The summer of 2021 was the hottest summer on record in Minnesota.
I fear that, to our children, a summer like the one just past will be considered normal, or, maybe even cool.
Atmospheric CO2 has shot up at a rate that, so far as we know, has never been seen before in billions of years, and, as temperatures track closely to CO2, we can only expect a fearful future for future generations.
Many policies have been proposed to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations, and all of them are important. However, most of these proposals are limited to only one sector of the economy.
So, for example, we might require that electricity providers produce a percentage of their power from renewables. This may be good for the energy sector, but it does little to reduce the emissions of gas-powered cars. CAFE standards can reduce auto emissions, but has little effect on the use of natural gas to heat homes.
One policy stands out: A price on carbon would encourage carbon reductions in all parts of the economy at once. It is the single most powerful tool in our toolbox.
Combined with a “carbon dividend” (returning the revenues to citizens) guarantees that poor to middle-income families come out ahead.
Anyone whose carbon footprint is larger than average would have to pay for their way of life, but this typically describes people at the very high end of the income spectrum.
If we want to fight against a future with more Minnesota summers like the last one, we should enact a small but steadily increasing price on carbon. We should do this immediately.
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