A sensible take on climate change

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Illustration by Daniel Stewart

Spencer Stout, Reporter

For once, Democrats and Republicans are both right about something. But of course, neither side is willing to admit it.

Ever since the first scientific study revealing the effects of carbon emissions on our climate was published in 1896, our two party system has pushed Americans into either the pro-business or pro-environment camps. And with the exception of Carlos Curbelo, a Republican Representative from Florida, and the handful of other moderate politicians that have been bold enough to work across party lines, Republicans and Democrats have fought each other to a stalemate on the issue of climate change.

Leading Republican leaders have argued that any attempt to combat climate change would kill the few remaining American-based businesses, while Democrats have argued that America needs to shift to renewable energy sources before it is too late.

Here at Hereford, there has been a rise of annoying and unnecessary conservative and liberal Instagram pages that have fueled a whiny social media battle seemingly more directed at smearing the other side’s beliefs than anything else, including the issue of climate change.

Following the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which several studies have revealed were strengthened by the effects of climate change, it is obvious that Democrats definitely have a point. However, with the highest corporate tax rate in the world (almost 39 percent), Republicans are also right in saying that increasing taxes could be the last straw for several American businesses. So which party do we side with? The answer is both.

The legislation that has received the most support from Environmentalists is a Carbon Tax, or a bill that requires businesses and individuals alike to pay a fee for all carbon released into the atmosphere. The thinking is that by enacting this tax, the cost for using green energy sources will be lower than the cost for carbon based energy, causing the country to shift more towards a healthier energy state.

However, this bill would have quite the opposite effect. Because capitalism rules, companies will go wherever they can to produce goods at the cheapest cost. In today’s world, countries like India, Indonesia, Vietnam and other underdeveloped countries dominate the manufacturing markets.

Aside from the fact that minimum wage and child labor laws are practically non-existent, none of these countries have environmental regulations. As a result, any rise in manufacturing in these countries releases greenhouse gases at rates significantly higher than here in the US. Therefore, not only would a Carbon Tax kill American manufacturing jobs, it would also make things worse for the environment.

The law America needs, and could agree upon, would be a law that greatly cuts down on the corporate tax rate for companies that use green energy sources, such as solar, wind, nuclear, and other renewables. This legislation would have the same intended effect as a Carbon Tax, but it would make the shift a pull-factor, not a push-factor.

Matt Kells (’18), who plans on joining the Republican Party, said that he finds this legislation would be “a fair, pro-business way to fight global warming.”

Mackenzie Martin (’18), who identifies as “politically liberal,” said that “she’s in favor of anything that helps the environment.”

This bill could be exactly what America needs, because in the long term it will provide a healthier environment, a return of American manufacturing jobs, and eventually an increase in tax revenue, because the increase of tax revenue from American based companies will outweigh the initial tax dollars surrendered to this legislation.

 

This school year, I encourage people to rethink their perspective on climate change and understand that it’s actually possible for everyone to agree on something.