With all eyes focused on Ukraine, has anyone noticed the onslaught of equally distressing and related news?
A whole year’s worth of rain fell in just four days, flooding Australia’s entire east coast. Endangered Florida manatees are starving because of pollution. Extreme heat and ocean acidification are killing the sea grass on which they feed. The world’s oceans and waterways are drowning in petroleum-based plastic.
Russia’s invasion, which threatens to ignite nuclear disaster, is funded by oil and gas.
This all-consuming humanitarian crisis illuminates our petrochemical addiction renders the world’s greatest impotent in the face of Putin’s fossil-fuel-powered blackmail. Ironically, it has also smothered the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent climate crisis report, which warns against the apocalyptic perils of doubling down on fossil fuels.
As war and economic sanctions further strain pandemic-battered supply chains, politicians consider cutting gasoline taxes to ease prices, an alarmingly shortsighted reaction. Artificially lowering the market price of fossil fuels merely conceals their devastating impacts on people and on the natural life-support systems required for survival, health and quality of life.
Gas tax “holidays” are petrochemical subsidies in disguise; They prolong humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels, amplify the greenhouse gases driving global climatic chaos, and perpetuate war, exploitation, conflict, violence, suffering and destruction.
We can stop this endless interconnected cycle, and the oligarchs and petro-dictators who profit at our collective expense, by requiring polluters to pay a steadily rising price on their toxic carbon and methane-generating products. Price this oil and gas pollution to reflect its actual cost to society. And return that collected revenue to we the people in monthly dividend checks.
This carbon fee and dividend approach puts extra dollars in Americans’ pockets immediately, cushioning the impacts of inflation, while also incentivizing investment in affordable, reliable, efficient, renewable energy like community-generated solar, wind and storage.
Now is the time to accelerate production and installation of clean energy to create local jobs while offering lasting energy independence, freedom, health and a climate-safe planet.
In our unpredictable and overwhelming world, we need visionary strategies that multiple problems at once.
Rose Ann Witt