Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Absurdity of the Carbon Tax Debate

I took a kneejerk reaction against a carbon tax because I'm about 100% sure that the funds would not be used wisely. The Kyoto accords were grossly unfair to industrialized nations and curiously they gave China a free pass to pollute to their hearts content. That right there was enough to make me believe the goal of Kyoto was to tear down the industrialized nations and further promote outsourcing. Why in blazes someone would want to support that is beyond me. Even if you're a die hard tree hugger, I hate to break it to ya but all the trees are gonna get chopped down and burned as firewood when no one can afford to heat their homes thanks to all this outsourcing. Why liberal ideologues cannot see that I do not know... but because of this limited thinking I place much of the blame for what's happened during these Bush years squarely onto their shoulders. God how I wish people on both sides could think realistically! It's not a perfect world and anyone who sets out on their quest believing they can make it so, is only dooming themselves and those who follow to failure.

So after the precedent set by Kyoto, one could probably understand why I never really gave much serious thought to supporting a carbon tax. Except to say that if the money was used to fund alternative energy it would not be so bad. However, I have been watching our savings rate decline for years... I watched in horror as it dipped into the negative. And watched in further horror as certain people tried to pass that off as a good thing! And those same people questioned my sanity for saying it is not a good thing! It is NOT a good thing! My solution has always been a tax on consumption. A national sales tax would be a good consumption tax because you would not be taxed on the money you saved, thus promoting the saving of money!

Now when I look at a carbon tax, I am beginning to see some merits to it. Because everything we do basically creates carbon emissions. Everything we produce, and, more importantly, everything we consume. Even the manufacturing of a solar panel produces quite a bit of carbon dioxide! So a tax on carbon emissions is in essence a tax on consumption, as much as it is a tax on production. So it makes sense.

But even though it would curb consumption and promote saving and investing, I still cannot support a carbon tax simply for the following reason: global oil production is peaking, and thus "our little problem" of carbon emissions is going to solve itself in the most natural of ways! So I am not at all concerned about carbon emissions. I do not see them increasing any more than 30% above where they are now. And even that will not last long. Whatever damage has been done has, for the most part, already been done.

I do think we need to start setting some money aside for the people in mountain watersheds like the Himalayas, because our tomfoolery has been melting the icecaps and flooding the regions with more water than nature would normally allow, thus resulting in unsunstainable population booms. (This is my biggest agreement with the global warming community, but sadly even they do not really recognize it for the problem that it is. Haven't we learned anything from the green revolution? Did that end world hunger? Are there more or less people starving than there were 50 years ago?)

When those people, mainly in India, figure out what happened, they're likely to be slightly pissed off at Joe in his Hummer, and perhaps rightly so. So it would be wise to start investing in a solution. But again I do not see a carbon tax as the best way to go about doing that. If the hummer is causing most of the global warming then the solution can be had at the gas pump... by encouraging Joe to think about not wasting so much damn gas!

The future lies in efficiency -- making better use of what we've got. If a carbon tax can somehow promote efficiency then it is probably a good idea, or at least an ok idea. But it seems to me that a simple gasoline tax would do the same job much better. Without a doubt Europe is much more efficient with energy than the US. And there is nothing to indicate that Europeans are living less happy lives because of it! So why is there so much political force behind a carbon tax, and not a stiff gasoline tax? If I had to guess I would say it is because the dominant political forces at work in the US are controlled by, to use a biblical term, Satan himself. Through his proxy, the luciferian mainstream media. ha ha ha. It's a polemic, I am aware of that, but have you a better explanation? All you have to do is look at the history of taxation. People hate taxes, and in this day and age they are pretty much political suicide. But if that's what we really need.... if a "realistic" gas tax helps to solve our problem in the long run then that is what must be done. It does not matter if it is political suicide or not. Just get in line at the noose and hopefully by the time it is your turn, the corpses will be stacked so high that they will break your fall and save your neck. That's the philosophy I wish more politicians would hold. They might be hated in the short term, but people can see reason, if given a choice. Right now there is none. There is just irrationality on both sides. And that is why both sides suffer from such horrible approval ratings. Really, what is there to approve? Only the media believes that political butt kissing attracts people in the long run. And despite all their Orwellian and Rovian attempts to manipulate public opinion, they will never make a duck look like anything other than a duck.

