Burning fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide. For hundreds of thousands of years, life on Earth flourished, creating a stable atmosphere with a balance between carbon dioxide emissions and their uptake by plants and oceans.
In the past hundred years, our use of fossil fuels has resulted in a major upset of that life-supporting balance. Atmospheric CO2 levels are now about 50 percent higher than they were, and continue to rise.
There will be potentially devastating consequences to life on Earth in this century if we don’t take action.
The basic ethical issue is responsibility. Now that we know our use of coal, oil and natural gas is disrupting the balance of life on Earth, are we going to take responsibility and do something about it?
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We could take a leadership position — in our communities and in our country — and demonstrate to the world that we can have fulfilling lives while contributing to a stable, life-supporting atmosphere.
It may cost us a little more today, but the investment will pay off for our children. It’s like the investment we make by paying for good schools and saving for a college education.
Think of a carbon tax like this investment in the future. By paying more for energy now, we will reduce CO2 emissions and encourage technologies that support our children’s future and the future of life on Earth.
It is the responsible thing to do. America can lead the world in this regard.
Andy Lau, State College