“It’s A Carbon Tax Stupid” December 2012

December 6, 2012
Dr. Steven A. Leibo is the Professor of International History & Politics at the Sage College

I am beginning to think that Winston Churchill’s famous comment that one could always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they had tried all the other alternatives won’t save us this time. I mean let’s get real here.

Governor Cuomo has just told us Sandy will cost some 42 billion dollars money he is hoping the feds will help us out with. Forty two billion dollars! And that is on top of the money we are already stuck for from last year’s horrifically destructive storms Irene and Lee, two examples of a dangerously transformed climate system that the world’s top scientists and indeed the World Bank just warned us again is only going to get worse unless we back off from polluting the atmosphere with more carbon pollution.

And the American population at large is not screaming for a carbon tax?

Ok. I know back in 1993 the then vice president Al Gore tried to put in a carbon tax and it got shot done big time. But this is 2012 — You know, only one year after the American government’s credit rating got downgraded because we could not keep our expenses and revenues reasonably in balance.

And we Americans are not screaming for a federal tax on carbon?

Yes, a minor tax on one of the richest industries humanity has ever conceived. Sure, I know they are so rich they can spend almost anything to try to try to stave off such a tax. We after all just saw their spending power dramatically demonstrated in the last election. Which they did indeed almost manage to buy with the prolific carbon pollution booster advertising, but that carbon spending spree blitz was overcome; yes, we took their best and beat them back.

And now we are still not demanding a carbon tax?

No, let me try this one again. We hear ever day that the government needs even more new revenue sources If it is going to meet its long term challenges to the neediest of us in society, For social security, for Medicare for especially so as the famous baby boomer generation begins to collect those benefits.

And Americans are still not screaming for a federal tax on carbon pollution?
I just don’t get it. Now let me see if understand this. Even as our economy is starting to recover from Wall Street’s excessive gambling with our futures, we still need to employ far more people. Yes employ people whose likelihood of getting those needed jobs if we we’re rolling out an entire new green energy system for our economy would be enormously improved. Jobs that would be bursting at the seams, if we just made green energy a bit more competitive with the infinitely dirtier fossil fuels. Yes, a simple tax that would recognize their true costs from the traditional billions we’ve long spent to defend overseas oil resources to the growing new costs as we defend our shore lines from the sort of damage Sandy inflicted all over New York and New Jersey.

And we are still not demanding a carbon tax that will help avoid the worst of climate change?

Not demanding a tax that would help straighten out the American debt and make sure our society lives up the promises we have made to seniors and the most vulnerable among us?

But don’t take my word for it.. just consult the new report from MIT, far and away our greatest university which makes it absolutely clear that imposing a carbon tax is an absolutely “win win” idea.

And yet we are not demanding a federal tax on carbon?

I just don’t get it. But what I do understand is that this time
Winston Churchill’s famous adage won’t save us, you know, the one that says you can always trust the Americans to do the right thing after they had tried all the other alternatives won’t work. Because this time the alternatives — relying on fossil fuels, letting the wackos hide the reality of their impact on the planetary atmosphere Jut won’t work. Because we no longer have the time to work our way through the alternatives

About Steven Leibo

This entry was posted in American Politics, Energy, The Climate Crisis, WAMC Northeast Public Radio Commentaries and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “It’s A Carbon Tax Stupid” December 2012

  1. Joshua says:

    I see you are a professor of history and politics…… you should stick to those. You are clearly ignorant to the highest degree. Have you ever completed a complex heat and mass balance? Do you realize that most carbon emissions are emitted by volcanoes? The differential equations based on storm formulation are well beyond your scope and do NOT point to carbon emissions having any affect on weather patterns. These storms have been happening forever and this is the first century we’ve been able to accurately record them. Maybe if 80% of our countries’ population didn’t live in flood plains we wouldn’t have catastrophic damage like this. Al Gore is incredibly ignorant to the real facts as they present themselves and never looks at the consequences to jobs, rolling black outs, or possible solutions. If we truly want to be “green” people need to embrace nuclear technologies. If we don’t invest in Nuclear we will fail. Also taxing industrial plants that are monitored and regulated and not taxing commuters is idiotic. Cars are much less efficient than a coal plant and barely monitored or regulated at all. By your idiotic/ignorant thought process we should charge anyone who owns a VW bug prior to 1980 thousands of dollars a year because they are such terrible polluting machines.

    You need to look at the steam cycle and the benefits of using that kind of power and maybe worry about getting more cars off the road with better public transportation.

    We can’t stop India and China from polluting and they won’t change until it’s financially viable…. which it’s not unless Nuclear is improved.

