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Who Should Pay?

Entry 611, on 2007-09-19 at 21:55:22 (Rating 3, Politics)

Global warming and environmental politics in general are back in the news here in New Zealand. The latest source of anguish is the government's new carbon tax proposal which would lead to higher prices for electricity and petroleum-based fuels. The fact that the increases would be small compared to the up and down fluctuations caused by economic factors doesn't seem to placate many people - they still decry the idea of having to pay more for "nothing".

There are still people who deny global warming is real, and there are others who admit it is happening but refuse to believe human influences are significant. But opinion is gradually changing and it won't be long before global warming deniers are seen as fringe cranks (I see a lot of them that way already).

So if the science indicates the problem is real and has potentially disastrous consequences shouldn't something be done about it? Some people will say "no, we should wait until the effect is proven beyond doubt". But nothing is ever 100% proven, especially anything as complex as climate. The scientific consensus is already there and we should be acting now.

So we should be reducing greenhouse gasses now but what is the best way to do that without adversely affecting our economies? We can't, of course. The economy will have to suffer to some extent. But the future health of the planet is more important than something as ephemeral as the economy. And politicians are prepared to sacrifice parts of the economy in order to advance other political programs, such as globalisation and political interference in the Middle East. If its OK then why would it not be OK for something which is potentially far more important?

Electricity prices in New Zealand have increased hugely since the outgoing National Party set up a so-called competitive market many years back now. We got a hugely complex, inefficient, expensive system which does nothing practical. Adding a few more cents onto the price for a good cause is surely justifiable.

There is one small suggestion I would make to the government though. Some people will see the extra costs as a tax. Why not reduce income tax to compensate, that way no one will be worse off and anyone who can make power savings will actually be better off. Just make sure the tax cuts affect everyone fairly and don't just end up like another donation to the usual rich corporate beneficiaries.

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Comment 1 (848) by sbfl on 2007-09-20 at 00:30:52:

"But nothing is ever 100% proven" - did OJB mention this to his GodTube muppet (see Trapped post) in relation to his "free-thinking" ideas (free-thinking is a misnomer if ever I heard one as they restrict themselves only to what they can logically and rationally prove; they don't allow themselves to venture into areas that can't be proved - or disproved").

Very surprised to see that Owen advocates tax cuts: "Why not reduce income tax to compensate". He also states "Just make sure the tax cuts affect everyone fairly and don't just end up like another donation to the usual rich corporate beneficiaries." - does this mean OJB will be voting National in 2008? It is the current Labour-led govt that has reduced business tax, so he won't be happy with them.

On to the main theme though... it's all good stuff w.r.t. the environment. NZ as a whole can afford to do more for the environment, but methinks that resource would be better used to influence environmental policy on the guzzlers that are the US and China etc. One planet remember, we (as one country) are not isolated from ROW. We should look to fix (influence) the source rather than pathetic ineffective patch-up on our own tiny patch. More perspective please OJB.

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Comment 2 (853) by OJB on 2007-09-20 at 10:54:21:

The "GodTube muppet" was no idiot. He was genuinely thoughtful and discussed my points with senior members of his church. I think you are making unfair assumptions there.

Free thinking doesn't just mean believing anything. And absolute proof is most definitely not a requirement. I've already said that most things will never be proven 100%. I do require the subject to be amenable to logic and empiricism but that doesn't preclude studying the supernatural - we just have to find an overlap with the natural world and study that. Anything that has no overlap with the "real" world has no real existence.

I don't think I'll be voting National because I don't vote based on a single issue. I am certainly no great fan of Labour either. As I have mentioned before, I usually vote Green.

I accept your point that what a small country like NZ does really makes little difference on a global scale. But what else can we do? At least by making this effort we are setting an example, like we did with being first to give women the vote, banning US nuclear powered ships, etc.

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