For the Sake of Our Children
An Open Letter to America, President Obama and Congress
To my fellow Americans, President Obama and Congress,
It’s estimated that more than half of us breathe air that’s dangerous to breathe [i] and 40 % of our rivers and 46% of our lakes are too polluted for fishing and swimming![ii] And every day, we use 62,000 chemicals never given a serious health risk assessment (!), enough to fill 623,000 tanker trucks not over a year but each day![iii]
As Dr. Trasande, assistant director for the Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at Mt. Sinai Medical Center put it, “We are the humans in a dangerous and unnatural experiment in the United States, and I think it’s unconscionable”
And this is what he said about how this affects our children. “We are in an epidemic of environmentally mediated disease among American children today. Rates of asthma, childhood cancers, birth defects and developmental disorders have exponentially increased, and it can’t be explained by changes in the human genome. So what has changed? All the chemicals we’re being exposed to.” [iv]
In 2012, we Americans had the hottest year so far since they started recordkeeping in 1895, the worst drought in 50 years which affected 80% of the lower 48,[v] the hottest 13 years in recorded (world) history had been in the previous 15 years[vi], we’ve just had Super Storm Sandy, almost 1,000 miles wide, the largest in American history, affect 1 in 5 Americans and Exxon’s CEO has recently admitted burning fossil fuels warms the planet![vii]
Enough is enough! For the sake of our children, we need to slow and stop global pollution and warming before it becomes runaway! Now is the time for all concerned Americans to call for the conversion of our economy to Deep Green ASAP — starting with pricing that tells the truth and a regime of Anti-Pollution Tax taxes that will be 100% rebated back to the public…
- to create millions of new, good-paying green jobs, many in clean energy
- to make millions of regular jobs, workplaces and homes continually cleaner, safer and healthier
- to end our addiction to polluting energy, whether oil, coal, gas or nuclear
- to help us become more competitive in the next global growth industries of clean tech and energy
- all of which will lower healthcare costs naturally with healthier air, water, food, jobs, transportation and homes not to mention also lowering crime, the cost of policing, private security and the guarding and “acquiring” of overseas oil.
In order to do this, we need to persuade and pressure Obama to use his presidential authority to convene a nationally televised/online/on radio Green Pearl Harbor emergency symposium, educating our nation about global pollution and warming’s threat and its solution.
It could start with upclose, compelling videos of people in districts whose Representative and Senators don’t believe man-made global warming is real, who used to think the same but who now know otherwise. It could include a Midwest farmer who lost his farm to the recent drought, businesspeople devastated by Super Storm Sandy, the BP blowout, acid rain, shrinking snowfall, families with children suffering from pesticides, mercury and lead poisoning, and asthma from fine particle pollution as well as coal miners suffering from brown lung disease who lost buddies to mine accidents and lung disease and who now wish they and their friends had been installing solar and wind.
Then it could pivot to public health and climate scientists summarizing the various ways our pollution is harming, shortening lives and yes killing American babies, children and adults, harming ecosystems and jobs and its currrent and future costs. The Pentagon will explain why global warming is a national security threat, [viii] and the expense of climate wars, and economists will show how global pollution — greenhouse gas, 62,000 untested chemicals, radioactive, heavy metal, fine particle and genetic — functions as history’s deadliest current and deferred tax and history’s largest uncontrolled experiment on society, our children and their future.
Then it would include a piece on how Exxon while it was funding the same doubt and denial currently believed by so many was ignoring its own internal scientists saying global warming is caused by burning fossil fuels. Following that would be a recent video of Exxon’s CEO finally admitting as much but now doubting its seriousness, saying mankind can adapt but leaving out how Exxon should adapt by stop making profit at everyone else’s expense and become a solar and wind energy company. It could also include an online map where people could see how pollution affects their state and region.
Afterwards, President Obama could sum up the situation and call on Congress and the nation to support a rapid deep greening of our economy starting with a Green, Good-Paying Recovery that will create millions of new, good-paying green jobs and make millions of regular jobs, workplaces and homes continually greener, cleaner, safer and healthier, for everyone.
