Monday, July 21, 2014

Los Angeles Times Op-Ed:  The Carbon Taxes We're Already Paying

The Environmental Protection Agency has an estimated price for the effects of greenhouse gases: It's called the "social costs of carbon," and is put at $38 per ton of emissions. (Credit: Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles Times) Click to enlarge.
The fact is that American taxpayers are paying for the costs of climate change now.  These costs don't hit us all at once but sporadically, in different places and at different times.  They don't feel like a carbon tax, though they amount to one.  Every time we use fossil fuels, we increase our tax burden, a burden that unfolds like a sequence of trap doors, just like climate change itself.

The costs of recovering from climate-change signposts like Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina and major drought are well documented.  What's less known are the costs — the trap doors — that have normally been accounted for in some ledger other than atmospheric chaos. 

Start with food: Farmers have always faced good years and bad years, but as bad years get more frequent, taxpayers pick up more and more of the tab.  When the Government Accountability Office issued its biannual audit of the government's highest financial risks last year, for the first time since the list was launched in 1990 climate change was identified as a major financial threat, specifically because of the government's flood and crop insurance programs.

Los Angeles Times Op-Ed:  The Carbon Taxes We're Already Paying

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