Year 2, Month 7, Day 27: There’s Something About Julia

More on Australia’s carbon tax plans, from the July 10 NYT:

SYDNEY — Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia announced a plan on Sunday that would tax the carbon dioxide emissions of the country’s 500 worst polluters and create the second-biggest emissions trading program in the world, after the European Union’s.

The plan is projected to cut 159 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2020, the government said. In 2010, Australia produced 577 million tons of carbon emissions, according to the Department of Climate Change.

This is basically yesterday’s letter, rearranged and reconfigured. It’s fun to use the word “nobility” in the same paragraph with a reference to American politicians. It’s kind of like using the word “genteel” while discussing a Farrelly brothers film. Sent July 11:

Washington wants us to believe that unraveling the safety net for our most defenseless citizens in the name of deficit reduction is somehow an act of political courage, since those same citizens (unsurprisingly) don’t like the idea. But conservatives’ hypocritical posturings have always been supported by the wealthiest and most powerful forces in our economy — and with billions of dollars behind them, their casual dismissal of the needs of millions of citizens has nothing of nobility in it. By contrast, Australia’s Julia Gillard has dared to show something few of our politicians can even contemplate: visionary concern for her nation’s future. By imposing a tax on carbon pollution, she’s confronted both the powerful coal industry and the inchoate fears of her fellow citizens. Why? Because Prime Minister Gillard recognizes that the greenhouse effect and its destructive consequences will be far more expensive than any amount of deficit spending.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 3, Day 14: Coal Makes You Stupid (So Does Oil)

An Australian paper, the Mackay Daily Mercury, runs an article noting, unsurprisingly, that Australian coal companies are opposed to a tax on carbon. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? Industries are not known for taking the long view. If corporate charters were set up to encourage century-long thinking, a lot of things might have turned out differently.

Sent March 6:

It’s hardly surprising that higher-ups in Australia’s coal industry are opposed to a carbon tax. Despite their comprehensive and lavishly-funded denial of the facts of climate change, the multinational corporations which have made enormous fortunes from our species’ eagerness to consume fossil fuels are beginning to see the writing on the wall. They’re soon going to confront the limitations of the Earth’s resources and the laws of nature; we’re going to run out of oil and coal — unless the long-term consequences of the greenhouse effect bring our species to an evolutionary bottleneck first. The coal industry needs to be asking how to find ways to employ people once they’re no longer mining coal, not how to avoid paying taxes on carbon emissions. The days when economic actors could easily afford to disregard climatic warning signals are long past; our addiction to cheap energy has become a very expensive habit indeed.

Warren Senders

Month 2, Day 28: Senate Action? Really?

So I learned that Harry Reid has told Kerry to get a climate bill to him as soon as possible. That’s good news. On the other hand, Harry Reid has not exactly been an inspirational figure recently. A Harry Reid Action Figure would fall down when you made a face at it.

I wrote him a letter. I hope he reads it.

Dear Senator Reid,

I read a recent report in the Washington Post that noted your strong commitment to passing climate-change legislation as rapidly as possible. I’m glad to hear this. Global climate change is the most pressing threat humanity has ever faced, and America needs to assume the lead in this matter.

I wish to make two points to you about this legislation.

First, we need to recognize that the cap-and-trade system is fundamentally flawed, subject to innumerable sorts of market manipulation and evasion of regulation. A stronger mechanism would be a revenue-neutral carbon tax, which would reduce emissions as well as provide incentives for research and development in alternative energy sources.

Second, it is absolutely crucial that you not give in to Republican demands as the climate bill approaches the floor of the Senate. The long prelude to the Health Care bill is an example of what I mean; over and over it seemed that you and the rest of Democratic leadership capitulated, not to an actual Republican threat, but to the threat that a threat might be forthcoming.

When our party’s Senate leader seems timid and conflict-averse, it demoralizes the people in the Party who have worked the hardest to secure us our current majority. We need Senators who are going to stand up for what is right, and a strong climate bill is both right and necessary. Do what you need to do to get coal-state Democrats on board with this bill. Give them some earmarks! Promise them green-job development funds! Twist some arms!

We need a fighter in this struggle; there is no time to lose, and none to waste.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders