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Nearly two-thirds of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll are concerned about climate change, which has been the focus of much discussion since Superstorm Sandy.
Some say the United States needs a tax on carbon emissions to mitigate global warming and generate revenue to finance infrastructure projects to reduce damage from storms.
Slightly more than half of respondents support such a tax to counteract climate change, but 18 percent say they would support a tax only if it is revenue-neutral. Forty-eight percent oppose a tax on carbon emissions.
Opponents say a carbon tax would hurt the economy in general and low-income people in particular, because they spend more of their disposable income on energy.
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that “anyone who says there is not a change in weather patterns is denying reality.” And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “While the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of (climate change), the risk that it might be … should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”
A few weeks before the storm, reinsurance giant Munich Re issued a report that said the frequency of natural disasters has been rising dramatically since 1980. That report echoes the findings of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said that increased risk will force governments to alter how they respond to climate change.
Roughly 840 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Nov. 26 and 27.
Are you concerned about climate change?
Very concerned: 42%
Somewhat concerned: 20%
Not very concerned: 17%
Not at all concerned: 21%
Do you support a tax on carbon emissions to counteract climate change?
Yes, but only if it is revenue-neutral: 18%
If people remember back in the ’70s, we all were going to freeze because of the upcoming ice age that was going to destroy everything. Climate change is cyclical. The overall mean temperature has been rising and falling for millions of years. The whole idea of the United Nations and Al Gore making billions of dollars on you paying taxes to displace your carbon footprint is total fraud!
I think it’s incredible that a number of our prominent federal congressional members deny that global warming is a problem—even to the point that they deny it’s even happening. I hope they come to their senses.
—Al Schnucker, Schnucker Packaging Inc.
There is absolutely no question greenhouse gases adversely impact climate. We must use nuclear, wind, solar and replace coal with natural gas as an interim measure. We should also impose significant tariffs on products from China, or any other nation that makes little or no effort to reduce emissions. Larger incentives are needed to help the electric vehicle buyers and implement high-speed rail. The U.S. has the resources and technology to be a world leader in reducing greenhouse gases; all we need now is the will. Our political leaders need look no further than this summer’s drought in the West and Superstorm Sandy to recognize the social and economic impact of continued reticence to act.
—Frank Orienter, retired, RG&E
Ever since Earth was formed, there were and are constant weather changes. Man cannot change the weather—except use it to subject us to more taxes and regulation.
—John L. Sackett Jr., Sackett Farms
We’d better be concerned with continuing to burn fossil fuels unabated. Recent extreme weather events are evidence of climate change and will only get worse. Instead of hydrofracking in New York State, we should pursue sustainable energy alternatives.
This is where science faces off against a society that is ignorant. Ignorance can be corrected. For “stupid” there is no help. Let’s hope that ignorance is what we are facing and we correct it in time. Let’s jump over the fossil fuel bridge to nowhere and start a Marshall Plan for energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy now.
—Ruth S. Young
Carbon tax is just another excuse for the government to pick our pockets. It sounds too much like another power grab where the government manipulates the free market.
A tax isn’t going to change anyone’s behavior, and unless the monies are specifically earmarked for alternative energy development, it won’t help slow the trend of climate change. The only purpose of such a tax is to make folks feel less guilty, as if the “fee” will absolve them of poor energy choices. We don’t need this tax; we need better energy consumption through behavioral changes, and we need faster development of alternative energy sources.
What we have learned from more than 100 years of “study” is that “global warming” (and cooling, for that matter) are naturally occurring repetitive Earth cycles. There is no proof that the cause lies with human activity. However, the study of global warming funded by large taxpayer-funded research grants is big business. It keeps a lot of scientists and academics employed. No global warming, no job! If you want to know the truth about this ruse, follow the money! To say humans are the cause of global warming is fantasy.
—George Thomas, Ogden
How can a tax possibly counteract climate change? It didn’t work the last time the climate warmed back around 1400 A.D. The assumption that a carbon emissions tax would change world climate is erroneous. It’s simply an additional attempt to crush taxpayers and make them even more dependent on government. How much are the Chinese, the world’s greatest polluters, going to be taxed?
This poll was very one-sided with zero information from real climatologists included. The whole topic is nothing but a money grab!
A tax on carbon emissions will only feed the fat hog of irresponsible government spending. It will have no impact on improving the environment.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield
Another tax? Really?
—Stuart Small, Pittsford Insurance Agency LLC
Taxes must be balanced within the global economy. Sadly, we can't afford to tax in United States if China and Southeast Asian markets don't do similarly.
—D. Kennedy, Webster
Climate change—what a farce! A carbon tax will crush businesses who are already buried under a mountain of EPA regulations. This administration is following Saul Alinski tactics word for word. If you don't know that name—look it up.
The climate has been changing for much longer than we humans have existed. When the glaciers receded and formed many aspects of this region wasn't that a result of "global warming"? How many humans and cars and factories were around then? While I believe humans have an impact and we should be conscious of that that impact, in the grand scheme of things, our impact is minimal.
