Go green or die

By Editorial Board

For those of you who haven’t jumped on the “going green” bandwagon, sooner or later you may want to reconsider.

Talk of a carbon dioxide emissions tax has been circulating in Congress for the last few years, and Superstorm Sandy has brought environmental issues to the forefront once again.

The carbon tax addresses the issue of climate change on a macro scale. It would charge large companies for every metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions they produce, hopefully incentivizing them to pollute less in order to pay less taxes. Basically, it blackmails businesses to be green.

During his first post-election news conference Nov. 14, President Barack Obama spoke about climate change, stating there is no way to prove that a specific weather event was caused by global warming, and that he would not be pursuing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Obama added that he does believe climate change is real and is caused by human behavior and carbon emissions, but it is not a priority because of the looming fiscal cliff.

Environmentalists claim that Obama is not doing enough to address climate change and were critical of the lack of discussion about the environment during the presidential race.

The tax would lead to a rise in prices for consumers who purchase these companies’ products. The hope is that this would lead people to buy greener products because they would be less expensive.

In other words, the tax exploits the selfish objectives of the greedy polluter and the needy consumer, tricking them into doing a good deed they should already be doing. It seems that until people have visible evidence of  climate change, they will continue to need incentives like the carbon tax.

Honestly, I don’t understand why people need proof to be kind to Mother Earth. This is our home. People and companies shouldn’t have to be taxed to do what is right, especially when it is within their means to do so. People can at least make small efforts, like recycling. In most cases, the recycling bin is right next to the garbage can, but apparently that is just too much of a reach for some people.

The earth has taken care of us for so long, so why the animosity? How much proof do people need? We know that pollution is real, and we know that we are the cause. We know that enough plastic bottles and bags end up in landfills to bury us all alive. Wake up, people. We are dying in filth.

Just in case you need more proof, here are some facts. According to the Glass Packaging Institute, recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 30 minutes. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans who change their own oil throw away 120 million gallons of reusable oil every year, and recycling cellphones allows for vital metal like copper, gold and silver to be recovered.

There are plenty of facts available, but they don’t seem to be enough to incite change. If you don’t choose to take some initiative in the “going green” effort, I think it is safe to assume you are somewhat suicidal. The earth is dying, and there is proof that we can reduce our carbon footprint. So, why shouldn’t we?

A carbon tax may be in the near future, or it may not be in our lifetime. All I know is that the movement toward a clean environment can and should start now. Everyone should try to do his or her part before it costs you more money.