Carbon Taxes Won't Save the Planet; Global Warming Is Excuse for Economy Grab

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

Carbon Taxes Won't Save the Planet; Global Warming Is Excuse for Economy Grab


Byline: Steve Milloy, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Global-warming alarmists are hoping Hurricane Sandy and President Obama's re-election will force panicky congressional Republicans into agreeing to a carbon tax in 2013. If you can do simple math, you can figure out that a carbon tax would have no effect other than an inflationary one.

A carbon tax would operate as a new sales tax on goods and services that are produced through or otherwise involve the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas and petroleum products. You might pay the tax in your electric bill, at the gas pump or in the form of higher prices for other goods and services.

The purpose of a carbon tax would be to penalize the use of fossil fuels in hopes of reducing their use and lowering emissions of carbon dioxide, which has been hypothesized by alarmists to have caused global cooling in the 1970s, global warming in the 1980s and 1990s, climate change in the 2000s and extreme weather in the 2010s.

While higher prices for goods and services aren't inherently evil, their merits must be judged by what consumers and even society get in return. So let's consider what we might get, climatically speaking, from a carbon tax.

To give a carbon tax the maximum advantage in our analysis, we'll assume it is extremely successful in reducing U.S. carbon emissions to the point where the United States no longer emits into the atmosphere any carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels. Let's also imagine that this public-policy wonder has this maximum and magical effect starting as soon as Jan. 1, 2013.

What would be the climatic effect of immediately shutting down the fossil-fuel-based U.S. economy?

Let's say that U.S. fossil fuel use results in 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere annually. Let's further assume, conservatively, that of this 6 billion tons, about 40 percent (2.4 billion tons) stays and accumulates in the atmosphere annually.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is commonly measured in parts per million, and the weight of carbon dioxide at a concentration of 1 part per million is approximately 7.81 billion metric tons. Simple division, then, shows that the U.S. fossil-fuel-based economy might be adding at most approximately 0.31 parts per million to the atmosphere every year.

If the carbon tax could magically stop U.S. emissions entirely as of 2013, by the year 2100, we would have avoided adding about 27 parts per million (0.31 times 87) of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

That may sound like a lot, but consider that the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 391 parts per million. …

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Carbon Taxes Won't Save the Planet; Global Warming Is Excuse for Economy Grab
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