Pricing Carbon

Today I received an email from the White House regarding the 2015 State of the Union address asking me what I’d like to see accomplished during the Obama administration’s final 2 years in office. I encourage any US citizens reading this to visit the link for themselves, select an issue, and perhaps provide them with some suggestions. Here’s what I sent. Maybe it’ll give you some ideas, maybe you’ll resend it in support to make sure it gets read, or maybe you’ll improve upon it and send it as your own which you are more than welcome to do with anything on this site.

With elections out of the way, the economy on solid footing, and gas prices the lowest they’ve been in a long time I hope the Obama administration, as well as all other administrations and global citizens, will do much more over the next 2 years to address climate change, environmental degradation, and the daily loss of precious biodiversity starting with how he presents these interlinked issues in the 2015 State of the Union address. Addressing climate change, safeguarding the biosphere, and preserving biodiversity are challenges that must unite us as a nation and as a global community of nations.

In his speech I hope that the President helps people in the US and around the world better understand the current and potential consequences of a slight but rapid rise in the earth’s temperature and mentions that regardless of how much humans are responsible for the undeniable rise in global temperatures releasing more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, whether it be from consuming energy or eating meat, will only make matters worse and not just for future generations but for us and especially for our children and grandchildren. So lets start doing things that help ensure humanity stays safe and stop doing things which set it up to be sorry like denying climate change is even an issue and obstructing the legislation needed to combat it.

Speaking of legislation one suggestion I’d like to voice my support for is, as part of a broader carbon tax scheme, setting base prices for fossil fuels, e.g., a gallon of gas. This will allow us to take advantage low oil and natural gas prices to raise revenue to address the health and environmental issues related to the extraction, transportation, and burning of fossil fuels while helping incentivize consumers to conserve and companies to innovate. Where to set the price and what to do with the revenue needs to be debated, however regardless of whether it’s used to invest in clean energy, public transportation, or refunded evenly on a per capita basis the important thing is to disincentivize the burning of fossil fuels.

The power the US has by way of it’s positive example is far greater than any power wielded by it’s military might so I hope in this century, despite the poor start, the US will fully utilize this power for its own good and the good of the world. The US implementing a bold carbon tax scheme is what the world needs right now especially as other nations prepare their own environmental commitments ahead of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference whose outcome will in large part determine what kind of a planet we’ll be leaving to future generations so lets set a good example.