Letter to the Editor:

There are mainly two points of view on global warning (climate change). You are either convinced it is an existential threat to life on Earth requiring an urgent and immediate response; or you see the issue as, at worst, a long-term problem that can be solved incrementally by minor tweaks, thereby avoiding any significant economic disruption.

In his recent Letter to the Editor (Aug. 28 issue), David Harris clearly comes down on the side of minor tweaks. In true conservative fashion, he argues against government intervention either via carbon taxation or through what he views as the extremism of a so-called Green New Deal. The former would impose an unnecessary economic burden on American consumers and families, the other nothing less than a revolutionary change in the relationship between government and its citizens. 

In his assessment, neither of these is a good thing. His solution rests on the classic conservative principle of personal responsibility.

If only we as individuals would do the right things: walk to work, ride a bike, drive one (smaller) car, downsize our homes, etc. Doing these things is the way forward in reducing carbon emissions. 

To be fair, I support many of these ideas. We absolutely should re-examine the way we relate to the environment at the individual level. But given human inertia and avoidance of change, I think it is unrealistic to expect this approach to have any major or timely impact. This is a far more important matter than stopping severe weather and requires much more than simply not watering the lawn.

If you take the urgency side of this argument, as I do, you realize that there is no way around at least some economic and/or social disruption; at least in the short term. A carbon tax is an idea that has been around for a long time and often favored by conservatives as a market-based solution over government-mandated regulation. Would such a tax have economic implications? Of course, but then, doing nothing also carries an increasing future risk as well. By stark contrast to the Green New Deal, it has the conservative virtue of avoiding all the governmental intrusiveness of the Green New Deal.

Now, for the sake of accuracy, it bears stating that the Green New Deal is not a specific set of legislation requiring government or individuals to do anything. It is an aspirational document setting forth environmental and social goals supported by those who approach climate and other issues with that sense of urgency. 

Among those supporters are a great many younger voters who are not being “tricked” into anything and who realize the practical value of political organization. They should be commended, not condemned, for their participation. And by the way, since when did political activism become a bad thing? Many of the things we now take for granted such as a woman’s right to vote, the right to unionize or the fight for civil rights would not exist, but for such activity. We need more participation, not less. 

So whether or not you agree with this cohort of voters or accept or reject the Green New Deal and carbon taxation or the validity of climate change generally, this is a movement that needs to be taken seriously.

Jeff Laadt

Eagle River