—Peter Short, Pittsford
Carbon tax schemes are just another form of wealth redistribution. By raising energy costs on carbon fuel sources it hurts low- to middle-income families, and retirees the most. Especially electricity, the largest percent comes from coal. If this type of tax goes into effect, it will accelerate our decline and lead to another recession at best.
Twenty thousand years ago, Rochester was in an Ice Age and under 50 feet of ice. I don't think any taxes or campaign pledges made the ice go away, and none will stop it from coming again. Besides, future generations will be too busy digging out from the pile of debt we left them to notice the mountain of ice coming their way.
A couple of years ago, Kevin Williams wrote an excellent article about the fallacy of global warming and I wholeheartedly believe it. And—do we really need another item to tax?
—Daniel Mossien, architect
I believe there is climate change; it has been changing for four and a half billion years and will continue to change in the future. A little reading on the topic will show that in recent history we have experienced 1,500-year warming-cooling cycles that have not been governed by CO2 but by cycles in the energy from the sun (a more intuitive explanation). Generally civilization prospers more in warming periods than cooling periods. We would be better served by spending our money adapting to wherever we are in the cycle than wasting trillions of dollars trying fiddle with the small, if any, changes that come from manmade CO2 levels.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan
This country needs an energy policy.
—Rowland Billy, CIH Galica EHS
In the 1970s, it was global cooling. In the 2000s, it was global warming. Now it is climate change. Yes, the climate changes. It gets warm in the summer and it gets cold in the winter. Do we need yet one more tax so our elected officials can prevent the climate from changing? Probably not.
—Doug Lyon, Lyon Capital Management
I am concerned about climate changes will affect us negatively. Research data seem to show with great probability that there has been a general increase in global temperature. The interpretation about the cause has been focused on human causes. Unfortunately, this limits the search for other contributing factors. I am in favor for reducing human factors that affect climate, health, and nature negatively. Carbon dioxide is one of the factors, but many others remain. Those polluting factors actually indicate inefficient production processes and related financial losses. Since business concerns about pollution are practically non-existing, sadly, we need financial and law-enforcements to protect the environment for the well-being of all of our citizens. Accepted ways are our highway regulating laws. Businesses have to learn that they cannot run rough-shot over the health and well-being of all our citizens. This will also improve their bottom line.
—Ingo H. Leubner
We have temperature data for slightly more than 100 years, yet the earth is 4.5 billion years old. As an engineer with a strong science background, I know that extrapolation is extremely risky. I recall seeing tropical fossils from Cohocton at the RMSC from long before humans existed! I recommend reading Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" for an excellent analysis of the data and the frenzy surrounding climate change.
—Karen Zilora, Creative Scanning Solutions, Inc.
Some people go through all kinds of mental gyrations, denial, head-in-the-sand tactics to convince themselves that either there is no climate change, or we do not have a culpable hand in it. All I can say to them is: Wake up! Every single day another scientific study or report comes out stating the hard facts—we are currently at unprecedented levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. We are cooking the whole planet. There is nowhere to hide, no "Planet B." Through my own efforts, business, contract jobs, and community action groups to which I belong, I have been trying my darnedest to waken and educate people about what we must do to significantly lower our own and our collective carbon footprints. Think of the world we'll be leaving to our children and their children. Many islands and coastal areas under water. Super storms becoming the norm. Droughts causing food shortages. Lack of potable (or any) water killing millions. Please take this seriously before it's really much too late.
—Margie Campaigne, Margie's Green Irene Mart
The science of climate change is indisputable, the consequences potentially devastating, and the benefits of moving to less centralized and more renewable energy sources obvious. The economics are in favor of renewable energy created at home: reduced military expenditures; and possible reductions in the costs from severe climate change (crop loss from drought and floods, disrupted freeze/thaw cycles, damage to homes and infrastructures from storms, etc). How you make the most effective changes may be open for discussion, but the necessity of making changes is not.
—Jeff Schuetz, Mitchell Pierson Jr. Realtors.
At this time, I am more concerned about our fiscal health than I am climate solutions. That is because, in the scheme of things, fiscal health is a short-term issue, and climate conditions demand a long-term solution. I also at this time not in favor of a carbon tax but I could be moved to a revenue neutral version if it can be agreeably defined. I do believe that we need regulations on industries to force more competitive ideas regarding the easing of the climate effects. We are not going to be able to reverse the change as part of it is natural and has occurred over hundreds of years. Other parts, by simple logic, are the things we have done to exacerbate the problem. I believe we should make every attempt at conserving energy of all types and controlling the waste stream to be environmentally neutral. Funding to cover incentives to do this can be approached in a variety of ways, i.e. deposits on recyclables, as has been successfully done in some areas. This issue needs a lot more thought before we go off and start new taxes. Let's hope we can get creative and get the job done.
Mother Nature has been running the show for millions of years, she knows what she's doing. It's the human race that's causing so many issues, not her.
—Rich Calabrese Jr.
I suggest that the reader who answers yes take a couple of geology courses. Or get some geology books out of the library while it’s still legal to do so. The planet has many clues in its rocks and soil. An education might help people understand the real science on this subject.
