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Carbon Tax Charade

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It has been interesting to read the comments being made in the run up to the Throne Speech from BC's government this week. Everybody from business to labour to environmental groups and all of their assorted special interest organizations have something to say about what they want it to say. And the government of course has been telling us that it is full of goodies. Mostly what it boils down to is pipe dreams from those with their hands out, and the usual political BS from the government.

Of particular note among the topics being bandied about are what is being said about the environment and the economy. The environmental organizations and most citizens want something more positive done about the environment, particularly global warming. The business community wants to see a growing economy. The government is promising both. It is like promising one can have their cake and eat it too, or maybe like a promise that one can win the lottery without ever buying a ticket.

The business community of course wants to see more economic growth and less taxes. Like hogs at the trough their only real concern is to eat regardless of what happens to anyone else. The problem is that the main reason that we have environmental problems is because we have economic growth and the increasing population that both stimulates growth as well as being a result of it. In fact in the past century we have had so much growth that we are killing ourselves, consuming more globally than we can sustainably produce, much like a run-away cancer spreading through a body.

A responsible government would not be looking to stimulate more growth. Instead they would be developing policies to reverse growth and cut down on exploitation to the point that the planet could once again produce more than was being consumed. Being owned and operated by big business, there is fat chance that any current government would be allowed to do that.

Environmental organizations, for the most part, understand what the problem is, but don't have the guts to push for real solutions. A case in point is the government's proposal for a carbon tax. Nothing more than a shell game that penalizes those in middle and lower income brackets who will be hard put to pay the taxes, while leaving the wealthy free to continue creating greenhouse gasses to their heart's content, albeit at a bit higher cost. A carbon tax by itself is little more than another class based policy that puts the greatest burden on those who can least afford it. But, from a business controlled government, what else could one expect?

So, why do the Sierra Club and other organizations climb on board the government's carbon tax band wagon when it is little more than a bad joke? In a conversation with the representative of one organization the answer was that is was better than nothing. Sadly it is also not much more than nothing, if not worse than nothing. One must wonder if economists and business interests have gained control of our environmental watchdogs. Or, maybe they have just lost sight of how important the issue of global warming really is?

One environmental issue that has been receiving some discussion lately is that of the huge dead zone in the Pacific Ocean off of the Oregon coast. Every summer since 2002 about 1000 square miles of ocean off of Oregon which once was one of the world's most productive marine areas has suffered severe oxygen reduction, resulting in a marine wasteland littered with dead sea life. Researchers at Oregon State University suspect that weather changes due to global warming are a factor.

The loss of fisheries off of our waters is but one of many changes that we are seeing that may be linked to the volume of carbon gasses that we put into the atmosphere as we generate electricity, operate motor vehicles, air planes, ships and other things.

The answer to this problem is not merely making the creation of carbon gasses more expensive as a carbon tax would do. And it certainly isn't the silly carbon trading schemes that have been put forward that move gas production form one place to another. The answer is to produce much, much less carbon gas, something which will not be achieved until there is a firm carbon cap in place with no trading that says we produce this much gas and no more. And a policy that halts and reverses growth so that there is less demand for energy.
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Jerry West grew up on a farm in California and is currently Editor and Publisher of THE RECORD newspaper in Gold River, BC. Graduate with Honors and graduate school, UC Berkeley. Member, Phi Beta Kappa. Vietnam veteran and Former Sgt. USMC
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