Why taxing CO2 is immoral

Recently a friend of mine asked me what I thought about the Wall Street Journal piece, “A Conservative Answer to Climate Change” by former Republican Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker–which is the latest of many calls by certain Republicans and industries for a “carbon tax.” (A tax on carbon dioxide, definitely not the same thing as carbon.)

My friend found my response helpful so I thought you might, too. (I recommend at least skimming the original article for context.)

I disagree with its premises and with its reasoning even on its own (wrong) premises.

They assert without evidence that the “risks associated with future warming are so severe…” As I argue in MCFF this is a 35-year-old argument that would have to prove a combination of runaway warming and human inability to adapt, quantified by accelerating temperature rises and growing numbers of climate-related deaths. But the temperature rises are small and climate-related deaths are at record lowsThus, we can conclude that our energy technology is not the cause of climate danger but the solution to climate danger.

And if we did face a catastrophic threat from CO2 emissions the kind of mild CO2 tax they propose would be way too timid an action–and way less effective than removing technophobic restrictions on nuclear.

My experience with both Schultz and Baker is that they enjoy taking stands that ingratiate themselves to the cocktail party elite. I am sure this anti-fossil fuel positioning will help them achieve that goal. It will surely not protect poor people from our naturally dangerous climate nor from their natural energy poverty.

New Workshop: Energy Messaging 2017, Challenges and Opportunities

In recent years the oil and gas industry has learned the hard way that effective messaging is not a luxury—it is a necessity, whether to maximize the chances of project approval or maximize the motivation of employees.

In this workshop, Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels and an innovator in energy persuasion, will discuss how to navigate the most important messaging challenges and opportunities that companies face in 2017.

  1. The lessons of opposition successes: Many opposition successes, including DAPL and Keep it in the Ground, have been far more effective than industry expected. Understand why the opposition was so successful, what we can learn from them, and how we can approach them and other emerging opponents going forward.
  2. The future plans of the opposition: With an understanding of the fundamental motives and strategies of the opposition, along with a survey of their nascent tactics, we can anticipate many of the threats they will pose going forward—and be prepared to meet them with the most effective messaging.
  3. The evolution of media: The media by which messages are transmitted is evolving rapidly, and most companies and associations are behind the curve, focused on lower-performing media (such as expensive television ads) or under-utilizing social media.
  4. The rise of the Trump administration: The Trump administration is introducing not only new energy policies but new energy messaging. Learn what the key messages are and how they may impact you.
  5. The rise of ambassador programs: Numerous oil and gas companies have started ambassador programs as an external communications strategy, on the premise that employees are the best spokesmen for the industry. Learn what is and isn’t working, why, and how you can cost-effectively create an ambassador program that works.

The workshop will be 4 hours, giving participants ample time to ask questions about their specific situations. Additionally, participants will be given Epstein’s Stakeholder Strategy System tools to draft custom strategies for their own companies.

Participants will come away from the workshop with a powerful understanding of their most important messaging challenges and opportunities and a gameplan for addressing them.

This workshop is also available in speech form.

If you’re interested in learning more and/or scheduling a call with Alex to discuss, email us.

“I found this idea very original, interesting and beautiful. It is certainly new, you don’t see this humanist framework applied so explicitly today, so people would be curious about it. It will show in what I think is going to be a clear way (judging for your lectures and Power Hour) how it will serve a purpose, so people are going to be very motivated about it. And since it isa practical way of having human life as a standard of value, as it is applied philosophy, I consider it will be one of the most beautiful life enhancers of today.

I think you already know all that, I’m telling you so you can know what I think about it and how you are being understood, even in Argentina!”

— Julian, early feedback on The Human Flourishing Podcast