Rural climate skeptics are costing us time and money. Do we keep indulging them?
I’ve been on tour and listening to more than a couple of dozen rural climate skeptics – the kind who think that skeptics are paid shills for the fossil fuel industry, who deny the science of climate change, and who oppose any policy with a carbon tax.
The latest news from the anti-science chorus is that the Trump administration is planning on reversing its decision regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, and is trying to persuade Congress to include a tax on carbon dioxide emissions in its pending omnibus spending bill. Some members of Congress, in fact, have even written their own carbon tax ideas into a spending bill to fund the government.
To put it mildly, that’s a stunning reversal of policy on carbon dioxide emissions. If the administration is successful, the resulting carbon tax of $21 per ton would be the largest in US history. The bill currently before Congress would raise at least $1.2 trillion over ten years from all sources, but would not even begin to pay for itself because it would leave behind a mountain of unfunded liability. If we are to avoid the largest fiscal disaster in a generation, I believe there is no alternative but to stop it. It is not a matter of choice, it isn’t even a matter of moral conviction, it’s simply a matter of the facts.
Let’s start with the facts. As the New York Times pointed out:
To be sure, not all of the new proposals are as radical as those that have emerged from the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Still, when the president talks about cutting $5.7 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade, he is not really talking about cutting $5.7 trillion from the budget, as he likes to argue, but instead cutting $5.7 trillion from the US economy. The problem is that