It’s about Isabella and putting a price on carbon

My (step) Great Granddaughter, Isabella Bright was born on 10 Sept 2013. Although music is not my strong suit, I’m sure angels were singing to welcome her appearance as the 7,141,518,710th human soul now living in our social network on planet EarthIzzy1 [Ref 1].

As a Great Grandfather, I’d be remiss not to ponder one of the inevitable questions she will learn to ask when she gets to elementary school: “Epa, are you leaving Earth a better place than it was when you were my age?”

I know full well that any answer other than an unequivocal “Yes” is a social injustice to her and all future generations.

As I begin to intellectually squirm with her anticipated uncomfortable question, I’d be tempted to reach in my bag of Colbert truthiness and pull out a response like “It’s complicated Isabella.”

She might respond, “Well did you know back then we would run out of fossil fuel to burn during my lifetime?”
My reply, “Yes, I could do the math”
She’d then say “And did you know that all that burning was changing our climate?”
My reply, “Yes I did, but Izzy, you don’t understand. Sure there were a lot of social injustices including climate change happening around the time you were born in 2013, but there were also a lot of distractions and displacement issues back then. Our political system had ground to a halt, our economic system was redistributing the country’s wealth to the 1%, our legal system was treating corporations as if they were people and had human rights without associated responsibilities, our educational system was crumbling and failing the majority of our minorities, our health system was becoming motivated by profit instead of compassion and the pursuit of wellness, our foreign policy was centered around projecting strength by bombing people around the world. And that Fall of 2013 when you were born, the Broncos started their season 6 and 0; Manning was breaking records every week. There really wasn’t time to think about updating our human-created political /economic /legal /educational system so that it would influence us to make sustainable choices – like transitioning to inexhaustible sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, etc. so you wouldn’t have to run out of oil, gas and coal.”

As I stepped down from my soap box, I glanced around, noticed she was gone and wondered “Now where did she run off to?”

I didn’t even get to the part of my speech about our 19th century transcendentalists who intuitively understood the Universe has provided all the resources for Life on planet Earth to thrive. Or how they sensed there were no natural barriers in the Real World for Life to evolve, to grow in complexity and most importantly consciousness (assuming we would forgo further growth in sheer number.) The problems confronting us in 2013 were human-created problems.

She left before I got to explain that as we homo sapiens look around, we can now count nearly 2 million [Ref 3] non-human species in Earth’s interdependent network of Life – each of these species lives sustainably using the energy of the Sun (directly or indirectly) – most are doing quite well except those in niches that have been irreparably altered by insensitive human behavior. I didn’t get to point out that today’s problems and social injustices do not involve the Real World systems, but find their root cause in the human-created ‘real world’ – a world we adults have made – a world that has become strained and broken – a world adults could fix if we just worked collaboratively.

Note to Self: If I feel a passion about a specific injustice, there is probably someone else who also shares that same concern. So personally, I’m going to focus on helping update our U.S. economic system so it influences us to transition to inexhaustible energy sources rather than fossil fuel.

Have you heard of a market-based revenue-neutral carbon fee-dividend program?[Ref 4] Hopefully you will soon. When we stop burning carbon and turn to alternatives energy sources that already exist (solar, wind, wave, geothermal,…), there are a lot of other human-created problems that just simply go away – including climate change.

After all, it is about all our Isabellas.



[1] Global Population
[2] Assuming a 1% increase per year in our current fossil fuel consumption (to account for increasing global population and increased use of fossil fuel in developing countries), our known and possible reserves of oil, natural gas and coal will be depleted in less than 90 years – Isabella’s expected lifetime.
[3] “Number of Earth’s species known to scientists rises to 1.9 million”
[4]  ;

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