April 22 News: Happy Triage Day, Time For A Carbon Tax

Happy Triage Day!

How to Put America Back Together Again: “The best place to start is with a carbon tax” [Tom Friedman column]

The effects of climate change mean that a carbon tax is a no-brainer. [Herald Business Journal editorial]

Earth Day. Conceived by Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and organized by Seattle’s Denis Hayes, the mission is to educate and mobilize Americans around the environment. For the political class, Earth Day is cause for enviro speechifying and “I care” platitudes that echo with the lightness of Christians who only attend church on Easter.

Yes, we love the Earth. Regarding climate change, cleaning up Puget Sound, ocean acidification, habitat degradation, and energy security, however, rhetoric by itself is a poor salve. We need plans, and we need to act.

To battle climate change and rebuild America’s infrastructure, the most prudent strategy is what writer Thomas Friedman terms a “radical center” solution. A phased-in carbon tax could raise a trillion dollars over 10 years. It would placate conservatives if it’s linked to individual tax-rate cuts while directly addressing climate change. A carbon tax of $20 a ton is a radically sensible brainstorm that merits consideration. And as Friedman warns, “If we treat every good big idea as ‘dead on arrival’ then so are we.”

The cap-and trade programs in California and Quebec are linking, which should strengthen both systems. [LA Times]

Sen. Mark Warner, writing in an Earth Day op-ed: “the U.S. wastes more energy than it uses.” [Politico]

This follows the climate accord signed between California and China’s most populous province last week. [The Climate Group]

Courtesy of Mike Allen: “POLITICO Playbook, presented by the American Petroleum Institute — HAPPY EARTH DAY.” [Politico]

Falling prices for renewable power are likely to triple investment in the industry by 2030. [Bloomberg]

65 percent of Americans think climate change is a “very” or “somewhat” serious problem. [Bloomberg]

A group including FreedomWorks, Michele Bachmann, and Joe Barton are petitioning the Supreme Court to review an appellate court decision that upheld EPA’s power to regulate CO2 … including the endangerment finding that resulted from the Supreme Court’s MA v. EPA decision. [The Hill]

Those skeptical of government intervention in the economy also tend to be skeptical of science. [Huffington Post]

EPA proposed new rules to cut water pollution near fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. [The Hill]

A major new global study confirms the “hockey stick” graph showing a warming planet using data from local experts combined into one terrifying whole. [Skeptical Science]

The Koch brothers are looking at buying the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and Orlando Sentinel. [New York Times]

Scientific and religious leaders both see acting on climate change as a moral issue. [Salt Lake Tribune]

“Dark Snow” shows New Yorkers what happens to melting glaciers. [Climate Crock of the Week]

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is finding success in cooling a data center with water. [EarthTechling]

Climate activist Tim DeChristopher was released from a prison halfway house yesterday, and his documentary, “Bidder 70,” will be shown nationwide tonight. [DeSmogBlog]

It’s Earth Day: plant a tree. Or help out a group that’s spent two decades chasing down the world’s oldest and strongest trees, cloning them, and preparing to plant them as carbon sinks. [AP]

24 Responses to April 22 News: Happy Triage Day, Time For A Carbon Tax

  1. Beth says:

    In Senator Mark Warner’s Earth Day op-ed in Politico, he states:

    “If Earth Day 2013 is going to teach us anything, it is that we have to connect our efforts today with the interests of generations tomorrow.”

    What does he REALLY think? In March he endorsed the Keystone Pipeline with a YES vote.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    Of course we need a carbon tax. Obama could do it without the House by declaring a national emergency. Global trust would be restored, and serious action would finally begin.

    Instead, a carbon tax is “off the table”, since the oil companies own the President. We can’t wait another four years, since we are likely to end up with a Republican or a Blue Dog, our choices every year except one (2004) since 1988.

    McKibben is right, the people have to force change. We need to think of new strategies, especially since the noose is tightening (see Christopher story above). Maybe Tim has ideas.

    Here’s mine: Activists should establish a dialogue with countries like Sweden, New Zealand, and Germany, who have carbon taxes and are furious about US obstruction and inaction. Work with them to organize product boycotts against US firms that are embedded in fossil fuels or support climate change denial. Hitting those firms financially is the only thing likely to work. How do you think GM will like a boycott of their cars in Europe, or Apple of I Pads (knockoffs are available)? There are plenty of willing troops overseas to enforce these actions, which should also be directed against bad actors like China and Canada.

  3. prokaryotes says:

    In Europe, a number of countries have imposed energy taxes or energy taxes based partly on carbon content.[19] These include Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. None of these countries has been able to introduce a uniform carbon tax for fuels in all sectors. For a review of Europe’s experience with carbon taxation see Andersen (2010)

  4. prokaryotes says:

    The above link is not really related, should be about these tax loopholes for major energy user

    The point i try to make here is that even in Germany the situation is not the gloomy as some think.

    Imho we require a uniform international agreement, not just local tax reform.

  5. Brian R Smith says:

    The Globe & Mail: Obama set to okay pipeline, former insider says, as poll shows support

    “Barack Obama will almost certainly approve the Keystone XL pipeline, predicts a former senior figure in the State Department who recently brought that message to Ottawa. “I would say the chances are about four-to-one” in favour of the President approving the pipeline from Alberta to American refineries, said David Gordon. He was director of policy planning when Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state, and is currently head of research at the respected consulting firm Eurasia Group.

    “Domestic political considerations – including a close fight with Republicans for control of the House of Representatives – make approval virtually inevitable, Mr. Gordon said in an interview.

