Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, climate scientist, communicator, educator, and CCL science advisor, spoke at Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada’s Carbon Fee Prosperity conference last month. Dr Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is director of the Climate Science Center. She is also an evangelical Christian married to a baptist minister.
In her talk, Dr Hayhoe talks about how to discuss climate change with people whose values may differ from your own. It’s very insightful and helpful.
SAN DIEGO, MARCH 3, 2014 – An aggressively-priced carbon tax in California, with revenue returned to the public, would actually grow the state’s economy and increase jobs, according to a new study released by Citizens Climate Lobby.
The study, prepared for CCL by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), looked at the economic impact of revenue-neutral taxes that start low and level off at $50-, $100- and $200-per-ton on carbon-dioxide emissions. In each case, the study examined two methods of revenue return – across the board cuts to income, sales and corporate taxes (ATB) and direct payments to households through a fee and dividend (FAD) system.
Under the most aggressive scenario – a carbon tax steadily rising to $200 per ton of carbon-dioxide by 2035 – the study found that the “tax swap” could add 300,000 jobs in California, increase annual GDP in 2035 by $18 billion, increase annual income by $16 billion by 2035, and reduce carbon emissions to less than 75% of 1990 levels.
“Detractors have said over and over that a carbon tax will tank the economy and kill jobs,” said Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens Climate Lobby. “This study blows that assumption out of the water. It shows that a carbon tax will actually create jobs and be good for the economy, provided the revenue from that tax is recycled back into the economy.”
Under the Fee and Dividend scenario – revenue returned directly to households – the $200-per-ton tax would see a net gain of 236,000 jobs in California by 2035 with GDP up by $2.5 billion annually.
The REMI study does not suggest that a carbon tax should replace California’s cap-and-trade system set up under AB 32. In fact, the study says “it is perfectly possible for the two to coexist and reinforce the same objectives of reducing carbon emissions (both policies).”
Last summer, REMI prepared a similar report about the effect of revenue-neutral carbon taxes in Massachusetts – the highest scenario $45 per ton of CO2 – which found that, like the California study, the state would see an increase in jobs and GDP. Since then, three of the five Democratic candidates for governor in Massachusetts have announced their support for a carbon tax.
“Economists from both ends of the political spectrum have argued that a carbon tax, with revenue returned to the public, is the most efficient and effective way to reduce emissions that are changing our climate,” said Reynolds. “We now have the studies to back up those assertions, and there will be more to come.”
Citizens Climate Lobby, a non-partisan advocacy organization with more than 150 chapters in North America, advocates for a national revenue-neutral carbon tax and will hold its 5thinternational conference in Washington D.C. June 22-24 2014. CCL plans to have volunteers meet with every congressional office on Capitol Hill.
Here in Northern Ontario our lovely boreal summer is in full swing. The blueberries are starting to ripen, the ethereal call of the loons drifts up to our windows at night, and the zucchini are plentiful. This summer in my community we are lucky to be growing some “really cool old squash” that Winona LaDuke gifted to us with during her visit here last September. The squash seeds are descendants of 800 year old seeds found preserved in an earth ball at an archeological dig in Wisconsin several years ago.
Unfortunately, this summer also brings ominous news from the arctic; some maverick climate scientists are even suggesting that one cyclone could break up what remains of the summer ice cover by this September. This means the summer polar ice cap will be G-O-N-E. Right now, for the first time ever, there’s a lake covering the remaining ice, as this photograph by the North Pole Environmental Observatory shows:
I’ve just returned from a 5 day canoe trip that gave me the opportunity to disconnect from the cyberworld, and to refresh my mind and spirit. It was jarring to return and be confronted with even more alarming evidence of the climate precipice upon which we are poised, and yet note that “business as usual” continues.
