Thursday, April 18, 2024

Letters to the editor Jan. 22

| January 22, 2024 12:00 AM

Costs of climate change

In Bob Brown’s recent letter “Climate crisis: We’re all in it together” he mentions 2023 was the hottest year in recorded history. But also, NOAA recently reported the U.S. experienced an historic 28 separate weather-related disasters in 2023 costing at least $1 billion dollars — surpassing the previous record of 22 in 2020 (inflation-adjusted).  

The average number of billion-dollar disasters from 1980 to 2023 was 8.5. This has increased to over 20 from 2019 to 2023 (inflation adjusted).

Costs are increasing exponentially by the billions each year as the planet warms, adding up to trillions of dollars, not to mention the loss of lives and damage to our natural world. It makes good sense to fix the problem by cutting climate pollution caused by burning fossil fuels.

I was glad to read Bob Brown’s suggested solutions to tackle the problem. One he mentions is a carbon fee. This is a great solution, especially if paired with a “dividend.” Carbon fee and dividend is a market-based, revenue neutral strategy and so a favorite of many conservatives, including Mitt Romney, whom Bob mentions. It sends carbon dividends from fossil fuel companies to all taxpayers.

Carbon fee and dividend does not grow our government, add regulations, or increase our debt. Yet, it both cuts pollution and benefits households. In 2019, 3,649 U.S. economists published a statement in the Wall Street Journal supporting carbon fee and dividend and said “to maximize the fairness and political viability of a rising carbon tax, all the revenue should be returned directly to U.S. citizens through equal lump-sum rebates. The majority of American families, including the most vulnerable, will benefit financially by receiving more in ‘carbon dividends’ than they pay in increased energy prices.”

Canadians received their quarterly payment this month from their Carbon fee and Dividend policy. Families of four living in Alberta got $386 CAN.

Ask Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester, and Congressman Ryan Zinke to take a look at carbon fee and dividend. It’s a no-nonsense simple way to incentivize a gradual transition to clean-energy sources and halt the future escalation of costly climate disasters.

— Robin Paone, Whitefish