Will Congress Act in Time?
By Sarah “Steve” Mosko
While heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) is not the only greenhouse gas (GHG), it’s the most abundant and longest-lived in the atmosphere and contributes the most to global warming. In March, atmospheric CO2 content reached a new high of 400 parts per million, already past the 350 limit many scientists believe is a safe level above which we risk triggering irreversible consequences out of human control.
Second only to China as the largest CO2 emitter, it’s incumbent on the United States to lead the world in addressing global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the window of time to avoid the worst effects is just a few decades. Yet the United States has not adopted even a nationwide strategy.
Neither producers nor consumers of energy from fossil fuels pay for the environmental and social damages wrought. These so-called externalized costs are shouldered by the public through illness, droughts, violent storms, coastal community destruction, international conflicts, etc. Externalizing the costs of fossil fuels keeps their market price low, de-incentivizing society to move to renewable energy sources.
Current strategies to wean off fossil fuels fall into four categories.* Each attempts to internalize the actual costs of burning fossil fuels through incentives to convert to cleaner energy.
Read the rest of this entry »