After spending an evening logged on to my computer absorbing the latest climate news, and feeling the impact of that on my psyche, I knew that it was time for me to shift gears. The science of climate change is clear to anyone who chooses to examine what the scientists are saying, or even is willing to look at the evening news or out their window. What is just as clear is that people are choosing, en masse, not look this monster in the eyes. When I started blogging in the fall of 2009, it was because I was becoming aware of how acute the threat of climate change is to my children’s future and as a mother I felt compelled to act on this knowledge. Blogging about it was a way for me to educate myself as well as raise awareness. It also became the way for me to connect with other concerned people inside and outside Canada. While I’ve shed many a tear as I researched my blog posts, I will remember the past four years on 350orbust as a stimulating ride, full of twists and turns and surprises. In the process, I’ve not only learned a lot about climate science and climate activism, I’ve learned about myself and “life, the universe, and everything”.
In 2013, the pace of climate change is quickening. It is no longer something that is going to happen to my children and grandchildren, it is something that is happening in my own backyard, and across the globe, right here and now.
Eat, Pray, Garden, Breathe. Repeat.
We are hurtling headlong into a time of great change, and I want to be using my time and energy wisely in the days and months ahead. That is not to say that I think we’re screwed and it’s time to throw our hands up in despair. Absolutely not; exactly the opposite. As France Moore Lappé writes in her most recent book, EcoMind (which I highly recommend):
To those declaring our species’ near-future demise, I find myself wanting to shout, Wait a minute!
Half the world is getting by right now on a daily sum equal to the price of a single American latte – or less. About 1 billion of us lack the food and water we need. In the Global North, millions are struggling and stressed as well. Even before the Great Recession, it was estimated that almost 60 percent of Americans will live in poverty for at least a year during their adult lives. In short catastrophe is already the daily experience of huge numbers.
So here’s my question: Too late for what?
I agree with [Ross] Gelbspan that it is too late to prevent the massive change in the climate we humans have taken for granted for thousands of years. Erratic, extreme, and destructive weather is already with us. It is too late to prevent suffering. Terrible suffering is already with us.
But it is not too late for life.
The cracks in our unsustainable way of life are showing, and getting bigger every day. But as Leonard Cohen has written, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in. There’s the possibility, the glimmer of hope, that fundamental change will come from the convulsions we will all be experiencing from our collective inability to “connect the dots” between our every day actions and choices and the impacts these have on other, unseen, people as well as the earth that sustains life.
Am I fearful when I consider the scope of what is facing us? I am well acquainted with fear, but while it may seem counter-intuitive, I can say honestly that I am less fear-filled now than at any other time of my life. The things that I used to be fearful of , like not “keeping up appearances” (whatever that might mean – being at the “right” weight, wearing the “right” clothes, having children who reflected well on my parenting, etc), don’t seem important any more. Even the ultimate fear in our society, death, doesn’t hold the same power over me. Our culture teaches us to be obsessed with amassing external wealth and the outward trappings of “success” in large part because we are also taught to be afraid of dying – and this includes most people who identify themselves as “religious”. The unspoken lesson is that if only we surround ourselves with enough “stuff” we will be immune. Ironically we can forget to enjoy life, so focused are we on accumulating. What is clear now is that we are hastening the death of the ecosystem that sustains us because of this blindness. Immersing myself in the darkness of what we collectively are doing to other people, to our children’s future, to our biosphere and to those beings that share this planet with us has made me realize that there are worse things than dying. Continuing to live according to the shallow and destructive values of our society is one of those.
The time has come for me to focus my energies away from 350orbust to other things. Canada’s Citizens Climate Lobby is gearing up for our first official conference and lobbying days in Ottawa November 16 – 18th, so that’s one of my top priorities.
My local transition group is one of the places- next to my family and my garden – that I draw the most energy from, so I’m going to spend more time on working with this great group of people to increase our local resilience. I also manage their website (although not very well these days) so you can visit me at TransitionRedLake.wordpress.com. My understanding and supportive family will also be getting a little more of my undivided attention, because I can’t think of a better place to continue building resilience and community than right here under my own roof; and besides, they are a lot of fun to spend time with!
