Letter To The Editor: Carbon Dividends

By PAUL O. FREDERICKSON
Los Alamos

Carbon Dividends. Many scientists in Los Alamos have a clear understanding that climate change is very real, and cite several observable effects as evidence. One of these effects is the very rapid increase in the number of record amounts of rainfall across the country, or record drought severity, or record heat spells, or record cold spells, various examples of instability in our climate.

See below for more in the way of evidence, but first we want to call everyone’s attention to a possible solution.

The June 20 edition of the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other national newspapers called attention to a possible solution:  a steadily increasing carbon tax on coal, petroleum and natural gas coupled with a carbon dividend, which is a uniform distribution of the proceeds of the carbon tax to all citizens of the country.

This surprising idea was developed by a relatively new organization, the Climate Leadership Council, www.clcouncil.org. Six of the eight members of the council served under either George H.W. Bush or Richard Nixon.  Another member, Rob Walton, was CEO for more than 20 years of the world’s largest retail firm, namely Walmart. The founder of the council is Ted Halstead, who refers to it as a Conservative organization.

The best explanation of the concept is a four-page white paper The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends that can be downloaded from the council’s website. Ted Halstead has written a longer white paper Unlocking The Climate Puzzle that discusses some of the logic and psychology of the council’s proposal.

Other indications of climate change are the significant changes in the ocean currents around the world, and changes in the patterns of the jet-streams, with El Nino a familiar example. The steady increase in the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide, is measurable precisely. Measurement of global warming, an increase in the average air temperature around the world, also is highly accurate. This increase is at about the same rate as the observed increase in greenhouse gases.

Also, computer models of climate change are becoming increasingly accurate. LANL scientists made an important advance by including the coupling between ocean and atmosphere in climate models, and the steady increase in the power of parallel computers has led to even more accuracy. All this explains the importance of the conference in Paris: the nations of the world are coming to an understanding of climate change, and the need for action.

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