“All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
You don’t have to look too hard in the press to realize that Republicans are more likely to deny global warming or climate change compared with Democrats or undecided voters. As I had posted in a previous blog, they’re also the least likely to start to believe the evidence. As has been witnessed over the last decade, while Democrats and Independent voters have shown steadily increasing percentages who believe the evidence for global warming, the Republican believers have decreased over that same time period, from 49 to 29 percent.
However, perhaps there’s some hint that even Republicans are becoming tired of fighting the truth. Former congressman Bob Inglis is urging his fellow conservatives “to stop denying that humans are contributing to global warming.” Inglis, who was defeated in 2010 by the Tea Party, has launched an initiative through George Mason University. Entitled the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, its purpose is to push “conservative solutions to America’s energy and climate challenges.”How will it do this exactly? It plans to push for a carbon tax. By creating higher taxes on gasoline and carbon pollution, it’s hoped this will be part of the solution.
Here’s a video with Bob Inglis and Art Laffer, a former economic advisor for Ronald Reagan, explaining the concept further.
A tax on carbon has often been suggested as one way to deal with our addiction to fossil fuels, but it’s not necessarily a good way. One criticism (and one that usually comes from those on the right wing of the political spectrum) against a carbon tax is that it’s simply another way to tax the rich. Since the wealthiest people consume the most fossil fuels generally, conservatives (who don’t tend to like taxes in general) tend to be critical of a carbon tax. Bob Inglis deals with this by planning to cut income tax so that overall it’s revenue-neutral.
Another problem with a carbon tax is that the funds generated by the tax aren’t necessarily earmarked for use toward the solutions needed to combat the problem of increasing emissions. If the funds generated were put directly into the research and development of renewable sources of energy say, or toward the planting of green spaces to help replace the forests around the globe that we’re destroying, that might actually help. But the funds usually aren’t destined for such projects but rather are put into the large pot known as the global budget.
In other words, the only possible solution to be gained from a carbon tax if the revenue generated isn’t going into green solutions directly is to serve as a deterrant to using fossil fuels because of the higher costs associated as a direct result of that tax. And if income tax is going to be cut to compensate for it as Inglis advocates, I’m really not sure his idea is going to create any revolutionary solutions.
But what’s more important to me than his proposal at this point is that here’s a Republican urging his fellow Republicans to take their heads out of the sand with respect to global warming, accept the evidence and look toward solutions that can fit within their conservative ideologies. And he’s not even the only one. He has the support of Gregory Mankiw who is Mitt Romney’s economic advisor for his current presidential campaign, and had previously served as the chief economist for President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.
I believe finding climate solutions that will fit well with conservative ideologies is easier said then done, but I still consider this a step in the right direction. Now to move onto bipartisan cooperation.