People versus Carbon Reality

29 September 2014
Author: T. Todd Elvins
copyright (c) 2014 T. Todd Elvins

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s The Climate Reality Project (TCRP) is an umbrella organization with nine major initiatives.  One PeopleVersusCarbonTCRP Initiative, ‘People versus Carbon‘, mobilizes individuals to build inertia for the Environmental Protection Agencys’, and other local, state and federal efforts, to regulate carbon pollution.  “People versus Carbon” asserts that regulation is an important first step towards putting a price on carbon.

TCRP “People vs Carbon” web site is divided into seven sections, five of which are informational and petitions.  The remaining two are videos that analyze and advocate a path to a market-based #PriceOnCarbon.   The one-minute “Cost of Carbon” video discusses the political price of climate denial – voters have the power to elect and re-elect candidates running on a bold climate action platform, and to not vote for climate policy blockers and deniers of science.  The price of climate science denial could and should be expulsion from public office.

The Way Forward” is a six minute video that examines two market-based policies for reducing carbon emissions (solutions to pollution), a carbon tax, and cap-and-trade.  A carbon tax and cap-and-trade seem interchangeable in this video, which we know from Hsu’s seminal book, “A Case for a Carbon Tax“, they are not.  A carbon tax is simpler, cheaper, quicker, and vastly more effective than cap-and-trade.  Attractive to conservatives in Congress, a revenue-neutral carbon tax refunds 100% of proceeds to citizens, so the funds cannot disappear into special interests or a larger government.  As the carbon tax increases stepwise over time, the refunds increase proportionately, so higher taxes do not cause pain and protest.

Let’s apply the CarbonTax Workshop (CTW) metric to TCRP’s “People versus Carbon” initiative

  1. TCRP “The Way Forward” video does a good job communicating the need for a price on carbon.  The video explains how a carbon tax works, and that it is a market-based approach.  The TCRP video mistakenly gives cap-and-trade equal weight. Score: 8.
  2. The TCRP “Cost of Carbon” video does a good job explaining that deniers of science do not belong in elected office.  If you, Mr./Ms. Member of Congress, are not helping to reduce carbon pollution, you are not doing your job, and your cost is that I will vote you out of office.  A carbon tax ultimatum would be even better.  Score: 8.
  3. TCRP videos are freely available on youtube and as of 9/26/14, the two short videos have a respectable 10,000 views each.  CarbonTax Workshop believes that TCRP’s highest priority initiative should be, “People versus Carbon” and a big media marketing campaign to push the two video view counts up into the millions.   Score: 8.

Overall, TCRP “People versus Carbon” earns an excellent score of 24 on the CTW metric.  To make the initiative more powerful, TCRP should combine the key messages from the two TCRP videos, “The Way Forward”, and “Cost of Carbon”, into a single video.  The key message of this new video would be, “in your election, or re-election, Mr./Ms. Congressman, my vote is contingent upon you introducing or supporting a carbon tax bill”.

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