Carbon Taxes – Regressive, and Useless

Al Gore's Global Warming and Climate Change GameI’m going to say it: I believe in climate change. There have been many times throughout our planet’s history that the planet has both been largely covered with glacial ice as well as completely absent of it. 55 million years ago there were palm trees growing in Greenland, and there was no ice on the planet at all up until approximately 35 million years ago. Today’s world, on average, is cooler than the planet’s historical average. I’m going to state something else I feel is obvious; I believe humans have an impact on the planet’s environment and climate. Currently numbering at over 7 billion and counting, human beings are by far the most dominant organism on the planet, and there’s not even a close second.

Not only our numbers massive, we are able to reshape and manipulate the entire planet as we see fit, from the deep seas to geostationary orbit and beyond – something that no other species that has ever lived on the planet has been able to do. And make no mistake about it, everything we do as a species has some sort of impact, with no one pollutant or activity contributing more than the whole of our species’ activities.

Take very close note of my emphasis on the last sentence. Our atmosphere’s gas mixture has not been consistent throughout history, far from it. While the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere currently stands at 0.04%, historically it has been much higher. Even Oxygen, currently comprising 21% of the atmosphere, has been as high as 35% and as low as 10%. Natural fluctuations in the atmosphere’s composition affected life and climate on the planet significantly, almost certainly much more than variations in CO2 concentration alone. While most mainstream climate models look back only 50-150 years…

1955 - 2010 temperature and CO2 data

1955 – 2010 temperature and CO2 data

…it is much more pertinent to look much further back into the planet’s history to determine the true correlation, if any, between CO2 and temperature.

Geological Timescale: Concentration of CO2 and Temperature Fluctuations

Geological Timescale: Concentration of CO2 and Temperature Fluctuations

Anyone that purports to see any correlation in that chart must be some sort of greenseer. Contrary to the climate propaganda the mainstream media continually pukes up, climate science is not “settled” by any means.

But, for argument’s sake, let’s say that I’m wrong, and climate alarmists are right. The science is “settled”, and CO2 emissions are going to warm the planet, change the climate drastically, and result in the extinction of the human race. To use an analogy, the Earth is the patient, “climate scientists” are the doctors and increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere is a potentially terminal illness.

Since the problem has been diagnosed, a solution must now be devised that will reduce CO2 emissions and by extension, the overall CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. If the proposed solution is “carbon tax”, not only will the brunt of the burden fall upon the poor and underprivileged (regressive), it will do almost nothing to significantly slow emissions of CO2 let alone decrease CO2 concentration in the atmosphere (useless).

In illustrating the absurdity of carbon taxes, I would like to begin by pointing out that the people calling for higher taxes on the rich (progressive taxes) are almost always the same ones calling for carbon taxes; namely, the left-leaning mainstream media through their rag publications (I’ve cited the NY Times but there are countless others). However, nearly every economist, even the most leftward leaning, all agree: a carbon tax is regressive and most heavily impacts poor people. It doesn’t take a PhD in economics from Stanford or even a high school GED to figure out why – the businesses and industries that will pay the majority of carbon taxes will just pass these costs along to their customers.

Larry the CEO, Mohamed the Sheik and Bono the douchebag did not spend $50 million on their brand new Gulfstream Jets to stop using them just because the tax on the aircraft and fuel went up a few percentage points. A less rich but still very wealthy person might balk at the higher tax on a Ferrari but it certainly won’t stop them from buying and driving a gas guzzling sports car of some kind; is the CO2 emitted by a Corvette not chemically identical to that of a Ferrari? Someone of even less wealth might choose to buy a Honda instead of a Lexus and someone poorer still might have to buy car used instead of new car and so on and so forth. Consider the poorest people on the planet, they still must buy whatever food they need just to survive and they still require transportation to get to work but will need to dedicate an even greater portion of their meager paychecks to satisfying their most basic needs. The fact is, the poorer a person is, the higher the percentage of their budget will be needed to satisfy carbon taxes and higher energy costs lead to higher costs for all goods.

Higher energy cost don’t effect the CEOs and Sheiks of the world much if at all, but it will certainly make a difference between a poor person having enough money for a week’s worth of food, or having enough money to buy simple 2 cylinder 1 seat ultra economy car, or perhaps being able to afford to use air-conditioning on a blistering hot day. What happened to the rich paying their “fair share”?

To recap, the same people who say “trickle down economics doesn’t work,” are now saying that it will work in the case of carbon taxes. This stunning hypocrisy should not come as a surprise.

A carbon tax is analogous to a doctor treating a patient with a severed femoral artery by giving them morphine – while it makes one part of the body feel great (the brain), it does nothing to prevent the patient from bleeding to death.

Satellite Temperature Data 1979-2013

No big changes here

Those that supposedly believe that continuing to emit CO2 at the current rate will result in an extinction level event have done nothing to demonstrate that carbon taxes, or indeed any other of their harebrained schemes, will significantly reduce global CO2 emissions. Although the US and the European Union together do produce a significant chunk of global CO2 emissions, China’s output alone is higher, and Indian and Russia together produce almost as much CO2 as the US. The US certainly cannot act alone since the US total output is estimated at only 15-25% of the total.

Therein lies the first problem – the world is not going to act in concert on this issue. China, India and Brazil have repeatedly stated that they will not go along with planned reductions in carbon emissions. The recent “monumental” Paris climate conference spawned pledges were almost universally viewed as a joke, with no meaningful progress made to reduce overall global CO2 emissions. Even the left-leaning MSM outlets conceded as much.

