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Global warming and a carbon tax

June 02, 2007

Re "Cool and collected," editorial, May 28

Global warming is occurring; it has been doing so for more than 10,000 years. Glaciers melted without cars and coal-fired electric generators. Our oceans shall rise and the climate shall change, but why should we enable a new bureaucracy to give away our freedoms and increase taxes? Paying for carbon emissions gives rich folks a clear conscience so they do not have to defend high energy consumption or private jet use.

Methane is not addressed in the editorial. The United Nations acknowledges that methane emissions from cows cause more global warming than cars. Nor does the editorial mention that each human emits hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

I offer this: Exercise greatly increases the human carbon dioxide output, therefore we need an exercise tax and a new bureaucracy to tax those who exercise. Because it was the Native Americans who were here when the glaciers melted, their heirs should pay for this.


Fountain Valley


Your editorial is a must-read for all educated citizens. I have not seen a more communicative summary of the challenges or a more careful analysis of solutions. It is courageous to call for taxes, and it serves a high educational purpose to succinctly describe the problem and carefully discuss the options.

I may personally disagree with your dismissal of regulatory approaches, but your comparison is very useful.



The writer is coauthor of "Climate Change: What it Means for Us, Our Children and Our Grandchildren" (the MIT Press).


The Times is right that it's time for bold action on climate change. But we disagree strongly with the contention that a tax is the best solution. Along with leaders ranging from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) -- and the chief executives of 21 of the nation's leading companies -- we support a cap on carbon pollution as the best answer for the environment and the economy. Unlike a tax, a cap guarantees the necessary cuts to stabilize the climate. That's because setting the level of a tax is a guessing game (no one knows what level of tax will achieve what level of emissions reductions). Unlike a tax, a cap-and-trade system has proven it can help solve an environmental problem -- acid rain -- quickly and cheaply.

Unlike a tax, cap-and-trade would boost farmers by offering credit for their carbon reductions. And, given that all major climate bills now before Congress are cap-and-trade, a cap offers a politically realistic solution to this urgent problem. A tax is a theory, but a cap gets the job done.



Environmental Defense


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