The Carbon Dioxide Problem and Solution

  • Roger James Kuhns
  • George H. Shaw


The problem of global warming and global climate change cannot be ignored in any discussion regarding long-term energy policy. And the solution, as part of a comprehensive sustainable energy plan, is putting a fee or tax on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide is a pollutant, not when naturally exhaled by animals but rather through the release of naturally sequestered carbon by human practice of burning of fossil fuels. To put this in perspective, we first look at the carbon dioxide problem, and then we look at pricing carbon as part of the overall energy policy solution. The main problem is, of course, the ever-increasing emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide levels have risen to above 408 ppm in 2017 from 316 ppm in 1958 according to the Mauna Loa Observatory, which is above the estimated 275 ppm preindustrial concentrations. This has translated into global warming, which is causing climate change. As the globe warms, we experience more extreme weather and climate events. Coastal communities are some of the hardest hit as sea level rises and storm tides roar in at record heights. Food resources are being impacted by new flood and drought cycles and the exacerbation of invasive plants and insects that impact crops. The solution is complex, but begins with carbon pricing. This requires federal action to level the economic playing field. As has been seen in states such as California and regions such as the Northeast states under RGGI, we find that reducing emissions does not negatively impact GDP, which in fact it improves. This “decoupling” is important in justifying a fee or tax on carbon dioxide. Cap-and-trade mechanisms have been used on the state level, but as yet have not been applied on a national basis.


Carbon dioxide Climate change Greenhouse gas Sea level rise Cap and trade Carbon fee/carbon tax Global warming Emissions GDP CO2e RGGI GHG Carbon pricing 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger James Kuhns
    • 1
  • George H. Shaw
    • 2
  1. 1.SustainAudit, LLCMysticUSA
  2. 2.Geology DepartmentUnion CollegeSchenectadyUSA

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