Your Opinion: Discussion needed on climate change

Dear Editor:

In a Sept. 20 response to a letter of mine, Nelson Otto questions the need for a carbon tax and provides an alternative solution to climate change. That is exactly the conversation we need to be having: What are the best solutions to climate change? Unfortunately he begins with a common denial of climate change, referencing “Internet reports citing NASA ...” that earth is cooling not warming. You can find lots of stuff on the Internet!

Visit NASA at climate.nasa.gov and try to find concern for global cooling. While you are there, click on “Consensus” to read climate statements from the major scientific societies. The last dissenting statement by a major scientific society on the subject of humans causing climate change was withdrawn in 2007 when the American Association of Petroleum Geologists changed its position to noncommittal. We change the climate when we throw the carbon cycle out of balance by burning fossil fuels.

Otto asks: How will taxing carbon help?

A carbon tax that increases over time would make it clear to citizens and businesses that the price of fossil fuels will increase. Suddenly, it is smart to change to efficient lighting, appliances and cars; upgrade insulation and windows; turn off a truck while chatting to a neighbor; and generate electricity with sustainable energy such as wind, solar, wave ... or maybe even Mike Kehoe’s nuclear plants.

The only way for a carbon tax to work without creating financial pain for citizens is to return 100 percent of the revenue to households. Most families, especially poor families, do not have huge carbon footprints and would actually benefit financially. Still, reducing fossil fuel use would be “smart” for them, too.

Otto suggests that if climate change is a problem, which it is, “we” need to rethink agriculture. He says government should subsidize mass production of new transparent solar panel technology greenhouses that could provide both food and electricity. By taxing carbon, we let the market determine the best solutions, which will work better than having the government pick winners and losers.

I agree that high-tech greenhouses are an excellent example of the many exciting, innovative, job-creating ways to reduce fossil fuel use. Now, let’s just determine the fastest way to get moving.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com