14 November 2008

Double jeopardy, two part solution?

For those of you who read my polemic, you may be surprised to read that I've not seen Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" until last night. None of it was surprising to me. I was aware of most of the data. I was very glad, however, to see it put so clearly for a broad audience. Please see it, if you haven't.

In the news, the EPA Appeals Board just indicated that the EPA should be regulating CO2. The real shocker in that report is the number of new coal plants due to come on line. What are those business people thinking? Have they not thought through the business risks associated with operations that emit so much carbon? A coal powered generator is not something I would want to invest in.

Just now, I read Paul Krugman's article of today in the NYT, "Depression Economics Returns." Regarding the current economic crisis, he says, "Under current conditions, however, caution is risky, because big changes for the worse are already happening, and any delay in acting raises the chance of a deeper economic disaster. The policy response should be as well-crafted as possible, but time is of the essence."

Of course, the same thing could be said of the environment: any delay raises the chance of a deeper disaster. Of the economy and the environment, the environmental issue is far more serious, far longer term - and probably the cheaper of the two to solve!

So here is a two part solution: impose a carbon tax, and reduce income taxes. This dual policy discourages carbon output and encourages people to work. It encourages conservation while giving people more flexibility to manage their own income.

On an unrelated matter, here is a gorgeous web site about watches, which raises the bar on web site design. (Try the French language version.) Unfortunately, it's conspicuous consumption that few people can afford now. Money talks, and a lot of money can afford to speak elegantly. And in the case of the fossil fuel industry, a lot of money can afford to speak in massively parallel cynical deceit.

No comments: