I am perfectly willing to sacrifice something to combat climate change. I am willing to sacrifice tax money. I invite policymakers to enact a carbon tax that will be designed to reduce carbon emissions in order to slow–and hopefully, reverse–the process of global warming. I invite pundits to advocate the enactment of such a tax, and to give our governing class the political cover necessary to implement a carbon tax. And I invite the electorate to reward politicians who call for a carbon tax by electing and re-electing them to positions of public trust, and to punish those who do not by denying them election to those positions. Back in 2007, I argued for the enactment of a carbon tax that would “be pegged to the three-year average change in global tropical temperatures.” My concern back then was to measure the degree to which human activity might be contributing to global warming, and I signed on to the economist Ross McKitrick’s plan to tie any carbon tax to the three year moving average temperature in the tropical troposphere. If it were found that human activity is contributing to global warming, then we could increase such a tax until any increase in carbon emissions could be halted and reduced.
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But here is the thing: I don’t think that the implementation of a carbon tax should constitute a “sacrifice” of any real kind. Indeed, short of geo-engineering, a carbon tax is as close as we are ever likely to get to using a silver bullet to reverse climate change. Not all solutions to climate change need to involve pain, and just because a solution involves pain, that does not mean that the solution will be powerful or consequential.
Longtime blog readers of mine are, of course, quite familiar with my stance on the desirability of carbon taxes. But whether or not you are a longtime reader, check out the rest of the piece.