We sometimes hear those on the “Right” say that human-caused climate change is a hoax orchestrated by some of those on the “Left” to gain money and power.
Do some on the Left believe the same thing?
In other words, do they think that global warming is not all that serious a problem but one that they can use for their own purposes?
It is hard to find any other explanation for the lack of support and even outright resistance some major environmental groups have given to Dr. James Hansen’s proposal to use carbon fee-and-dividend to help control human-caused climate change.
Unlike some the leadership of those certain major environmental groups, Hansen actually is a climate scientist. He has seen where the data leads and, from all accounts, it terrifies him.
Carbon fee-and-dividend means charging a fee on fossil fuels, similar to a carbon tax. Unlike a tax, however, all the money collected would be returned to people as equal dividends.
It might be called the Mary Poppins approach: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
Hansen feels that if we are to save our civilization and possibly even ourselves from destruction, then carbon fee-and-dividend must be part of the solution. It wouldn’t be the whole solution, of course, but without it the other solutions won’t be adequate.
Unfortunately, it appears that too many of those setting the program for dealing with climate change have brought their own agendas to the table.
The socialists think the climate crisis is a good opportunity to get rid of capitalism. The free marketeers say let the market decide, and advocate for cap-and-trade. Those who like big government push for more regulations banning this or that.
Everyone seems to have his or her pet solution but often they give little thought to whether those solutions will work.
We have known about human-caused climate change for many decades but, because of unnecessary delays, it is almost certainly already too late to avoid major dislocations as a result of it.
Back in 2007 Hansen proposed in a paper that 350 parts per million would be the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
In March of last year the global CO2 level passed 400 ppm and continues to rise rapidly.
This is the highest it has been for millions of years and is far outside the range of variation normally seen between ice ages, for instance.
If human civilization is going to survive this crisis there are certain hoops we are going to go through.
We are going to have to put a price on carbon dioxide, and the best way to do that would be through carbon fee-and-dividend.
In order to be effective, that carbon fee-and-dividend is going to have to be global.
Hansen thinks the best way to do this would be for “any two out of three” of United States, Europe and/or China to adopt carbon fee-and-dividend. The adopters then would be in a position to force the rest of the world to adopt through trade sanctions.
Your editor thinks a better approach would be a worldwide referendum on the question.
However we get there, global carbon fee-and-dividend would imply a bigger role for the United Nations, which would in turn require major reforms to that organization – starting with a UN Parliamentary Assembly.
That would give us a good start towards controlling how much CO2 we put in the atmosphere.
We likely would still need some forms of geo-engineering to reduce global warming and draw CO2 out of the air.
And we still would need to deal with other concerns such as nuclear proliferation, global pollution, resource depletion and so on – but the tools we develop to deal with human-caused climate change would be useful in dealing with those other concerns.