Create the Environment for a Carbon Tax and Dividend

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the problem of carbon pollution. But it’s a lot like other big social issues: action comes because people express an enduring, fundamental, collective change of heart. It happened with slavery. It happened with the vote for women. It happened with segregation. It’s happening for marriage equality. And it can happen with carbon reduction.

Consciousness-raising is important. We’re doing our part just by being aware, because when a meaningful opportunity to do something arises, we can take that next step. We are all part of the public opinion politicians pay attention to.

On Monday, June 23, 600 volunteers from Citizens Climate Lobby will be on Capitol Hill, talking to every Congressperson they can schedule about an idea whose time has come: a carbon tax and dividend.

We may be near a tipping point.

President Obama recently championed a carbon price. Bloomberg has endorsed a carbon tax. And in the June 22 Sunday New York Times, President George W. Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulsen likens climate change risk to the 2008 financial crisis, and calls for a carbon tax to check that risk before the climate collapses the way the economy did.

Paulsen’s point: a climate crash will take the economy right along with it, only it would be much worse than 2008. The time to act is now. We ignored the signs in 2008. Let’s not do that again.

Here’s a carbon tax commentary that I and a colleague published in the local paper last week. It was our bit in building consensus for this change of heart.

If you have a minute this weekend, call your congressperson and leave a message that you support a carbon tax and dividend.  It’s a small thing that might help push this idea over the top.

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