Let’s assume for argument’s sake that somehow a global carbon tax can be mandated, at a rate of 25% (or whatever rate is deemed necessary to save the planet). The assumption is that such a tax will reduce energy consumption and that the resulting revenue can be allocated to research and development of “clean” energy sources. Has anyone demonstrated a plausible model of a reduction in emissions that will be meaningful or even large enough to counteract the effects of population growth? I certainly have been unable to find one. Energy demand is relatively inelastic and consumers of energy will not meaningfully reduce their consumption. Many consumers of energy will simply pay more and as previously stated this new economic burden will hit the poor the hardest. Energy consumption is directly correlated with standard living, so while the rich continue to enjoy their private jets, those at the margins will be forced back into poverty through higher prices for energy. Just look at how much CO2 we’ve put into the atmosphere over the last 50 years:

Global CO2 Emissions 1955 - 2011

Global CO2 Emissions 1955 – 2011

Even if the “tax” reduced output by 25% (it wouldn’t even come close), look at the level of CO2 emissions annually. If CO2 is as dangerous climate alarmists claim, our demise is clearly inevitable. Could these ill-conceived plans even delay our demise by a few decades? This is all assuming a carbon taxes reduce overall emissions at all.

Those that believe a carbon tax will go towards funding research on “clean” energy, might examine the example of state lotteries. Even if some funds are allocated to “green” energy development, government projects consistently produce failures and colossal wastes of money; the funds often end up in the hands of political insiders who donated to the right campaign at the right time.

Using the doctor patient analogy again, in addition to the morphine, this is carbon taxes are at best a band aid on a severed femoral artery. The patient’s inevitable death will be delayed by minutes at most.

If CO2 emissions are the disease, and reducing CO2 emissions is the cure, the only way to curtail emissions is to change behavior, and to do so forcibly and on a global scale. Start by looking at the source of emissions increases in the atmosphere:

Global CO2 Emissions by Source

Global CO2 Emissions by Source

Emissions from every segment of this chart would need to be reduced via mandate. Here is a hypothetical proposal that might meaningfully reduce CO2 emissions on a global scale:

  • Force the closure of all coal power plants globally, and put a maximum CO2 output target on any source of power generation
  • Ban coal and wood burning, as well as any other combustible within a similar CO2 emission profile
  • Replace lost power generation with nuclear plants and subsidize their construction
  • Ban any source of heat generation that does not meet strict CO2 emissions criteria
  • Ban deforestation and the destruction of any tree that is not dead and no longer undergoing photosynthesis
  • Provide subsidies to anyone who maintains any plant undergoing photosynthesis
  • Mandate handling manure as a solid and ban liquid manure storage
  • Ban all civilian and non-military government private aviation, and set low CO2 emission targets per passenger
  • Reduce vehicular and aviation military exercises to an absolute minimum
  • Cease production of any vehicle that doesn’t meet appropriate fuel efficiency target, and seize, destroy or recycle low efficiency vehicles, especially luxury and exotic cars
  • Mandate strict CO2 emission limits for all industrial processes
  • Mandate energy efficient building codes, light fixtures, temperature controls

For the record, I’m not in favor of or an advocate of mandating any of the measures listed above, I am merely trying to illustrate what would be necessary to actually reduce global CO2 output. I also do not believe in the hoax perpetuated by the mainstream media that CO2 emissions are detrimental to the environment and a survival threat to mankind.

Editor’s Note: Also “green” energy isn’t carbon free, far from it. Often times the overall “carbon impact” of a so-called “green technology” is not any different than just burning coal or oil or gas. Think about a wind turbine…. well you’ve got to mine all the metals to make it (oil and fossil fuels), you’ve got to melt them and process them and make alloys (oil and fossil fuels), you’ve got to ship them and install them (oil and fossil fuels), you’ve got to install them (oil and fossil fuels), you’ve got to maintain and lubricate them (oil and fossil fuels). At the end of the day many of the so-called green technologies, if you look at the entire product life cycle from mining the raw materials used to build them, they really aren’t any more efficient or greener or less CO2 producing than just burning some plain old oil. This is not often enough stated fact. Same thing with these stupid Tesla cars (all electric cars really), lithium mining is bad for the environment and the used up batteries are toxic waste and then the majority of the electricity used to charge the cars is generated with fossil fuels anyway!

Everything human beings do has an affect on the planet, and it’s up us to keep the planet in a habitable condition. That means not treating the planet as irresponsibly as we have. People trashing a camp site is a microcosm of what humans have been doing to the planet – ruining it for everyone else who uses and interacts with its habitat. CO2 is the least of our worries.

Carbon taxes not only will fail to meaningfully alter human behavior they will do significant harm the world’s poorest. Anyone who supports a carbon tax is either completely ignorant of the facts, or stands to profit from them. Consider this next time you read MSM or government propaganda advocating any form of carbon taxes or carbon credits.

Editor’s note: Also, “green energy” isn’t carbon free, far from it. Often times the overall “carbon impact” of a so-called “green technology” is not any different than just burning coal or oil or gas and it may be even more. Electric cars don’t solve any problems because the majority of electricity is still generated from fossil fuels. Furthermore, the lithium mining required to make electric car batteries is bad for the environment and the batteries themselves become toxic waste when they are all used up.

If you didn’t follow this link in the article above, I urge you to do so now, it has almost everything you need to know about the global warming/climate change hoax.

Duane Norman

Duane Norman is a thirty-something, straight, white male living in the northeastern US, and is a staunch advocate of free markets and legal gun ownership. Duane founded Free Market Shooter and occasionally contributes to Single Dude Travel on issues related to freedom, liberty and the basic human right to self-defense.

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