The global warming debate has taken on a new dimension -- taxation.
Nearly all the energy required for domestic and industrial use in the United States is based on carbon. Wind and water provide far lesser amounts of energy. Carbon is the base of all fossil fuels, such as gas, coal and petroleum, which are used to produce most of the nation's energy.
There are at present a variety of taxes up to and including taxes that are involved in the production and sale of domestic and industrial energy. The full use of a fossil fuel including gas, oil and coal, requires combustion of the product with the resulting release of various gases, one of which is carbon dioxide.
Automobiles have been suggested to be one of the largest sources of man-made contributions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The oceans of the world provide 90 percent of the world's carbon dioxide. However, in recent years catalytic converters, mandated for all motor vehicles in the 1970s, have reduced harmful exhaust emissions -- nitrous oxide, for example -- by some 88 percent. These automotive improvements, however, did not eliminate carbon dioxide.
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Carbon dioxide represents but a trace of the earth's atmosphere, making up a mere 376 parts per million or about 0.04 percent. While this is a miniscule part of the atmosphere’s total content, it is an essential compound because of its role in harnessing the sun’s energy through the process of photosynthesis, which creates our planet’s vegetable matter. The resulting vegetation provides the base food source for both animals and human beings.
Climate change is not without "thoughtful" attention from the top. A headline today proclaims: President Obama "Stops Short of Endorsing Climate Bill."
President Clinton stated in a "pivotal" speech on climate on April 21, 1993, "Today I affirmed my personal, and announce our nation's, commitment to reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases to their 1990 levels by the year 2000." The year 2000 has come and gone.
Not to be outdone in political rhetoric, Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, opening a hearing on global warming on Earth Day, April 22, 2009, noted that this is a "make-or-break" year on the issue of global warming and added, "The clock is ticking on the best chance the countries of the world will have to marshal an effective global response."
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So much for climate rhetoric. The climate change debate has taken on a much more serious tone -- taxation. It's one thing to take on a controversial issue in public debate but quite another when a method is developed that will bring harm to the citizens of the nation for a problem over which they have no control. When taxes result from any issue the payment is painful. The pain is much more easily borne if it represents a necessary public service, such as security offered by a police department, for example. However, when that tax is levied for such a nebulous factor as a questionable debate on climate change, that argument goes beyond the pale.
Inasmuch as carbon dioxide has been identified as one of the main causes of global warming, carbon itself has been selected as the most likely commodity to tax. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, have both announced their intent to introduce climate legislation in the future. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, proposes ambitious cuts in allowed amounts of greenhouse gases produced over the next four decades. The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Edward Markey, D-MA.
Reid plans to take up a cap and trade measure this year. Under cap and trade an authority such as government sets a limit or cap upon the amount of a pollutant that can be emitted. Companies or other organizations are issued permits representing the right to emit a specific amount. Companies that emit too much and cannot reduce emissions must purchase credits from those who pollute less, thus the trade. In theory, those that can reduce emissions most easily will do so, achieving pollution reduction at the least possible cost to all.
Not all students of climate favor legislation and some point out the dangers of over-regulation. Here are a few points by Arthur Robinson from the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons: First, man-made carbon dioxide is an insignificant greenhouse gas; water vapor is the major factor. Second, the sun’s cosmic rays have the most significant influence over global temperature and weather. Third, if all nations’ carbon dioxide emissions were halted the impact would not be significantly measureable. Fourth, the imposition of control would be catastrophic, adversely affecting the emerging nations of the world. Finally, climate alarmists are motivated by politics and finances, and if the controversy would end, thousands would be unemployed.
Americans may find the reality of additional taxation more painful than the questionable threat of global warming.
Is global warming a crisis? See the Opposing Views debate.