Opinion: It’s not smart to put the economy ahead of protecting climate

In the guest editorial in the Nov. 24 edition of this paper, Emerson Lynn scoffs at the recent launch of an effort to introduce a carbon tax. The tax, he says, will stunt economic growth and affirm Vermont as an expensive place to live. He does acknowledge that a carbon tax would be an effective way to reduce fossil fuel use and address climate change. But economic growth and job creation is more important than addressing climate change, in his view.
What kind of jobs and economy will there be, or human civilization for that matter, if we don’t address climate change? The answer is none. We behave as if climate change is a television show or video that we are watching safely from our couches. But it is here, it is real life, and it is and will affect us all. Addressing climate change will involve changing and adapting an economic system which has never valued the natural systems which support life on this planet, and which has never taken into consideration the welfare of the greater human community, or of those to come in the future.
Changing that economic system will be disruptive and uncomfortable for all of us. Not changing that system, failing to take strong measures to break our addiction to fossil fuels will be even more disruptive and life-changing. We have ignored the warnings of scientists regarding the changing climate for decades. Now there is little time to make great changes — 10-30 years. After that, we are in for catastrophic climate change.
So, when are we going to make the changes we must make for human civilization, and other more innocent life forms, to endure? The ultimate bottom line is environmental, not economic. The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. We need to work together, take action on a carbon tax, and other measures to reduce drastically our use of fossil fuels, and hope it’s not too late.
Heidi Willis

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