A noted climate scientist told a Wisconsin audience yesterday about his plans for a carbon tax.
James Hansen directs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University. He spends a lot of time tracking the warming of the oceans and rises in sea levels, but also advocates for ways to get large numbers of people and companies to reduce their use of the fossil fuels that lead to carbon dioxide pollution and climate change. Hansen says the best solution is putting a tax on carbon emissions.
"We have put a price on carbon, or we're not going to leave those dirty fossil fuels in the ground. As soon as we have even a moderate price, then tar sands would make no sense whatsoever. They would be left in the ground, and we could leave coal in the ground."
Hansen says all of the money raised by the carbon tax would be returned to taxpayers, with those using less in the way of fossil fuels getting a larger amount back. But some business groups say consumers, employees, and businesses that use a lot of gasoline, coal and other fossil fuels would pay a lot more money at the pump or in their utility bills. The National Association of Manufacturers contends that manufacturing output would drop and wages in some industries would decline.
Hansen says the planet is telling us that we have reached a fork in the road and that carbon emissions must be curbed.
"We can't burn all the fossil fuels without guaranteeing that we screw future generations."
President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to introduce a climate change effort sometime over the next year.