A fried egg on ashphalt

For a multitude of reasons – climate change, air quality, national security, etc. – a large reduction in the burning of carbon-based fuels is a good idea. Since higher prices are known to reduce consumption, one way to achieve this is to simply put a tax on fuel at the pump. It's been proposed by GM's Dan Akerson, Bill Ford and others, but the idea can be difficult politically and economically. With current prices already relatively high, further increases negatively impact the cost of production and distribution of everything we buy and can hurt a fragile economy.

Now, a slightly different approach has been proposed that would raise the price of carbon-based energy sources and encourage reduction, while helping the fiscally vulnerable absorb the financial cost. Hidden deep in an opinion piece for the New York Times that reminds us of the folly of continuing to pump CO2 into the atmosphere without regard for the future consequences, climatologist James Hansen makes the following suggestion.

We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month.

He argues that this approach would effectively redistribute carbon-sourced wealth back to all but the biggest energy consumers and "stimulate innovation, jobs and economic growth", among other things, while creating a reduction in oil demand equal to six times what we expect to receive from Canada's tar sands via a certain proposed pipeline.

Though it doesn't seem to take into account the possible cost of administrating such a plan, compared to previous proposals, we think this one merits further consideration. Let us know what you think in the comments section by scrolling below.