It's interesting that they have changed the name of the “Big Crisis” from global cooling to global warming to climate change, in less than 50 years. Of course there has to be a crisis. As Rahm Emmanuel said, "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste." The media loves a crisis because they can write/broadcast story after story about it. Politicians love a crisis because they can use it to pass laws and regulations and increase taxes; i.e. gain power. In the case of global warming, thousands of scientists have been able to get billions of dollars in grants from world governments, as long as their research added to the crisis. Any scientist who goes against the wstablishment is branded a heretic and not allowed to publish. Also that maverick is cut off from government funding. Technically, the climate has been changing constantly forever. Nothing we have been experiencing is outside the boundaries of the normal weather patterns as measured over the last few thousand years. The reference to changing weather since 1980 cleverly ignores the global cooling era in the ‘60s and ‘70s and the multiple hurricanes that hit the Northeast in the ‘50s. So, I'm not worried about climate change. I'm worried about politicians who want to manufacture a crisis to pass more regulations and taxes.
The tax should not hit middle and lower class. The manufacturers should be taxed. Vice President Al Gore tried to make people aware of this—but no one paid attention.
No, because the carbon tax will not be used for reducing carbon emissions. It will be used for additional government workers to add to the roster of government employee unions.
To further stimulate and incentivize investment in development of alternative energy resources, renewable, non-carbon based energy producers should be given preferential treatment, such as increased development credits and offering super-low interest loans. We know the market and the need is there; we should be making it easier for innovators and entrepreneurs to bring new systems and products to market. Additional incentives should be given to those who might be able to offer to sell back the excess renewable energy they've produced back to the national grid. More focus on developing alternatives to carbon-based energy will not only help solve our environmental crisis, but the new technologies and products will spur new industries and jobs, which will greatly improve our economic security. My question is, why has it taken so long to arrive at this point? What are we waiting for?
—E. Onoff, Pittsford
If you don't believe in global warming, then please visit NASA's website; in particular http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ . It is a reality that we cannot ignore. However we'd be better off in instituting tax breaks for those utilizing green energy rather than taxing those who are not.
Unfortunately, climate change has become a political issue in this country—largely ignoring the science surrounding the issue. We ignore this risk (and fossil energy depletion) to our peril. Taxing emissions is the most practical way that I can see to change our course towards sustainability.
—Bill LaBine, Airtight Services
The economic system and society need education/understanding and both incentives and disincentives to impact significant change. The significant decline in cigarette smoking over the last 50 years is a classic example.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results
It used to be an imminent Ice Age was upon us, then it was global warming, now they've rebranded as "climate change." The pursuit of government grants knows no limits it would appear. Strangely, nobody seems to want to look at the obvious impact that the big fiery ball of gas up in the sky seems to have on our climate. Nah, it must all be our fault, so tax carbon! This is being pursued like a bad tort case. Since we haven't figured out how to get revenue from the sun's pockets, we're going after the next biggest pocket: humanity. I don't doubt that flatulent sheep in New Zealand are busily adding carbon to the atmosphere along with automobiles and factories, but I suspect these sources of “climate change" are marginal compared to the obvious: solar activity. Certainly the alarmist models have been proven wrong over the last decade, so what's the emergency? Buy a sweater or get some swim trunks and then, when the sea level rises, move inland or build a polder.
Any tax will end up in the general fund. Any increased tax must be offset by other tax decreases to maintain our ability to compete globally while encouraging lower emissions.
If the carbon tax is used as a primer to promote awareness, as well as reward reduction participants (i.e.; "Zero Carbon Footprint"), I am all for it!
—Hutch Hutchison, In T'Hutch Ltd.
Impose any more carbon emission taxes that will further increase utility rates. The carbon emission tax is just another attack on the middle class!
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates, Inc.
This climate change discussion is a bit like the Tea Party tax discussion. Odd that they, on the right, who don't wish to pass a burden of debt on to future generations of Americans are quite comfortable passing an overheated planet on to future generations of Americans. Suppose, that there is no climate change effect from all human activity? Would be wrong to protect our atmosphere and our water and our climate from chemicals that aren't exactly wholesome? Even the “doubters” would benefit from clean air and clean water and stable climate so what's to lose by taking corrective measures?
—Wayne Donner Rush
With each natural disaster, you can always count on the Envirokleptocrats to exploit the tragedy as proof positive of "Man-Caused Climate Change." And, the only solution is to impose a carbon tax! I can't help but notice that those demanding we plebeians make draconian changes to our lifestyles to reduce our carbon footprint are among the most profligate producers of CO2 emissions themselves. Lost in all the hyperbole spewed by these hypocrites is the fact that carbon emissions have been reduced to 1992 levels, without government regulation. Of course the facts have never mattered to these people because saving the planet is just an excuse to get their greedy little fingers in our wallets. It was none other than Karl Marx himself who first proposed using environmental guilt to advance the statist agenda. The names change, but the song remains the same!
11/30/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.