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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Eckburg: Drowning in eco-anxiety? Let’s talk about carbon taxes

Graphic illustration depicting the earth within a glass greenhouse (centered) with the words "Climate Column" over the top and two pieces of greenery to the left and right.
(Graphic Illustration by Abby Flitton | The Collegian)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Eco-anxiety is real, and we are feeling it now more than ever. Every day, our timelines are flooded with news about the ongoing climate crisis. It’s not hard to see that we are dealing with a very real problem — one that needs to be carefully addressed to ensure life as we know it can continue. 

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I have dealt with eco-anxiety for the last few years, and I struggle to interact with media discussing our climate crisis because of it. To cope with this anxiety, I’ve paid close attention to good news about the environment and learned about things that our government can do to prevent further devastation. One of the ways we could address greenhouse gas emissions in the United States is through carbon taxes. 

As college students, it is crucial for us to take action against global warming and be informed about the bills we can support to enact change. We have unprecedented access to information, and that can cause a lot of anxiety, but we also have an opportunity to learn about productive measures to change the way we treat our planet. 

woman holds sing
Various signs suspend in the air around Old Town Square, where hundreds gather for the Fort Collins Climate Strike on Friday evening as part of the #FridaysForFuture movement started by climate activist Greta Thunberg, Sept. 27, 2019. (Alyssa Uhl | The Collegian)

A carbon tax is a way for a government to tax greenhouse gas emissions released by corporations, meaning the corporations have to pay a set price for every ton of greenhouse gases emitted in a specific time period. Ideally, if a company has to pay a tax on each ton of greenhouse gases emitted, the tax will quickly become so expensive that switching to means of production that reduce emissions will be an economically profitable decision. 

Naturally, this tax would generate a lot of money for the government, and this money could be distributed in a variety of ways, including paying for renewable energy research and engineering or dividing it to cover different needs across the country.

There is a lot of debate about where this money should go. Taxing corporations for emissions would not negatively affect the general public, unlike other solutions like raising gas prices insanely high to discourage individuals from driving gas-powered vehicles.

Discussions of how to fix climate change can be tricky, but being informed about what you can do to lobby for these changes is incredibly important.”

Now this all sounds great, but actually implementing and regulating this tax will be difficult, especially if there are many disagreements about where and how this extra money should be spent. 

Another way the government could reduce carbon emissions is by implementing a cap and trade strategy. Instead of setting a specific price on carbon, the federal government will determine a cap, or how much carbon can be released annually, and each emitter is given allowances or percentages of what they can release in a certain timeframe. If a corporation does not meet its allowed quota, it can sell its shares of emissions to other companies, thus creating a market with a changing carbon price. 

Eventually, the price of carbon should be extremely high, and companies will have an incentive to invest in alternative, eco-friendly production and sell their shares of emissions to other corporations.

Woman holds sign in front of stage
Various signs suspend in the air around Old Town Square, where hundreds gather for the Fort Collins Climate Strike on Friday evening as a part of the #FridaysForFuture movement started by climate activist Greta Thunberg, Sept. 27, 2019. (Alyssa Uhl | The Collegian)

Again, all of this is hard to actually implement on a national level, but there are multiple countries already enacting some form of carbon tax, including Canada, Denmark, China and the entire European Union, among others. 

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The U.S. has a unique opportunity to follow the lead of other countries making an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The issue is in getting public acceptance of these policies.

In Fort Collins, we would not likely see a drastic change in our everyday lives if some form of serious national emissions tax existed, but we might see a difference in our community due to the revenue generated as a result of this tax if it was distributed to each state or as a stipend.

Discussions of how to fix climate change can be tricky, but being informed about what you can do to lobby for these changes is incredibly important. We represent the future, and we deserve a future that’s sustainable. 

If you want to learn more about carbon taxes and addressing climate change, I recommend this video by Hank Green, a science communicator and co-creator of Crash Course.

Bella Eckburg can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @yaycolor.

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About the Contributor
Bella Eckburg
Bella Eckburg, Opinion Director
Bella Eckburg is a fourth-year journalism student with a minor in criminology and criminal justice and is currently serving as The Collegian’s opinion desk director. Eckburg hails from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, but she’s no skier. Instead, she spent her time in the mountains exploring her love for writing and painting, which she brought with her to Colorado State University in the fall of 2019. Journalism gives Eckburg the opportunity to explore the Fort Collins community and life on campus through a critical lens. She enjoys writing about local history, sex and relationships, queer culture and social media’s impact on this generation of young women.  In her free time, she loves to watch trash TV, write horror fiction and listen to podcasts. As opinion director, Eckburg wishes to help every writer build upon their AP Style skills, boost their confidence and find their voice. Regardless of your personal stances, every opinion has a place on the opinion desk, and Eckburg works hard to make the desk an open and safe environment to have discussions about the community and campus. Her favorite part about working at The Collegian is meeting so many interesting and incredible people who are passionate about telling the stories of Fort Collins and CSU.  Eckburg is excited to continue working with The Collegian for another year and hopes you’ll find the time to come to the newsroom in the basement of the Lory Student Center to strike up a conversation or sign up for the many available reporter trainings to join the team.

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