The often-proposed carbon tax would be far more effective in the redistribution of income than in the reduction of carbon dioxide. Presumably, the reduction would occur because the increased cost of carbon-based energy would so curtail its use that fossil fuel suppliers would go out of business. But few drive for the pleasure of it nor do people heat their homes or cook their food because they enjoy paying bills.

When gasoline cost far more than it does now there was little reduction in driving, we just paid more; there was simply no alternative. Nor would there be, if even a prohibitive tax were imposed. Wind and solar can supply but a small fraction of the need for many years to come and we are told that hydropower and nuclear energy may not count as suitable alternatives, although they are carbon-free.

Moreover, should the entire United States miraculously emit zero carbon dioxide, the effect on global temperature over the next 50 years would be a reduction in its expected rise of less than a tenth of a degree. This estimate was made by a panel of distinguished climatologists, briefing Congress on the effect of withdrawing from the Paris Accord. They made this computation using the same climate model developed by the IPCC of the United Nations. 

Clearly, the effect on global temperature of any feasible carbon reduction through even a drastic tax would be insignificant while the damage to our economy would be profound.

David Twining

Corvallis (Feb. 14)

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