This Representation Wants Taxation

The 1.5°C mark is one that seems trivial, almost inconsequential, yet it is one that holds dire consequences for the world environment, including human habituation. The best way to remain below this increase is what the IPCC report discusses: international agreement on restrictions on carbon emissions and an industrial focus on renewable energy. Notably, coal must be almost entirely eliminated—which is a hotly contested subject. Many coal companies promote carbon capture technology, which reduces the effects of coal pollution, sometimes quite effectively. Even this fix, however, will not do enough to reach the needed amount of carbon reduction. Priyardarshi Shukla, the Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, said that “Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes” (IPCC Press Release). This brings up the socio component of the socio-technological fix—that is, while it is physically possible to prevent the global temperature from rising that amount, political, cultural and religious factors present large obstacles. For example, “Carbon taxes are political poison because they increase gas prices and electric rates,” says one research administrator (New York Times). Those who hold anti-regulation political views or believe that humans are meant to dominate their environment because of religion are generally against climate change action, and many politicians are therefore reluctant to enact it. Thus, while there are seemingly practical ways to prevent further warming, such as a transfer to reliance on renewable energy sources or carbon taxes to dissuade nonrenewable ones, human factors prevent them from being seen to fruition.

Although many people argue that climate science is too new an issue to have a reliable base, history shows that this is not the case. The effects of greenhouse gasses have been known for over one hundred and fifty years; in 1861, John Tyndall pronounced in a paper to the Royal Society of London that “any changes to the constitution of the atmosphere ‘would produce great effects on the terrestrial rays and produce corresponding changes in climate’” (Reidy, 13). Although he did not have the instruments to produce hard, quantitative data, today we have the ability to determine the atmospheric composition of past centuries based on geologic strata. Based on this data, carbon amounts in the atmosphere have dramatically risen since the industrial revolution. Climate science is not too new, but it is too often ignored.