Margaret Welke: Will climate change words translate into actions?

2013-01-27T05:00:00Z Margaret Welke: Will climate change words translate into actions?
January 27, 2013 5:00 am

President Lincoln has been attributed with saying that if a man gave him six hours to cut down a tree, he’d spend four hours sharpening the blade. Perhaps that’s why President Barack Obama waited until his second inaugural address to finally address the importance of tackling climate change as a national endeavor.

The rhetoric was what I have waited and wanted to hear: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” The path may indeed be difficult, especially given the entrenched power and economic resources of the fossil fuel industries, but it cannot be too long since we don’t have too long to wait.

Obama’s words were good, but his actions and those of our legislators need to rise to the challenges of climate change. We could start by imposing a fee on greenhouse gases. We can do this without hurting the pocketbooks of ordinary citizens by returning all the revenue back to households in a monthly “green” check. This would incentivize both consumers and businesses to cut back on their fossil fuel usage, provide a more level playing field for sustainable, clean energy and promote more research and development, investment in and capitalization of clean energy.

The question is, does Congress have the moral fortitude to embrace such a policy?

Margaret Welke, Madison

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. Glen
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    Glen - January 30, 2013 2:55 pm
    From Friends of the Earth:
    "A recent poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth and conducted by the leading polling firm Mellman Group found that 72% of Americans had a favorable response to a carbon tax.

    "Support remained high regardless of whether the revenue raised would go to fixing our budget programs or towards the dual purposes of helping 'solve our budget problems and fund programs that help deal with the effects of climate change and create clean energy jobs.'”
  2. 196ski
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    196ski - January 29, 2013 6:29 pm
    Yes it is the burning of fossil fuels Glen and unfortunately there is nothing we are able or willing to do. All credibility is lost when "feel good" approaches are taken instead of meaningful understanding including the acceptance that at the present time our options are limited.
  3. Glen
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    Glen - January 29, 2013 4:55 pm
    Respiration is not what is increasing atmospheric CO2. Respiration is part of the carbon cycle that recycles CO2. The 40% increase since 1880 is due to burning fossil fuels--taking sequestered carbon from the ground, and putting it into the atmosphere as CO2.
    Report Abuse
    GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN - January 29, 2013 3:57 pm


    When Margaret asks in her letter, 'does Congress have the moral fortitude to embrace a cap and tax policy, I think she's asking a rhetorical question. She already know the answer.

    You, however, seem to be smart enough to realize that there is not much we lowly morals can do to fight anthropomorphic caused global warming. We couldn't change the climate if we tried. Global warming is the most wonderful worldwide hoax, ever.

    The most ubiquitous greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide.

    Are your New Mengele Society dues currently up to date? Do you propose all humans should stop breathing? Or, should just some other species stop respirating.?

    Have the Chicken Little, sky-is-falling, furry-headed enviro-wackadoodle watermelons offered any doable, practical or sustainable solutions. No,

    Because they haven't, maybe it's more like a fart in the wind, it doesn't mean shite to a tree.

    Want to further cripple our economy, embrace THIS madness, or, buy some carbon indulgences.

    Woofda !!!

  5. 196ski
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    196ski - January 29, 2013 3:02 pm
    Utter folly. Lets hope Congress is intelligent to see through this sham.

    Global warming is here and no doubt we (man) caused it. You can't put trillions of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and think nothing will happen.

    So what?

    This is a WORLD WIDE problem. One planet, one atmosphere. Do people have rocks in their heads? We aren't even the biggest contributor anymore (China) and soon we will be third (India). We don't want to burn coal but it's okay to export it? Coal use is going up 50% in the next twenty years regardless of what we do. China and India alone are opening 1200 new coal fired electrical generating plants in the next 5 years.

    Cap and Trade? You mean Cap and Export Jobs right? If the cost of electricity goes up manufacturers will move to locations with cheaper power. This is just another redistribution scam and will kill jobs and the economy.

    Exactly what "green" energy is going to replace fossil fuels? Windmills and solar? Your joking right, it isn't just that they produce THE most expensive power it is that they DON'T WORK. An electric grid requires a steady constant flow of electricity, you don't get that from intermittent supply. Colorado did a study and showed that when they cycled (slowed down) their gas fired plants to use renewable energy the net was MORE greenhouse emissions than if they hadn't due to rich burn conditions.

    This is not a political problem this is a science and engineering problem. Until the storage (battery) problem is solved green energy is only useful in select applications.

    The real solutions:
    Population control world wide.
    Lower standard of living world wide.
    Nuclear power, the only green energy source that works, but we will never accept it.

    What are the odds that any of the REAL solutions will be undertaken? Less than zero. Sunscreen, high ground, embrace the madness.

  6. Glen
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    Glen - January 29, 2013 1:33 pm
    First, Margaret said no such thing.

    Second, Fee and Dividend, as proposed by James Hansen and the Citizens Climate Lobby, distributes the revenue equally among citizens. What disproportional proposals are you referring to? Or are you saying that the dividend is not proportional to CO2 produced? That's true, by design, and appropriately so.

    Third, I'm not sure what you mean by the word "efficient", but you seem not to be using the definition usually used with energy. I will guess that you mean "cost effective". The idea is that the fee on carbon is gradually increased until clean energy and conservation become more competitive than carbon fuels.
  7. cedillon
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    cedillon - January 28, 2013 10:00 pm
    She didn't indicate a fee and dividend system as has been proposed. She indicates each consumer is made whole. The fee and dividend proposals I've read about redistribute the revenue disproportionately.

    The problem with taxing dirty energy away, which is what you are talking about, is that it's not sustainable unless the alternative energy you move us to becomes as efficient as the dirty energy. If it doesn't economic forces are going to eventually reverse the trend. Particularly in developing countries that wouldn't tolerate the inefficiency you want to impose on them in the first place.

  8. Glen
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    Glen - January 27, 2013 10:01 pm
    It's not true the a fee and dividend system provides no incentive. The cost of fossil fuels goes up, but not the cost of conservation and clean energy, so there is a shift in the market away from fossil fuels. Plenty of economists have endorsed the idea.
  9. cedillon
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    cedillon - January 27, 2013 9:42 am
    If you tax business you in effect tax their customers, rates will go up. If you return the tax revenue back to the customers you provide no incentive. You are just laundering money through the government - and giving politicians an opportunity to redistribute that portion of the nation's wealth.

    Of course there would be administrative overhead in all of this money laundering so you would either have to draw some revenues from elsewhere in the government budget or not rebate quite "all" of it.

    Let's hope Congress has the intelligence to avoid such a policy!

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