How then would this Green, Good-Paying Recovery work? First, it recognizes, as the symposium will point out, that pollution, including greenhouse gas, chemical, fine particle, heavy metal, radioactive and genetic” is “the mother of all taxes” — a huge, unacknowledged, unvoted on, increasingly less hidden tax and experiment without our permission on society, our children and their future. And unlike governmental taxes, this tax kills, damages and shortens the lives of Americans of all ages as well as ecosystems we depend on!
Then reflecting this reality, it taxes pollution a) at a predictable rate, giving consumers, businesses and investors incentive, time and certainty to best figure how to continually reduce and eventually eliminate their pollution, and b) at the most appropriate points of extraction, production, addition of value, sales and importation, incentivizing our trade partners to join our efforts. When businesses reduce their pollution, their Anti-Pollution Tax (APT) taxes either go down or slow down depending where they are in their cycle. And when they’ve stopped polluting, their APT tax stops. In short, reducing pollution becomes more profitable than polluting!…and this is one tax that’s meant to put itself and a much larger tax out of business!
As a result, across the economy, ever Cleaner and Safer will constantly underprice and replace Dirty and Dangerous.
So for example, solar and wind will underprice and replace coal, oil, gas and nuclear, organic food will underprice and replace chemical-laden factory farm food, durable will underprice and replace disposable, biodegradable will underprice and replace non-biodegradable, recyclable and remanufacturable will underprice and replace throw-away and safe products will underprice and replace products with cancer-causing components.
So by saving money, consumers and businesses will be helping save civilization!
Is that a game changer or what?
Taxing pollution also uses common sense and fiscal conservatism. $1 of pollution tax today is far cheaper than we or our children having to spend $10, $100 or $1000 on maybe a cure or clean-up/maybe not down the road. That’s why we call these Anti-Pollution Tax (ATP) taxes and this kind of pricing, Real-Cost Benefit Pricing.
So how do we figure out how much a particular product is taxing society and the environment with its pollution and/or toxicity? Thankfully just in time, we have a new science called industrial ecology and a new methodology called lifecycle cost assessments (LCA’s) which pretty much figure out what the real costs are of a product. The schedule of increased APT taxes would be set up to reduce pollution in line with the goals set by the best and most current science, including getting CO2 to 350 ppm as quickly as possible etc. (See for details: http://timetogetsmarter.org/smarter-capitalism/figuring-true-costs-benefits/ )
And what happens with these hundreds of billions of APT tax dollars and how will this Green, Good-Paying Recovery create jobs? First, 25% of these taxes would be deposited monthly, into the bank account of every adult resident who filed and paid taxes the previous year, similar to what they do in Alaska with oil revenue. This will help cushion Americans from initially higher, economy-wide prices and help them buy eco-friendlier products, services and vehicles.
Then, the lion’s share of the remaining 75% will be both added to unemployment benefit income and rebated on a sliding scale, with more going to those making less, in order to:
- help train millions of unemployed urban, inner city, suburban and rural Americans, coal miners, oil workers, contractors and others in especially affected areas and industries on how to install and help them start their own green businesses installing solar and wind, insulation, detoxing homes and businesses etc.
- help apartment house and home owners, businesses and farmers buy and help renters help their landlords buy these same energy systems as well as various hybrid and electric vehicles now powered by their own private energy enterprise with a new motto for America: Your Home and Business Is Your Castle, Make It Your and America’s Power Plant Too!
- help public transit districts lower fares and increase routes and services with ever cleaner energy-powered vehicles
A small portion of the 75% will pay indigenous forest tribes and communities adjacent to rainforests to protect, maintain and restore them as payment for their ongoing biodiversity, production of oxygen and absorption of our CO2. Also part of this 75% could go to help NGO’s help other global communities harmed by our emissions.
If you’d like to help make this happen, please sign the petition at: http://signon.org/sign/call-for-a-national-symposiu?source=c.url&r_by=846894 and spread the word to your network and to as many newspapers, magazines, blogs, websites and organizations you can think of who might spread the word as well.
You may also email me from this website. We, the People need to speak with persuasiveness and urgency. We’re running out of planet and running out of time.
[viii] http://www.defense.gov/qdr/images/QDR_as_of_12Feb10_1000.pdf See pg 84 of the above.