I never took chemistry, economics, or political science in high school. Only the really smart kids took those classes. I steered away from numbers and things that seemed complicated. Instead, I went out for psychology and sociology (because people aren’t complicated?).
Then I got pulled to work on climate change. My complete ignorance about the science, economics, and politics almost turned me away. “This is so out of my league,” I thought, awash in high school memories. It was the people part that captivated my attention. I wanted to know the answers to things like: we’re in this together—why are we fighting, or how did this become a partisan issue, or how can we talk so people will listen? As I got pulled into the work, I realized that the people part couldn’t be separated from the excess CO2 causing the planet to heat up. And the planet heating up couldn’t be separated from sea level rise, fish dying, droughts, fires, insect borne diseases, and so on.
The people part began to teach me about the science part and the economics part and the political part (who knows, maybe I’m smarter than I thought?).
The CO2 comes from burning fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas). I use fossil fuels every day. Most likely you do too. They run the engines of our lives. We need to stop using fossil fuels if we don’t want the planet to overheat. But how do we get people to switch to clean energies?
Okay, now for the people part. What’s the best way to get people to stop doing something? Raise the price. Right?
So if oil, coal, and gas get more expensive (raise the price to account for the impact on health, property, agriculture) and wind, solar, and water get less expensive, we’ll scurry over to the clean technologies.
Not so mysterious, right?
Maybe science and economics are not so complicated.
Here’s why I’m telling you all this. A bunch of people (including me) are working really hard to get Congress to introduce legislation that will put a price on carbon. When that legislation is introduced, I want you to tell your member of Congress why putting a price on carbon is so critical.
Starting to make sense? Once more for good measure? Here are the Cliff’s notes:
The government puts a price of carbon (oil, coal and gas). Revenues are returned to American households. Fossil fuels get more expensive. Clean energies get less expensive. More innovative clean technologies get developed. People start using water, solar and wind to power their lives. Less fossil fuels being burned equals less carbon in the atmosphere which makes for cleaner air, water. And less heat in the atmosphere.
I’m not going to say that we all live happily ever after, but at least there’s a better chance of ever after.