Tag Archives: Movie

Sans Carbon Tax – Years of Living Dangerously

01 October 2014
Author: T. Todd Elvins
copyright (c) 2014 T. Todd Elvins

SHOWTIME and ‘The Years Project’ have created nine one-hour  TV episodes of a climate- and science-related documentary series called, “Years of Living Dangerously” (‘Years’). Here’s my synopsis of a typical episode:

  • Hollywood luminaries and other influencers: travel to places impacted by severe weather due to global warming, visit scientists studying the environment, and talk to locals suffering from climate-related problems
  • The climate situation is getting worse faster than expected
  • TV viewers are mobilized to do something

But what are viewers supposed to do?  The ‘Years’ call-to-action is not in the episode, its on the show’s web site, under the Years of Living Dangerously - Robert Reich Videoheading, “What can we do“.  The web page says that renewable energy is good, efficiency & recycling are important, and reducing our carbon footprint is virtuous.  However, the big bold top-of-the-heap solution to global warming is to put a price on carbon.  This solutions’ simplicity, effectiveness, and importance are explained in a whiteboard presentation by US Labor Secretary Robert Reich and in an interview with President Obama about pricing carbon.

In a sidebar is a textbox labeled, “Tell your elected officials to put a price on carbon, you canTake Action take action on climate change in jut a few clicks“.  Viewers are invited to enter their zip code to identify their elected officials, and then to tweet and/or email the members of Congress, asking for a price on carbon.  I happened upon this mobilization campaign when one of the ‘Years’ producers tweeted that its generating a lot of twitter traffic at Congress.

Let’s apply the CarbonTax Workshop (CTW) metric to ‘Years’ put a price on carbon campaign.

  1. The Years campaign does a good job communicating the need for a price on carbon.  The Reich video explains how a carbon tax works, and that it is a market-based approach.  There is no mention of cap-and-trade.  Score: 10.
  2. The Years campaign makes it simple and painless to lobby Congress using familiar tools like email and twitter.  The campaign tells viewers to ask Congress for a, “Price on Carbon”.  This could be interpreted as cap and trade.  It would be better if viewers were instructed to ask for a revenue-neutral carbon tax, as explained in Reich’s video.  Score 7.
  3. The ‘Years’ tweet/email campaign is easily accessible on the ‘Years’ website, and the Reich video was released on Vimeo on 9/21/14.  As of 10/1/14, the  video has a respectable 4,400 views.  We don’t know how many tweets/emails have been sent. CarbonTax Workshop believes that ‘Years’ should move the “Put a Price on Carbon” section to the center of the home screen above the fold, and advertise the Reich video to push view counts up into the millions.   Score: 7.

Overall, ‘Years’ earns an excellent score of 24 on the CTW metric.  CTW urges ‘Years’ to: (1) devote an entire one-hour episode to the topic of a  revenue neutral carbon tax, (2) use the episode to mobilize viewers to lobby Congress via tweet/email/facebook, and, (3) give hope and a call-to-action to viewers.  The format of the carbon tax episode could be:

  1. Celebrity interviewer talks to university researchers who have polled citizens with the questions, ‘should companies pay a fee to pollute the air’, ‘should the government implement a national climate policy’, ‘should there be a national fee on greenhouse gas emissions’.
  2. Celebrity interviewer talks to corporation CEOs who have lobbied US Congress for a carbon tax, and incorporated a carbon tax into their internal accounting
  3. Celebrity interviewer talks to economists and elected officials in countries where a carbon tax has been in effect for ten years.  Voila. It works.

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”.

Green World Rising

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

Green World Rising

Green World Rising (GWR) has produced a series of short films on the state of climate and solutions to the climate crisis. All the films of Green World Rising are for global distribution, free to the public and hold a Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International.

GWR is funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and produced by Tree Media. The series is narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, presented by Thom Hartmann and directed by Leila Conners.  Executive Producers are George DiCaprio, Earl Katz and Roee Sharon Peled, and produced by Mathew Schmid.

The series is comprised of four films so far:

Episode 1 – Carbon shows how we can keep carbon in the ground by putting a price on carbon.

The other films are less relevent here, but are available on youtube, Episode 2 – Green World Rising, Episode 3 – Restoration, and Episode 4 – Last Hours.

On the GWR web site, “Pressure your Politicians“, is one of six options for, “Taking Meaningful Action.”  To pressure your politicians, review members of Congress’s voting records, and ask them to take bold action on climate change.  It does not suggest any particular climate policy.

Let’s apply the CarbonTax Workshop (CTW) metric to Green World Rising’s (GWR) eight minute video, “Carbon“.

  1. GWR does a fair job communicating the need for a price on carbon to keep fossil fuels in the ground.  The video does not explain how a carbon tax works, or that its the cheapest, simplest, and most effective market-based solution. Score: 6.
  2. GWR’s mentions that some countries, and Boulder Colorado, have implemented a carbon tax, but then implies that the Obama administration and the “Federal government” will not. Whoops. Congress is the branch that handles taxes. The video then explains that since the federal government won’t take action, the states and cities must install renewable energy.  It would be much more effective for cities and states to implement a carbon tax.  The video does not instruct viewers to contact their members of Congress to demand a carbon tax.  Score: 1.
  3. GWR videos are freely available on youtube and as of 9/26/14, “Carbon” has 58,000 views.  CTW would like to see the film’s producers fix the script flaws described in 2 above, put $1M into marketing, and push their view count up into the millions.   Score: 5.

Overall CTW score is 12.  This big name short-film format has potential, however, this particular instance has fixable script problems.  CTW hopes to see additional quality videos like this, with even a tighter and more detailed focus on carbon tax.