I dont get why they even call it a carbon tax. Why not call it a "I am a coward tax?" Call it a "I want to scare you with horror stories about global warming so I can get the support I need to fix a problem that aint got a damn thing to do with our real problems." And if you think it does, then you better wake up. Cause you wont be giving a damn about global warming when you're sitting in line at the gas pump like your daddy was back in 1973 and 1979. You know it, I know it, and they know it. And everyone who has invested even an ounce of curiosity into the subject knows that we've consumed far far more oil than we've discovered since the 70s. So you do the math on that one. Oil production isnt going up. Once you subtract the amount of oil it costs to produce a barrel of oil, global oil production is not rising. It's not falling either, not yet, because of all the tricks they use to maintain production. Such as pumping massive amounts of seawater into the wells. Such as burning massive amounts of natural gas to generate nitrogen to pump into the wells! (Oh the wonders of technology, how it will solve all our problems!) And do you know how much natural gas is being used to convert oil shale and tar sands into something useful? You think the rise in natural gas prices has nothing to do with oil? Ask yourself how many other prices have risen in response to the scarcity of oil. Before the world admits there is a problem, the true cost of oil production will be spread across to every corner of the economy. That's the beauty of the commodities market! Especially a commodity in such rediculously high demand.

It's beautiful from an economist's point of view for sure, but to an average person it should be quite disturbing. Because it masks the problem until it reaches a point where it becomes too late to solve it. When a market functions correctly, the price of a commodity will reflect ALL of the hidden costs of that commodity. Those costs will not be hidden in strange places, such as in our trillion dollar Iraq war! (Oh whaddaya know, look what I found! Few billion here, few trillion there...) And if you keep looking you'll keep finding the hidden costs of a barrel of oil. Just tucked away, swept under the rug. That's not capitalism. I really don't know what the hell it is, to be honest. I wouldn't doubt it if there isn't even a term for it yet. But what should be of greatest concern is the fact that our escapades in Iraq have themselves consumed a Great Deal of oil. And since the war is about oil, in one way or another, then that cost must also be rolled back into the production of oil. Hey, if it costs us 100 barrels of oil to run a pump to pull 1000 barrels out of the ground, then how is it any different when it costs us a few thousand or million barrels of oil to run our machines to protect "our" (potential) oil? This is actually evidence that we passed our true peak a long long time ago, especially if the wars keep escalating and consuming more and more oil! But that is a slippery slope, so I wont rely upon it for anything other than an anecdote. Needless to say, most of the oil we waste is, well, wasted. This is just one small facet of what a real peak oil debate would and should entail.

It's kind of ironic that the only visible non-technological solution lies buried in the sands of Iraq. Only with about 8 million barrels a day of dirt cheap light sweet crude from Iraq, will the current depletion rates be fully compensated. And even that says nothing about our petro-dependent economic growth rate, growth which MUST be sustained to keep the curent economic system from imploding. Even to this day, I still wonder if the Bushies were really smart or really stupid for going in there! What if the looming energy crisis was so severe that they felt they had to go in there even knowing full well it would most likely result in a quagmire? Someone needs to ask that question! As partially logical beings we must accept that people do stupid things most often because they simply have no other choice! But the real point is there are much bigger problems to face than global warming. Face them now, or wait 2 or 3 years and face them with Hillary. God knows she'll still be in Iraq. That is a given, no matter what, if what I say about peak oil is true. She will place that oil above the lives of Iraqis. How will she get away with that? With a carbon tax? lol. No, that's what the terrists are for. That's why we're over there spending hundreds of billions on the biggest terrorist training camp the world has ever seen. Hey that's just a fact. It's just a matter of policy. Hillary, like Bush before her, needs those terrorists to keep us afraid, long enough for peak oil to set in. Then fewer and fewer people will care about what's right and what's wrong. And we'll get our precious oil, our desert blood. And the Iraqis who fight will get mass graves. And somehow, all this will happen without 50 nuclear warheads going off. Yeah, only in a neocon dream. Their dreams have a way of coming true...

But my point is only this: what I'm saying about peak oil production can be backed up by much stronger evidence than carbon emissions and their effect on global climate systems. Much much stronger evidence. It's been predicted for over 40 years now, predicted with amazing accuracy by Hubbert. Despite all the attacks and all the nitpicking, he is being proven correct. That's what they said... they said "prove it". Well it is being proven, you most stubborn of the stubborn! We're fighting wars over oil right now. The scale of it just keeps growing and growing. We used to fight billion dollar wars over oil. Now it's trillion dollar wars. We're seeing the costs of living skyrocketing already, because of oil. And yet there is 100 times more debate about some stupid carbon tax to combat some stupid phantom problem that, at the rate we're going, is going to begin solving itself all by itself. Nature dont need no help from us. We might be able to tear down entire rainforests and replace them with walmarts, but such behavior is totally unsustainable. And thus in the strictest sense, it is not really a problem for the earth. It's a problem for us, yes, but it aint got a damn thing to do with carbon dioxide. War, famine, disease, what does that have to do with carbon dioxide?

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