Implement a carbon tax before it is too late
A carbon tax is a revenue neutral fee and dividend that represents the most effective way of weaning our country away from fossil fuel. A 2-3 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature over this century would be disastrous for life on earth. Dr. James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies is one of the leading climatologists researching the link between fossil fuel emissions, increasing Co2 and a changing climate. According to Dr. Hansen, the window of opportunity to begin slowing down the rate of temperature increases is beginning to close due to the phenomenon of positive feedback. Co2 levels were measured at 393 PPM as of June,2011. Dr. Hansen, through his research, has estimated that a level of 350 PPM is needed for long term sustainability for the human race. Unlike a complex cap and trade system, a carbon tax is simple to implement and monitor. The tax is assessed at the point of extraction or port of entry for the three main types of fossil fuels - oil, gas and coal. The tax rate would be adjusted based on the amount of Co2 released during combustion. These amounts are known precisely by scientists. Once collected, the entire amount would be refunded back to the American consumer through payroll deductions or direct deposit. The tax would be the most effective way to level the playing field for renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal. These alternative energies do not currently make up a significant portion of the U.S. energy infrastructure because they have traditionally been more expensive compared to cheaper oil. One of the main reasons why oil, gas and coal are still a bargain is because the true costs of these fuels are not included in the price consumers pay at the pump. The fossil fuel industry has profited so well over the past hundred years because they have never had to account for external costs such as water and air pollution, ocean acidification, health effects from smog and other social and environmental costs that arise from the use of their products. This transfer of cost to the public represents the most massive public subsidy ever given to an industry in the history of this country.
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