Letters to the Editor

Letter: Best solution

April 30, 2014


To the editor:

I was manning the Citizen’s Climate Lobby table at Earth Day in the park recently and I was asked an interesting question, interesting in the sense that I had not heard it before, and I did not immediately know an answer.

“Isn’t the dividend part of carbon tax and dividend just a political ploy?”

My answer was something to the effect that, well, no one would be in favor of it if the government got to keep the money. The man who asked the question acted as though I had confirmed it is only a political ploy, but I’m wondering what he thinks a better solution is. Unless you think you know more than the vast majority of researchers studying the issue over the last 100 years, you should admit we have a problem.

We can deal with that problem by pretending it doesn’t exist, we can write a lot of regulations intended to reduce CO2 production, or we can tax the carbon in fossil fuels.  If we tax carbon, even Jim Hansen suggests (in recent testimony to Congress) that conservatives should introduce the legislation in order to keep liberals from keeping the money.

I’m willing to accept that the problem exists, I’m not a big fan of regulations, and I really don’t want to give the government any more money. So, a carbon tax and dividend is the best solution I know. If anyone knows of a better one, I’d be interested to hear about it.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

A carbon tax could come loaded with loopholes to protect the giant industrial polluters. It is this minority creating a large part of the problem. Coal power is definitely among the giants.

The oil industry is among these not only with the polluting fuel we use but also with the wide variety of toxic chemicals that which are applied to our zillions of landscapes across America. Let's do away with massive applications of petrochemicals.

Among those giant polluters are the vehicles we drive. Don't expect help for the majority. Therefore we majority must take on means to reduce our share considerably. We consumers know how to reduce our impacts such as walking,cycling,Public Transit,carpooling, relocating closer to employment and such. In addition to more fuel efficient vehicles not to forget these vehicles also pollute.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 10 months ago

Any solution could be diluted by introducing loopholes, Richard, including regulations that restrict carbon emissions and pollution, including increased mileage standards for vehicles, etc. Economists across the board say that a carbon fee and dividend program would be the cheapest, most efficient way to reduce carbon emissions out there, and it's up to people to pressure legislators to come up with a system that isn't full of those loopholes you're worried about.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

We have the practical solutions and technologies at hand to substantially reduce our emissions, create a clean energy economy, and establish the United States as a global leader in innovation.

To accomplish it, we must:

-- Demand action from our elected leaders

-- Take simple, practical steps to reduce our personal carbon emissions

-- Aggressively fight misinformation about global warming

-- Prepare our cities and communities for the growing impacts of climate change

Working together, we can do it — and you can help make it happen. Take action today!



Ken Lassman 3 years, 10 months ago

Good question, especially because deforestation is a significant contributor to the problem.Unfortunately you can't plant enough plants to offset the amount of carbon that is dug up and released through the combustion of fossil fuels. According to the best accounting available (see globalcarbonproject.org), human activity released almost 10 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year. Less than 1 Gt of that was from deforestation, with the lion's share coming from fossil fuels: coal, oil, natural gas. Plants and the land absorb about 2.6 Gigatonnes, and the oceans absorb about the same amount, leaving more than 4 Gigatonnes of CO2 added to the atmosphere each year. It is a great idea to plant as many CO2 absorbing plants as is possible, but twice as many plants on our planet is not enough to stop the rise altogether. It really requires switching away from fossil fuels and/or cutting out the waste so we don't need to use as much. In other words, it's not an either or situation, rather it's a both and situation: plant more plants AND cut back on waste AND switch to alternatives.

Chris Golledge 3 years, 10 months ago

Ken is correct, but I'll add that plants are already growing pretty much everywhere they can grow. Also, while there are agricultural practices which can cause some of the carbon they collect to be sequestered in the soil, for the most part, the carbon absorbed by plants is released after they die and either rot or are digested.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 10 months ago

No, it wouldn't because for one thing most of us live in apartments where there is no place to plant anything. I would suggest carbon dioxide scrubbers. The problem is now so huge and so pervasive that the response must also be.There are billions of people on earth with their wants and needs that must be satisfied one way or the other.

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 10 months ago

I prefer the "man made climate change doesn't exist" model because it doesn't.

Chris Golledge 3 years, 10 months ago

Oh, was John Tyndall wrong when he discovered that CO2 interfers with the transmission of infrared? It is odd that no one has shown this to be incorrect since he made the discovery in 1859.

Let us know when are willing to have a rational discussion. You know, where information can actually change your mind.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 10 months ago

As usual, you are entitled to your opinion, Scott, and in the future please add that you are not interested in hearing evidence to the contrary and will summarily dismiss all attempts to provide you with reliable information contrary to your opinion. This will save others much time and effort.

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 10 months ago

What you call evidence I call incomplete nonsense. What you accept as fact, I question the motives, evidentiary models, and information input to those models. I accept the contradictory statements of scientists from the same fields of endeavor and in the future I will post comments as I please without consideration of your editorial input.

Seth Peterson 3 years, 10 months ago

Nice self reflexive argument based. "It doesn't exist, because it doesn't"

Ken Lassman 3 years, 10 months ago

Exactly, Seth. In an earlier discussion, I asked Scott what kind of evidence would change his mind and his response was there was no such thing.

