I’ll never forget the day the moose walked by just 20 feet from our window, my wife & I watched this giant stroll across the yard and out the driveway. I saw three on another day in Pisgah, but that was 10 years ago. Now the NH moose population has declined by over 50% due to a warming climate. Not only do shorter winters mean ticks thrive but moose don’t feed when it gets close to 80 degrees. Globally this June & July were the warmest ever recorded and 2014 & 15 set new high temperature records. Carbon dioxide levels have blown by the warning level of 350 PPM to 400 PPM from a long term average of only 280. The greenhouse gas blanket is growing and scientists predict that in 30 years the NH moose population will be almost gone.
Sea levels are rising and storms are much more dangerous and expensive. This is happening around the world. Enough so that over 190 countries signed the Paris Climate Accords to address this threat. While scientists amassed more data and the evidence began to mount the denial industry in the US boomed like the Tobacco industry deception on steroids.
Recently it has come to light that beginning in 1977 Exxon scientists started producing papers that described a scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels was changing the atmosphere. It was unclear that the planet was undergoing a heating trend but if it was, temperatures could rise by 3-10 degrees Celsius, according to one paper. In spite of a decade of these papers on the scientific evidence, by the late 1980’s then CEO Lee Raymond became a leading denier, spending millions often surreptitiously, spreading a message that scientists were exaggerating how much they knew and risks were nonexistent. Since then the fossil fuel industry has spent countless millions of dollars to create doubts as the science has become clearer. In 2002, advisers to President George Bush shifted their strategy to doubt and uncertainty “The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science,” wrote a Republican consultant. “Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.” The phrase “global warming” should be abandoned in favor of “climate change”.
Now the current Exxon CEO acknowledges that fossil fuel combustion is warming our planet and advocates for a price on carbon. They have many assets that are at risk from rising sea levels, storm surges and severe storms. Scientific evidence is mounting that we have already baked in the 3.7 F degree temperature rise that is the tipping point that will unleash dire consequences that may be extremely difficult and expensive to reverse.
There is a solution we can all embrace, a policy that does not increase the size of government and employs market-based incentives rather than government regulations and subsidies, a simple policy proposed by Citizens’ Climate Lobby, “carbon fee & dividend”. A fee, initially $15 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted, would be placed on fossil fuels at the well, mine or port. All funds collected would be returned to citizens as a dividend. During the first year, refunds would amount to about $250 per person. Every year thereafter, the fee & dividend would increase.
About two thirds of us would receive more from the dividends than we would spend on higher fossil fuel prices. The transition away from dirty fuels would be accomplished by the power of the market, without need for top-down regulation or subsidies. The size of government would not increase. The Regional Economic Models, Inc. study found that Carbon Fee and Dividend would reduce CO2 emissions to 52 percent below 1990 levels after 20 years while adding over 2.8 million jobs.
The choice is ours- a clean energy future where all households get a dividend to offset the costs of polluting fuels or will NH children never see a real moose?