Are We There Yet?
After a historic election that saw President Barack Obama re-elected and same-sex marriage passed by popular vote in three states, we are still at a stand-still on meaningful climate change legislation.
Sure, efficiency standards have risen and by 2025, it is predicted that cars will get almost 55 mpg.
And, green technology continues to improve and permeate our daily lives.But humanity still faces its biggest threat unprepared.
The average global temperature has already increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius.
Climate scientists warn that we cannot go above a 2-degree Celsius increase or we will suffer irreversible and catastrophic change to the planet’s climate.
With just this 0.8-degree increase, we have seen a striking loss of biodiversity.
The planet’s oceans are becoming more acidic and thousands of heat records were shattered last summer.
We have witnessed the hottest recorded rainfall in history — 109 degrees Fahrenheit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia last spring.
And, more extreme weather and stronger storms have hit — Hurricane Sandy’s devastation was aided by an eight-inch increase in sea level on the East Coast.
Climate change’s overall devastation is expected to claim several million lives over the century.
If nothing changes over the next few years, we are in for a stormy future.
Currently, California is leading the nation in curbing emissions on a statewide level.
That’s great news — the most populous state in the nation is taking direct action to decrease emission of green house gases.
But California’s efforts will be mostly in vain if the rest of the country refuses to budge.
A carbon tax has been proposed, in which an estimated $103 tax per ton of carbon emitted is levied.
The economic effects of this tax would be massive as well, bringing in hundreds of billions of dollars to the federal government and reducing overall emissions.
Because it is a regressive tax, the Congressional Budget Office has proposed various ways to offset the economic burden of the carbon tax, including income tax rebates and reductions in payroll tax rates.
At first, it appeared as though this would pass along bipartisan lines.
That mirage disappeared when the GOP-controlled House recently vowed to oppose such a tax, even if it were offset by reductions in other taxes.
On to “Plan B,” I hope?
How ever we decide to curb emissions, we must decide now.
The planet and our future depend on us putting aside political differences and coming together to do something about our unsustainable and irresponsible habits.
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