Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tell Barack Obama the Truth – The Whole Truth

Dr. James E. Hansen

Here's an excerpt from Dr. Hansen's latest posting:

"...Tax and 100% dividend. A “carbon tax with 100 percent dividend” is required for
reversing the growth of atmospheric CO2. The tax, applied to oil, gas and coal at the mine or
port of entry, is the fairest and most effective way to reduce emissions and transition to the
post fossil fuel era. It would assure that unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar shale and tar
sands, stay in the ground, unless an economic method of capturing the CO2 is developed.
The entire tax should be returned to the public, equal shares on a per capita basis (half
shares for children up to a maximum of two child-shares per family), deposited monthly in
bank accounts. No bureaucracy is needed.
A tax should be called a tax. The public can understand this and will accept a tax if it is
clearly explained and if 100 percent of the money is returned to the public. Not one dime
should go to Washington for politicians to pick winners. No lobbyists need be employed.
The public will take steps to reduce their emissions because they will continually be
reminded of the matter by the monthly dividend and by rising fossil fuel costs. It must be
clearly explained to the public that the tax rate will continue to increase in the future.
When fuel prices decline, the tax should increase, to retain the incentive for transitioning
to the post-fossil-fuel-era. The effect of reduced fossil fuel demand will be lower fossil fuel
prices, making the tax a larger and larger portion of energy costs (for fossil fuels only). Thus
the country will stop hemorrhaging its wealth to oil-producing states.
Tax and dividend is progressive. A person with several large cars and a large house will
have a tax greatly exceeding the dividend. A family reducing its carbon footprint to less than
average will make money. Everyone will have an incentive to reduce their carbon footprint.
The dividend will stimulate the economy, spur innovation, and provide money that allows
people to purchase low carbon products.
A carbon tax is honest, clear and effective. It will increase energy prices, but low and
middle income people, especially, will find ways to reduce carbon emissions so as to come
out ahead. The rate of infrastructure replacement, thus economic activity, can be modulated
by how fast the carbon tax rate increases. Effects will permeate society. Food requiring lots
of carbon emissions to produce and transport will become more expensive and vice versa,
encouraging support of nearby farms as opposed to imports from half way around the world.
Beware of alternative approaches, such as ‘percent emission reduction goals’ and ‘cap
and trade’. These are subterfuges designed to allow business-as-usual to continue, under a
pretense of action, a greenwashing. Hordes of lobbyists will argue for these approaches,
which assure their continued employment. The ineffectiveness of ‘goals’ and ‘caps’ is made
blatantly obvious by the fact that the countries promoting them are planning to build more
coal-fired power plants.
If the United States accedes to the ineffectual ‘goals’ and ‘caps’ approach, in effect
continuation of the Kyoto Protocol approach, it will practically guarantee disastrous climate
change. Instead it should persuasively argue that other countries also adopt tax and dividend.
The countries agreeing to this approach will also agree that imports from a country that does
not apply a comparable carbon tax will be taxed at the port of entry. That tax, which should
be added to the public’s dividend, will be a strong incentive for all countries to participate..."

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