American Innovators: Find a Way to Price Carbon
March 22, 2012
The climate denial industry wants you to believe that fossil fuels are “cheap” – and they can be, if you don’t factor in the pesky disease, environmental degradation, and occasional catastrophic war for oil. If we had to actually pay the cost up front of say, asthma from coal fired power plants, prices would necessarily go through the roof. That’s why congress chose to avoid charging the Iraq war to the formal budget, so as to hide the resulting deficit chasm that they are screaming about now and trying to blame on someone else.
Now three iconic American innovators have joined the chorus across the political spectrum to face reality, and put a price on carbon pollution.
The idea of cap-and-trade may be dead, but levying a carbon tax of some type should still be on the table, a panel of innovators and inventors said Wednesday.
Speaking at the fifth annual ECO:nomics conference just outside the posh seaside city of Santa Barbara, Calif., a trio of inventors said a number of measures should be taken to help alleviate climate change as well as wean the United States off fossil fuels. But the idea of taxing carbons put into the atmosphere is sure to incur the wrath of conservatives and businesses alike.
Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive of high-end electric car maker Tesla Motors forwarded the idea of a carbon tax, saying it’s the kind of “disruptive event” that is needed to stave off ecological and economic disaster.
“The market will find a way to sell it,” Musk said.
Added J. Craig Ventner, first to sequence the human genome: “Putting a price on carbon, it has to be across the board for everything we do.”
Musk and Ventner were joined by Dean Kamen, noted inventor of the Segway people mover and hundreds of other devices. The three kicked off the annual event — sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, a sister publication of MarketWatch – by wondering what alternatives to cap-and-trade were out there.
Simply put, don’t look for a silver bullet, Ventner said.
“There is no single answer,” he said. “We need hundreds of answers.”
Kamen added that the entire framework by which new energy sources are invented may need to be altered. For one, he said, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar still are used to power turbines — in some cases steam-powered engines are the energy drivers.
“You’re looking at a 21st Century problem with a 19th Century mindset,” he said.