Wednesday, 25 September 2013


We have a problem: We're addicted to cheap fossil-derived energy. Unfortunately the amount of fossil fuel use since the industrial revolution has significantly increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

"If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm."
 --  James Hansen, NASA

The fossil fuel industry has proven reserves of gas coal and oil five-times what is safe to burn, but they still get tax breaks (AKA subsidies) in exploration efforts looking for more. I'm sure many of their other tax breaks have little to commend them and ought to be culled as well.

On top of the tax breaks, the fossil fuel industry gets to pollute without paying. All other companies and individuals have to safely deal with their hazardous by-products, from chemical waste to littering on the street.

Due to it's role in climate change, carbon dioxide is one of the most dangerous pollutants - but the industry is free to release it straight into the atmosphere, with deadly consequences rapidly approaching.

We need to push all governments to enact carbon taxes which make what is currently an external cost - destruction of the environment - into an internal one for these companies. France's carbon tax announcement looks to be the correct approach, with the revenue to be used in further reducing emissions.

When the alternative is severe damage to every aspect of human life (and if we really do nothing - the end of civilization), an increase in current energy cost is not a valid reason to stick with the status quo.

Naturally there is another component - consumer behaviour. We need to:
  • Reduce our energy (and other resource) usage
  • Choose zero/low carbon energy sources and resources
  • Pressure financial and other businesses to divest fossil fuel investments
  • Pressure government to enact carbon taxes and invest in zero/low alternatives
There's a lot of work to do but, if we decide to act, we can do it.

No comments:

Post a Comment