I also feel compelled to stay connected with the people of Fort McKay and Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta after meeting some of them and hearing their stories during the Tar Sands Healing Walk early in July. I’d like to help other Canadians hear their shocking stories of having their land, their traditional food, and their families poisoned because of the unchecked expansion of bitumen extraction in the tar sands. What is happening there is just wrong.
This is my opportunity to say thank you to my faithful readers – and even the not-so-faithful ones! Knowing that you were out there, checking in when you could, and giving me feedback when you felt moved to, has made this journey such an inspiring one. Many of you have touched my life, and for that I say “meegwech”, (an Anishinaabe thank you).
I don’t want to leave you without resources. You are welcome to touch base with me on Facebook (Christine Penner Polle) or follow me on Twitter, @350orbust1, or on Pinterest (350orbust). I can still be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, although I plan to spend much less time on my computer and much more time in my garden. 350orbust won’t be completely inactive, as my weekend posts are set for the next few months as well as some video links that are set to be shared.
I’d love to meet you in Ottawa during Canada’s Citizens Climate Lobby National Conference. My recent trip to Washington to participate in the 4th annual Citizens Climate Lobby International Conference & Lobbying days had a huge impact on me and my climate activism, and I think Ottawa will be equally inspiring. The conference will include training in lobbying for change, which would be helpful even if you choose not to participate further with Citizens Climate Lobby.
If you want to follow what’s happening with the climate, there are excellent websites out there, which I’ve listed a few of below. I would also recommend that you follow Paul Beckwith, an “unmuzzled” Canadian climate scientist who studies abrupt climate change. You can find him on Facebook or on Twitter (@PaulHBeckwith) or on his blog on the Sierra Club Canada website. If you are on Facebook, “I Heart Climate Scientists” page is great to follow for regular updates and graphics to share. If you are in need of inspiration or a boost on a bad day, check out Upworthy.com.
For the latest on our changing climate:
The experts of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group post updates on ArcticNews.
Climate Nexus is also a great resource. They are “a strategic communications group dedicated to highlighting the wide-ranging impacts of climate change and clean energy solutions in the United States.”
I wish you joy on the journey, and I won’t say goodbye but rather à la prochaine –until next time!
It was no easy feat trying to keep my cool while racing in my high heels between Congressional and Senate offices in the scorching D.C. heat last Tuesday. More than once I wondered about the wisdom of leaving behind the comfortable Red Lake summer to join nearly four hundred other citizen lobbyists from across the U.S. and Canada who were fanned out across Capitol Hill, making the case to U.S. lawmakers that it was time to put a price on carbon pollution. Was all our effort worth it?
After my last appointment of the day, I walked back to the hotel with George, a commercial fisherman from Alaska. He talked about the devastating impact of the warmer and more acidic ocean on his livelihood. As we said goodbye and I gratefully stepped into the air conditioned hotel lobby, my attention fell on the newspaper headlines about Alberta, where people were losing lives as well as homes during that province’s second “100 year” flood in 8 years. I realized then that although my fellow climate lobbyists and I face an uphill battle to get a carbon fee and dividend bill passed, so did David when he and his slingshot faced off against Goliath. And you know how that story turned out. As Nelson Mandela so powerfully said, “It only seems impossible until it’s done.”
Hope you are enjoying a relaxing long weekend Friday, as we are. One of the topics that has come up while we relax and sip our morning tea is the plans for our garden this summer. Besides just talking about it, my husband, also spent time this morning tending to his basil seedlings and babying the green pepper plants that he brought indoors in fall, which are amazing all of us by blossoming and setting fruit. Here they are:
In case you need some inspiration to start planning your garden – whether it’s in pots on your balcony or on half an acre, here’s a video narrated by one of my eco-heroes, Dr. Vandana Shiva, about how planting a garden can change the world: