of carbon capture, we resort to carbon-dollar capture?

    How pathetic. And typical.

    Rather than approach the issue from an economic risk-reward study, we simply tax production in an effort to cease production. To the benefit of subsidizing an otherwise non-economic endeavor.

    You folks take the cake.

    Kill the goose rather than cure her ills, thereby enabling more golden eggs. Take the meager profits from the death of the goose and invest them in magic beans.

    Grow the fuck up.
     
  8. Mr. H.
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    Carbon-dollar capture... the best of both worlds. Kill the carbon while rendering a dollar to the benefit of uneconomic non- carbon energy production. Why? Because it's not carbon!
     
  9. Mr. H.
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    Liberals have spent Trillions in tax dollars contributed by the economy-makers in an effort to correct societal ills, yet they still cannot tame one of the most elemental particles in the universe... the carbon atom.

    Why tame it, when you can tax it?
     
  10. Trakar
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    Trakar VIP Member

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    There are always those who can twist and distort good measures and intentions into selfish corruptions and illicit profits, that is what legislation, regulation and the civil/criminal justice systems exist to service.

    Beyond that, I'm not sure what to make of your apparent assertion that the pre-imminent leaders and overwhelming majority of primary institutions of science, as well as the overwhelming body of educated, trained, and employed scientists, are actually "anti scientific political hacks." Such seems neither supported by the predominance of available evidence, nor, at first blush, rational.
     

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