On Nature: Combat Climate Change with a Carbon Tax

David Voigts.

Taxing carbon pollution is a favored way to combat climate change because it is easy to apply. Put a tax on the carbon emitted by a manufacturing process and let the market decide whether the extra cost of a product is worth it. A carbon tax is also fair. Manufacturers should pay for the pollution they dump into the atmosphere. Society shouldn’t pay for the harm it causes. A carbon tax would be even fairer if a carbon border adjustment was included so countries with cheaper, more polluting industries pay a tariff that levels the manufacturing playing field. Finally, if the collected tax is returned to all citizens by dividend checks, any increased cost of products would be mostly eliminated.

Despite these advantages, opponents contend that a carbon tax would raise the costs of food and everyday goods. However, if the collected taxes were to be returned to all Americans equally, those using less carbon would actually benefit. Also, farming is necessarily carbon-intensive, but there is a proposal in the new Farm Bill to exempt fossil fuels used in farming from the carbon tax. Let’s advocate for these measures but pass a carbon tax.

David Voigts is a retired ecologist and the current Conservation Chair for the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society. He is a Tama County native, graduating from Dinsdale High School, and lives in rural Jesup on his wife’s family farm.