    Seriously stick to history and politics. You should talk about how keeping drugs illegal is destroying our country like prohibition. Keep the economics and science to people who are actually educated.

    You’re an ignorant sad fool and I hope/pray they don’t allow you to teach your leftist moronic BS in any schools.

    Sage college must clearly be a pathetic institution.

  2. Steven Leibo says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment on the carbon tax piece. Sorry you did not find it helpful. For another perspective you might want to look at the study MIT put out a few months ago. It makes a lot of the same points and is well worth reading. You will find it at

    Click to access MITJPSPGC_Rpt228.pdf

    one quick point per your comment about China, they are certainly polluting a great deal but have also become extraordinarily involved in trying to reduce the amount of green house gases they spew into the air and are moving way past us in the development of green energy.. It is quite a story and one you might like to research more.

    Again thanks for writing.

    Steven A. Leibo Ph.D.

  3. doug350 says:

    Joshua … and what are your credentials which qualify you to judge so harshly? I would wager you are a mathematician or a nuclear engineer (nothing wrong with that) or a talk radio junky, none of which qualify.

    Admittedly, I have not done meteorological differential equations or complted complex heat and mass balance calculations, but know they are better left to the experts. That said, having degreed in Industrial Engineering, Operations Research and Petroleum Engineering in 1970 and having worked for three very large corporations, a few small businesses, and CalEPA using those technical and analytical skills my entire career, I have the knowledge and savvy to understand the “differential impact**” of anthropogenic
    “exponential burning**” of carbon fuels.

    [** In your honor, I just now made those up]

    I support Dr. Leibo … you might say we drink the same “KoolAid” of science. Whose “KoolAid” are you drinking? What do you do that is constructive? Seems you whine a lot which doesn’t accomplish anything.

  4. Joshua says:

    Leibo, I’m sorry but that’s a joke if you honestly believe that China is doing more in the way of green power, as they bring on more and more coal plants with almost no regulatory equipment (scrubbers, gas conditioning towers, etc). Do you not see the pictures coming from their cities? At least our cars have catalytic converters.

    Doug350, I don’t believe I judged any more harshly than Leibo did the entire US population that disagrees with a carbon Tax. Do either of you even think about the jobs that we lose when we add stupid taxes like this that help no one? Or the added expenses to the consumer? You might be ok with paying double for your electrical bill but others are not.

    I have done research through undergrad and graduate school surrounding greenhouse gases. Granted I was only a research assistant I still was privy to all the data and ice core sample data we received. We never found a conclusive link between CO2 and “global warming” furthermore I also worked in several companies as a process engineer working closely with the EPA on emissions and the effect they had on the area around our plants. I was a Chemical Engineer by education and a Process Engineer by profession.

    The Kool Aid I drink is also science and personal experience. I do no just whine I contribute to things that will actually help. Taxing industries (really people) does not help anyone. Regardless of what you think it will not make solar plants anymore viable as an electricity source. Photogenic cells are not efficient and extremely environmentally damaging to produce. Algae is a dream. What will happen is that money made from CO2 tax will have to be put into subsidies for those other types of energy which will have an overall zero net effect until people stop producing CO2 and we have more and more subsidies to try and keep up with demand which will only burden our government further. Keep in mind most hybrids have a larger CO2 footprint than common vehicles due to how they’re produced.

    I actually agree with you both in trying to reduce emissions, but if there is going to be investments it should be in Nuclear Fusion and Fission, high speed electromagnetic rails connecting large metropolitan areas, and viable solutions for public transportation. Attacking industries because they’re easy targets is not the answer and will not promote job development or economic growth.

    If we’re so scared of CO2 emissions we should find ways to capture all the CO2 volcanoes emit so that they don’t keep harming the environment. CO2 global warming is a myth that’s been supported for far to long and needs to end. Industrial Engineering = Imaginary Engineering it’s clear you have a very loose grasp of anything I discussed in my first post.

    Keep in mind that a common camp fire does more real damage to the environment in an 8 hour period than most large scale industrial plants do in a year through Sulfur, Dioxin Furans, and mercury emissions. Maybe we shouldn’t let people camp either?

  5. Steven Leibo says:

    Joshua: Thanks for writing back again. About China, yes indeed everything you say is true.. they have polluted their and our environment big time. But of course life is more complicated than that and China is changing fast. Indeed even as they do exactly as you say they are diving big time into green energy development, wind, solar, high speed railroad and closing older less efficient energy plants… That sort of thing is not covered well here in the US which explains the common confusion… if you are really interested I would be quite willing to give you lots of references to what is happening in China. About the carbon tax… how hope you had a chance to read that piece from MIT that I suggested. Those folks really do tend to know what they are talking about.
    Dr Leibo

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