Over the past two months I have posted several blogs about the seriousness of global warming and demonstrated that the best way to address it is with a carbon tax of about $20 per ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Here is a summary of my argument:
- The reality of global warming can hardly be questioned. For example, the extent of summer ice in the arctic ocean is shrinking rapidly.
- Expecting the Environmental Protection Agency to be able to administer an effective program by giving each state a target for CO2 emissions reductions is cumbersome and arbitrary.
- The current EPA program of trying to reduce carbon emissions by 30% over the next 15 years will set up an economic incentive to substitute natural gas for coal and slow down the further development of nuclear energy and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. This is because natural gas is plentiful and inexpensive. But the burning of natural gas still releases half as much CO2 as coal and so will continue to contribute to global warming.
In yesterday’s New York Times, the reporter Eduardo Porter in “China’s Hurdle to Fast Action on Carbon” calculates that even under conservative growth assumptions, China will almost double its carbon emissions between now and 2040. And this doesn’t even consider all of the other developing nations which also will increase their use of inexpensive energy sources in order to increase their standards of living.
In other words, even if the EPA is able to force a big switch from coal to natural gas in the U.S., any such reduction in carbon emissions will be dwarfed by increases from other countries.
A carbon tax on CO2 emissions will not only give a big boost to all non-fossil fuels, it will also unleash American ingenuity to figure out how to accomplish carbon sequestration in the use of fossil fuels. This will enable the U.S. to achieve a much greater reduction than 30% in carbon emissions over the next 15 years and beyond. Furthermore the new technology which we develop to do this will be immediately available for use around the world.
With such a program the U.S. would actually be demonstrating how to effectively attack global warming instead of just advocating for it!