We remember Earth Day 1970, the year when President Richard Nixon and Congress established the Environmental Protection Agency in response to citizen demand, and we have the EPA to thank for enforcing the clean air and water acts over the intervening years. Recently, because of congressional inaction, the EPA has been tasked with reducing the levels of CO2 pollution emitted from various sources, especially coal-fired power plants.
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear that carbon emissions have soared in the past decade and are growing at almost double the previous rate. Fortunately, according to the scientists, rapid action can still limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the internationally agreed to safe level, if clean energy sources triple or quadruple by 2050.
Clearly, Earth Day 2014 is a time to inspire the bold actions necessary to reverse the direction of climate change. Divestment in carbon stocks, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, and putting a tax on carbon-emitting sources are among the best ways of slowing the continued growth in our atmospheric emissions. The strategy of a revenue-neutral carbon tax will move the market in the direction of supporting clean energy and is something that both conservative and progressive economists support.