Friday, August 10, 2007

Powerful Democrat Endorses Carbon Tax

John D. Dingell the Democratic representative from Michigan, who is Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week, came out in favor of a carbon tax as the most effective way to fight global warming.

In an editorial, The Power in the Carbon Tax, published in the Washington Post, he observes, “Successful laws to protect the environment are built on simple concepts. They discourage harmful behavior -- the dumping of sewage or industrial waste into bodies of water, the destruction of habitat, the emission of toxic chemicals -- by a variety of measures, all of which raise the cost of engaging in certain behavior. You can't develop land, and profit, if you're endangering a threatened animal. You have to dispose of chemical substances responsibly. And so on.”

He ask the questions, “How do we raise the cost of emitting carbon, promoting conservation and efficiencies, and make alternatives more economically viable, thus addressing the problem of climate change?”

While he list and critiques the various alternative fuels and says congress is correct to promote alternative fuel developments, he says that to get the emissions reductions to the level we need we must do much more. He observes that, "History shows that we respond to market forces." His conclusion is that a carbon tax is by far the best method of achieving the desired results.

A few years ago I underwent a conversion from Global Warming skeptic to Global Warming believer. I did not have a change in ideology; I was simply persuaded by the preponderance of the evidence. Following my conversion, I became critical of those on the right who disregarded the growing body of evidence and who stubbornly stuck to their denial.

I then noticed however, that those who had for a long time been believers in the theory of Global Warming were for some reason resistant to policies that would actually do anything about it. It seems they accepted the science of global warming but not the science of economics. They rivaled the Rush Limbaugh’s in blocking solutions to the problem.

Just as many on the right, let their ideology blind them to seeing the problem, it seem many on the left let their ideology blind them to seeing the solution.

They seem married to policies that consist of Command, Control and Cajole. They tout bio-fuel, ethanol, wind farms, and geothermal, but never examine what would make these alternatives affordable and competitive. They seem to love mandates such as higher CAFÉ standards. And, they want everyone to wear sweaters in the winter, turn down the thermostats, and properly inflate their tires. And, it seems that they think that if we will just love Mother Nature enough somehow the problem will be solved. There is nothing wrong with any of these things and I also love “Mother Nature”.

What is wrong with this approach is that it is the equivalent of going elephant hunting with a pea shooter. The other thing wrong with these solutions is that they lull people into a belief that they really are addressing the issue, while all the while, we continue to increase our carbon emissions.

The real solution to global warming was coming not from the tree-hugging environmentalist but from those who understand how markets work. Now the tide seems to be shifting toward a real solution as more and more Democrats and environmentalist embrace a carbon tax as the most effective method of combating the problem of global warming. The list of those who advocate a carbon tax continues to grow.

When a leading Democrat embraces the carbon tax, then perhaps we are getting closer to the day when we can seriously began to solve the issue. I just hope that the obstructionist of the left and the right do not delay the solution until we pass the tipping point.

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