    “Times have changed, the route has changed, and the political landscape has changed since Mr. Obama rejected Keystone 1.0. Democrats are convinced they have a shot at winning control of the House of Representatives in the 2014 mid-term elections.

    “That means holding and wooing blue-collar workers in key Midwestern states for whom Democrats and Republicans endlessly contest.”


    If an Obama KXL approval IS a core part of administration strategy to regain the House– also a must-win for climate hawks – then we have two seriously incompatible sets of values & strategies competing for the same voters. Hawks need candidates to win for strong positions on climate & renewable energy, backed by what we hope is enough of a rise in public awareness on the issues. Obama is signaling that blue collar votes can only be wooed by shutting up about climate risk and making (false) assurances that fossil fuel jobs will not be threatened. What could be a plan for responding, between now and Nov. 2014, to this deepening competition with Obama which makes a mockery of advocates’ attempts to push serious policy?

    The answer is there will be no coherent “plan” because there is no evidence that climate stakeholders have any useful idea of banding together around common political goals that’s sufficient to counter Obama’s position. Some will yield to Obama’s judgment, others will remain silent, others will continue to press on for reform from isolated or minimally collaborated positions. Sure, the momentum is building; we have the evidence and the poll numbers and a ton of scientists & organizations working on every conceivable angle. And it’s all FAR short of being effective, as Bill McKibben is the first to point out. The climate movement represents the largest single issue movement in American history and it is, at least for the important task of regaining the House, fractured, unorganized and impotent. All because it’s “hey, I’ve got my plan, you’ve got yours” business as usual among climate influentials. Think climate sanity is going to become the brand that wins American hearts and minds and votes any time soon? Soon enough? Not likely, the way we are wasting our potential while Obama acts alone. We haven’t led the climate agenda and the chances we will in this cycle are vanishingly small. How unacceptable does this have to become before climate leaders leave their comfort ones and conspire (yes, together!)to turn it around?

  6. prokaryotes says:

    Why not just ban Tar Sad crude?

    Because the Global Warming is a National Security issue and Tar Sand’s oil poses a major contributor and undermines our fight to combat Climate Change!

  7. Paul Magnus says:

    I agree. However, look what has happened to the price on carbon for the airline industry when Europe tried to force the issue….

  8. Paul Magnus says:

    The tyranny of the tar sands | Toronto Star
    In exploiting every last drop of tar sands crude, the government is impoverishing our country, its democratic freedoms and its future prosperity.

  9. prokaryotes says:

    Green spaces boosts wellbeing of urban dwellers – study

  10. Mike Roddy says:

    I don’t think you can blame failure on infighting and jealousy. Climate activists I know disagree at times, but there’s not much in the way of territorial/financial disputes.

    If you want a culprit, try the mainstream media, which has blown it completely.

  11. Brian R Smith says:

    I said nothing about jealousy or infighting among greens. What I said, basically, is that while there is obvious unity of purpose there is little unity around around specific actions and not much chance of that happening without pulling together around objectives which, in my experience, gets nowhere without deliberate strategy. And structure to deploy it with. It’s not happening on this side. Collectively we are the goose that could lay the golden eggs, Mike. Or think of it as a tug of war. If the opposition is pulling together, not to mention cheating wherever possible, and our strategy is a Monty Python-like tag team approach of sending our best guys to the rope one at a time.. we can surely expect to be dragged through the mud. Over and over. Everyone has their own strategy, and that’s great, but there is no common strategy for leading the national conversation. You could call this a stragedy. I call it capitulation for lack of inspiration that needs correcting.

  12. Merrelyn Emery says:

    100% correct, ME

  13. Daniel Coffey says:

    I wrote a piece on this topic, one which might be worth considering.

    Taxation is a very sophisticate game, more difficult to understand than cap-n-trade, in large part because people don’t focus on following the path the tax money will take and considering how that will actually solve the challenge we face with global warming. So far I have not seen anyone really discuss – other than a diminishment of access by the poor or less well off – how raising prices will actually transform our transportation and electricity generating systems.

  14. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Oleaginous humbugger-perfect for a modern ‘democratic’ politician. Janus-like, speaking out of both sides of his mouth at once. ‘A man of principal’, in an overseas tax-haven preferably.

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Not ‘could’, but ‘will’- inevitably.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Such boycotts have been outlawed in Australia, to protect Big Business from ‘the mob’ as John Howard liked to call them.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    A whitewash, for certain, to take the heat off, like the Levenson Inquiry or the other sham investigations of the Iraqi war crime. The UK ruling elite are expert at such manoeuvres.

  18. fj says:

    The best place to start is to go net zero immediately while restoring the environment.

    Poor people first is on this level.

  19. fj says:

    The carbon tax is important but relatively minor bean-counter stuff considering the necessary scale and dynamics of any initiative to stop accelerating climate change at wartime speed.

    This was indicated by Bill McKibben and others at the 21 Apr Earth Day event in NYC’s New School with James Hansen present (though not necessarily in agreement).

  20. fj says:

    Once we start acting on this extreme crisis with the requisite urgency this extreme crisis demands the supporting framework will fall into place quite easily with minimal effort.

    Right now it just slows the process as we’ve yet to establish that we must be acting on climate change at wartime speed.

  21. fj says:

    James Hansen is a premiere climate scientist but falls short as a highly-skilled social activist.

    He admitted as much for his fellow scientists at the New School 21 Apr event.

    Nothing derogatory meant here.

    The vast scope and difficulty of what must be achieved is without precedent.