U.S. News


The Call to Tax Carbon

Twelve years ago Hurricane Katrina ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast. This Category 5 storm left 1,833 dead and caused mass destruction. Two years ago residents were still rebuilding from the devastation. Hurricane Katrina’s impact represents just one more natural disaster made more extreme by human-induced climate change.

A fight against climate change, specifically against carbon emissions, is imperative. High levels of human-induced carbon emissions are contributing to Earth’s unnatural rise in temperature at an unprecedented rate. Our current federal policy is not doing enough to prevent climate change and only a handful of states have policies limiting emissions. A countrywide carbon tax on business is the right step forward to create a more green, safe, and prosperous world.

Surprisingly, a carbon tax has bipartisan support and even more support outside of Congress, including several big companies and over 60 percent of Americans. Reasons for its widespread support are clear.

First, a carbon tax will reduce emissions. This is a vital step to healing our environment. A carbon tax will encourage companies to look for energy alternatives to reduce operating costs. A carbon tax will foster new, creative ideas in renewable energy. Breakthroughs in solar, wind, or hydropower are likely.

Second, a carbon tax will make our world safer. Climate change contributes to a multitude of problems. Sea levels and global temperatures are rising, the ocean has become more acidic, and extreme natural events have increased. These problems create risks to public health, water security, and our ecosystems. They endanger our well-being. They are costly. They undermine stability and threaten global security.

Third, a carbon tax will build our economy. A carbon tax would create new jobs by opening up the renewable energy sector, while still working towards our goal of diminished carbon emissions. In the United States, jobs in the renewable energy sector are growing at a rate 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.

Some say a carbon tax will be an unfair burden, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many revenue neutral schemes that could lessen the impact of a tax. Revenue created could be used to cut the corporate income tax, if businesses do not just push costs onto consumers. Or revenues could fund reimbursements for increased electricity costs to Americans through the Social Security program.

Clean-up and reconstruction costs for Hurricane Katrina were upwards of $108 billion dollars. If we do not pledge to reduce our carbon emissions now and adopt a carbon tax, the rising temperatures will create a deluge of expensive, humanitarian crises destabilizing our world. Earth is the only planet we have. We should care to preserve and protect it for future generations. A carbon tax is the right step to create a more green, safe, and prosperous world.