Climate Change's False Peak
I avidly climb mountains. I love throwing my body against the harsh slopes of the Rocky Mountains of my home state. Waking up at first light to embark upon the physically demanding mission of a summit trek will make your senses come alive. As you climb, buying each vertical foot with your sweat and tears, multiple false peaks are bound to appear.
False peaks imitate the true summit, but in fact are only a topographical oddity revealed in short order. Crossing the false peak only brings the true peak closer.
Fighting against climate change is fairly similar. Our peak is 350 ppm of atmospheric carbon and it will take a lot of sweat and tears to get there. It is imperative that we prepare for the false peaks. Congress and Obama are quite interested to pass some type of climate legislation, but even if such a controversial bill can find passage, fixing the climate change problem will still depend on a mammoth effort to reshape our infrastructure.
Washington has floated two main ideas on reducing carbon pollution. Both involve setting a price on carbon: one via a simple tax, the other via cap-and-trade. The first step to a climate change solution needs to be setting a price for pollution.
The easiest way for government to regulate carbon is a flat tax on all polluting sources. Power plants, hospitals, manufacturers and anyone else with a smokestack could be charged per ton of carbon dioxide produced. It would be quick to set up and hard to game. But it is not a political winner.Continued on the next page