Doing a little now to mitigate long-term climate change would cost much less than doing nothing and making an adjustment in the future, say scientists whose paper appears in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Science.
Implementing a carbon tax of five cents per gallon of gasoline and gradually increasing the tax over the next 30 years is the optimal solution, the researchers report. "You can think of the tax as a low-cost insurance policy that protects against climate change," said Michael Schlesinger, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a co-author of the paper. "The policy premiums could be used to develop alternative energy technologies."
Because mitigation would impose immediate costs, with any long-term benefit unknown, some scientists and policy-makers have argued that nothing should be done until the uncertainty surrounding the climate issue is substantially reduced. "By then, however, it may be too late and we will have foreclosed certain options," Schlesinger said. "Rather, the uncertainty is the very reason we should implement climate policy in the near term."
James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
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