If you’re not living under a rock or currently being brainwashed by the conservative media, you’ve read that report about the very real, very tangible, and very bad effects of climate change and that they will be at our doorstep sooner than we thought—in the next 20 years or so.
That’s a departure from the detached “think of the world you're leaving for your children’s children” argument that was the rallying point to make people environmentally conscious global citizens. Or it was until a little over a week ago. With this new information, we will be experiencing the impacts of climate change well within our lifetime, between 2030 and 2052.
That’s what The Daily, the New York Times’s political podcast discusses today. It’s a great 30-minute lesson that explains the who, what, when, where, and why of this report and what can be done. And what needs to be done? The only thing that will stave off imminent death, according to The Daily and William Nordhaus, Yale professor and economics Nobel Prize winner, is a carbon tax.
Essentially, we’ve been strategizing our response to mitigate the end of the world based on how much the earth is warming. Seems obvious. But, we’ve been focusing on preventing the earth from warming two whole degrees, ‘cause that’s when shit hits the fan. Except smaller island nations are already seeing climate change effects like rising sea levels and increased drought. They asked “What happens halfway, what happens when we hit 1.5 degrees?” So, scientists set to work in 2015. They came back and basically said, “Shit. Things at 1.5 degrees warmer look a lot like what we expect 2 degrees warmer to look like.”
Long story short, we’re fucked and the only thing that can save us is effective policy. But the only effective policy is a carbon tax because it will de-incentivize consumers from using carbon dioxide products and will de-incentivize producers from producing carbon dioxide. It will, on the other hand, incentivize alternatives and money will flow in all directions toward clean energy solutions. In an ideal world.
“In the U.S. [this kind of policy] is absolutely DOA,” the podcasters said. Dead on arrival? Bitch, we’ve got one of these policies in the work in Washington state and it is very much alive.
Throughout the 30 minutes, there is no discussion of Initiative 1631, a ballot measure in Washington that would implement a carbon fee on the state’s biggest carbon producers. It’s not a tax, sure, but it does the same thing. It makes polluters pay $15 per metric ton of carbon emitted and it will raise gas prices. But, the fee aspect makes sure the money from measure flows in the right direction. It will go toward clean air, energy, and water, as well as to keeping forests healthy and making sure vulnerable communities aren’t hit harder by price increases.
It seems like 1631 is the dream, but why isn’t the New York Times talking about it?
“I think, honestly, there’s just so much going on that we have not gotten a ton of breakthrough on the national level right now,” Nick Abraham with 1631 said, “It’s definitely more an oversight than an omission.”
The Daily podcast ends with Nordhaus, the pioneer of the carbon tax, saying that he expects this to be a campaign point in 2020.
“Candidates will be running on this platform and voters will need to vote on it,” is the last sentiment of the podcast.
In Washington, this is on ballots now and voters will be voting on it right here, in three weeks, in 2018. If this passes, what’s to say it won’t spread to other states? Washington has long been a pioneer in social issues. We’ve been consistently ahead of the curve—a real trendsetter—when it comes to marijuana legalization and gay marriage. What’s to say we can’t do it again, but this time with a carbon fee?