The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Letters

May 14, 2014

Large-scale response needed

Robert Samuelson offers a gloomy prospect in his May 12, 2014 Op-Ed, “Climate-change: We have no solution.” He says we have a serious global warming problem we cannot fix because we lack the technologies and the will to pursue these technologies.

He in part blames climate skeptics, but he sounds to me like a denier of another sort. My response is to consider the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Once we create a need, American initiative will kick in as it has so forcefully in the past when we faced other threats.

While liberals are busy calculating their individual carbon footprints, this crisis is growing out of control because we lack a large-scale response. We must reduce our consumption of greenhouse gases over the next 15 years, and nothing changes consumption patterns and generates new industry better than raising the price on the product you seek to phase out. Consider cigarette smoking. Regardless of all the nasty looking pictures of sick lungs and dire warnings about cigarette smoking, none of it seriously made a dent in curbing smoking habits of Americans.  The single most effective method to reducing smoking has been to raise the price. Suddenly people had incentive to quit or find/develop alternative products.

Those of us who have formed the Sunbury Citizens Climate Lobby are not feeling hopeless about the future; concerned, yes, but we have hope and direction. In our meetings we talk about solutions including placing a fee on carbon. For nations that do not place similar fees on the carbon used to produce their products, we advocate that border tariffs be placed on imports.

This addresses the concern that Samuelson, in his op-ed, has about China’s pollution. I believe once the U.S. and European Union place tariffs on carbon, China, which needs to trade with us in order to continue to grow, will come along. I agree we have a crisis, and I do not yet see an immediate complete shift to renewables as possible, but we can foster an environment that promotes a great shift, inspires innovation, and stimulates the economy at the same time. I refuse to be a Hope Denier.

Peterson Toscano,

Sunbury

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