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Opinion: Carbon fee is fair answer to problems caused by climate change

As an American, I am a firm believer in fairness and justice. They are basic American values, no matter what our political affiliation. Those values are some of the main reasons I favor a carbon fee and dividend plan to combat climate change. 

Right now, fossil fuel companies are allowed to put their carbon pollution into the air, and there are no consequences. That doesn’t seem fair or just to me. If we look at all the damage they are causing, the social costs are enormous. 

The rising temperatures are melting our ice caps, causing sea level rise and billions of dollars of damage to coastal communities. Rising temperatures are causing hurricanes and other storms to worsen and are making wild fires more severe, resulting in countless billions of dollars of loss and great human suffering and deaths. 

They are also causing increasing droughts, resulting in crop loss and great economic damage. The particulate matter from the burning of fossil fuels causes about 200,000 premature deaths annually, according to MIT; some studies put the figures much higher. To make matters worse, the poor and people of color suffer the most — another injustice.

These are what we call externalities, and they make the market place inequitable. If we put a price on the burning of fossil fuels to account for the damage they cause, it makes the whole situation much more fair and just. After all, fossil fuel companies produce the problems, and right now we all pay, and it only seems fair that they should pay for the damages they produce.

So, you put a fair price on the production of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels to account for their damage — various estimates put that price now at between $50-$200/ton of carbon dioxide produced — and return that money monthly to every citizen of the U.S. 

Numerous very reliable studies have shown that this will stimulate innovation in clean energy and will grow the economy, adding millions of new, well paying American jobs! Again, according to several very reliable studies, it will grow our economy, and put more real spendable income into the lower 2/3 of Americans’ pockets, even accounting for higher energy costs. It will also decrease greenhouse gases by 90% by 2050, will not cost our government one penny, and it will avoid many costly government regulations.

Now, to me, this does seem like a fair and just solution to our climate change crisis. The polluters pay, the people come out ahead, our nation can again lead in the green energy revolution, new jobs are created and we solve the biggest part of our climate change problem without government regulation. It sounds like a conservative solution to climate change! I ask you to consider such a solution.

Vernon Dixon


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