America has always been a country of innovation and inspiration. Whenever we are told a task is too great we have proved the world wrong. From putting a man on the moon to developing a polio vaccine, we have always stepped up to the challenge. Because of this we have become a prosperous country and our global influence has greatly benefited us at home. However, the world is still extremely reliant on fossil fuels that are finite in their amount. Eventually we will start to spend a more significant proportion of our GDP on fossil fuels inherently taking away funds normally spent in other areas. Whether you believe in climate change, or whatever political party you side with, I think everyone can get behind the idea of promoting a more prosperous America while also improving our national health level at the same time. Shifting away from fossil fuels now before the rest of the world will allow the United States to continue to be a global superpower and I think the first step in the right direction starts with a carbon tax.
We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels forever because they will eventually run out. For example, oil is expected to be depleted in the next 50-100 years. This is a great opportunity for American creativity and ingenuity to thrive again. We are starting to see signs of this happening already. In 1954 solar cells had an efficiency of only 6%, now solar cells are up to 34.5% efficiency, showing that as we continuing to refine our technology as at the pace of current necessity. Imagine if we encouraged this sort of innovation what the possibilities could be. Encouraging this sort of innovation though a carbon tax will make it easier to make the transition to a more sustainable source of energy before the rest of the world does. While the rest of the world would be struggling to change from fossil fuels, the United States will be spending that time and effort in other areas improving the lives of our citizens or improving our national security. This will allow the United States to continue to be a significant global influence and I believe a carbon tax is the first footsteps in the right direction for a prosperous America in the future.
A common argument against a carbon tax is that it is detrimental to business and cost will ultimately trickle down to the consumer which is bad the average person. While this is true to an extent, there are many things that are taxed that both republicans and democrats are okay with. The first thing that comes to mind is tobacco. The reason we are okay with taxing tobacco is because it is harmful to the user and also because of the second hand smoke effects that are detrimental to others as well. I think these are two very similar attributes between tobacco and fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have been proven to produce toxic pollutants that are detrimental to human health. For example, in a study by the University of Washington under professor Timothy Larson faculty studied pollution levels and their correlation to emergency room visits for asthma attacks. The study concluded that they were directly correlated. In addition to this the study also found that children born without asthma that moved closer to a high density freeway were significantly more likely to develop asthma. These adverse effects justify a tax to protect the people that are affected by the decisions of others and to themselves, just like smoking.
The world will eventually have to shift away from fossil fuels. The question is how long are we going push off the inevitable. Einstein once said “Necessity is the mother of invention” and a carbon tax is nudging necessity closer in a healthy manner allowing for American ingenuity and creativity to thrive once again.