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 10 months ago

Every scientist that has been quoted to question man made climate change gets shouted down by the opposition. Therefore I find it just as effective to sit here and say, "Man made climate change is a myth created by the wealth redistributionists of the world." I'm not going to engage in personal attacks. I'm not going to waste my breath defending it to a group that hold up bad science as a model and then tell me I'm delusional. So if my argument is self reflexive, too bad.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I hold their evidence to the same standards as I do the scientists who conclude that climate change is happening. There are uncertainties in the climate modeling, in the degree to which various factors come into play in the dynamics of climate change, etc. and there is room for those kinds of discussions. I've invited you to explore those issues and you've refused, preferring to question the motives of the entire scientific community instead. In other words, the personal attacks are coming from you, are clearly unsubstantiated and therefore accurately characterized as personal opinion and nothing more.

In order to engage in a reasoned dialogue that I know you are capable of, you must show the kind of evidence you would be convinced by, which you are unwilling to do. I have already stated the kind of evidence that would convince me that climate change is not taking place: a more compelling explanation that better describes the data being collected across the planet, ranging from decreased sea ice, increasing sea levels, increasing sea water acidification, more frequent and extreme weather events, polar migration of various plants and animals, increasing global sea surface and deeper ocean temperatures, thawing permafrost, shrinking antarctic and arctic ice mass, shrinking glacial mass, etc. Clearly show me either a) that all of these data are incorrect and why, b) show me how there is a better explanation than the well documented effect of greenhouse gases on these data, and I'll concur with your sources. Now, what are your criteria for accepting the possibility that humanity's activities are changing the chemistry of the atmosphere, which is leading to climate change?

George Lippencott 3 years, 10 months ago

I do not wish to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change. I do challenge the political argument that only a direct tax on carbon will address it.

The proposed tax is punitive – punishing people for using carbon when they have done nothing wrong and failing to acknowledge that correcting dependency on carbon is neither a local problem nor a trivial one.

We need a national solution that focuses our collective resources on our worst problems while avoiding the blame game and socking it to a selective potion of the population who quite naturally are resisting strenuously the notion that they should disproportionately pay for a national goal.

Chris Golledge 3 years, 10 months ago

We've been over this before. Your solution puts the government in charge of picking winners and losers in the energy production market, and it lacks specifics.

George Lippencott 3 years, 10 months ago

Yes we have and I have commented at length with detail so please do not pander. Please explain you argument that the government will pick winners and losers (like it is not already doing that). It would seem to me that the scientific community could readily agree on what are our major carbon sources.

Market based costs work well except where their is no market - such as power generation. Maybe some day I can buy power from Duke power but that day is well off. In fact your solution would do nothing to hasten that very needed change whereas mine would.

Could you be part of another "triangulation" effort that pits all the low users against the fewer higher users to sock it to the latter even though the decision to use coal for our power was made decades ago and it was totally legal. Converting to alternate sources will be expensive enough without the added costs of a "carbon tax" rewarding those with options we do not have (like hydro-power)..

Chris Golledge 3 years, 10 months ago

Chris Golledge 6 months, 2 weeks ago By "we" do you mean government officials would prioritize the funding?

George Lippencott 6 months, 2 weeks ago Yes it would. ...


Let's pretend that Kansas needs more electricity. The utility company has a choice between building a coal plant or something else. Knowing that their cost for coal is going to steadily rise over the lifetime of the infrastructure, what do you think they would do?

Let's be clear, there is as much uncertainty in scientific circles as far as sources of carbon are concerned as there is authority over what we do about it. In case you haven't noticed, our politicians have not been paying much attention to our scientists for several decades. You are expecting the politicians to listen if only we give them more authority than they already have. I'm not buying it.

George Lippencott 3 years, 10 months ago

I share your fear. I unfortunately see the same fear in your version of the tax. It would be the government deciding how much and to whom we return the proceeds. Consider the tax on smoking and where it was supposed to go.

IMHO my approach is perhaps a bit better as it would make things more transparent.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 10 months ago

“Isn’t the dividend part of carbon tax and dividend just a political ploy?”

No, it isn't and it is time that people stopped being proud of themselves for being mean and cynical, disguising it as sophistication. Energy providers who use carbon based sources will pay a fee to do so. Companies who export to countries who do not require a carbon fee will not be required to pay one here. Increases in energy bills will be rebated to the consumer.

My thing is that humans use a vast amount of energy and it is only going to increase. Solar and wind only work in very precise conditions. People in the rest of the world are not going to be content to live in a local, stulted economy while watching the people in the West live in comfort made possible by the corruption of the environment and the rest of the worlds population.

I had not heard of this group before, but I would certainly recommend going to this web site as it contains very valuable information.


Ken Lassman 3 years, 10 months ago

Here we go again--apparently the JW is trying a new comment software, which has the same flaws as the previous attempt at "upgrading," resulting in a bunch of emails disappearing and the order being turned upside down. Hopefully this will be reversed....

Ken Lassman 3 years, 10 months ago

Also, folks, don't bother to reply to any of the posted comments as these won't be posted. One additional reason this new software is hopefully just a glitch and not a replacement: all discussions will be nipped in the bud with this format.

Chris Golledge 3 years, 10 months ago

It is an interesting glitch because if you click on someone's name you can link to all their comments, and the ones made at this post are there. So, they are in the database; they just aren't tied to the article anymore.

Chris Golledge 3 years, 10 months ago

It is an interesting glitch because if you click on someone's name you can link to all their comments, and the ones made at this post are there. So, they are in the database; the article doesn't have a link to them anymore. They don't show from the article, but you can click on a comment and it will take you to the article where it was made.

Wonder if they switched to MongoDB.

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