Taxation of Gluttonous Human Consumption

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Taxation of Gluttonous Human Consumption JimScarver 13:58, 7 January 2007 (EST)

It may be 100 years, or more, before the present human impact on the global environment can be accessed objectively.

In the mean time it is prudent we consume effectively, maximizing the abundance and quality of life, and minimizing wastefulness and ecological destruction.

This is one mans view of how we must meet that challenge head on. It may be the only way.


Much of the hype about global warming, ocean acidification and the like reflect human vanity that we can impact global systems and understand that impact.

The fact is that the effect of human activity is not known and all the theories are highly speculative.

But we do know that the human footprint on the planet is increasing, and that there will be effects of human activity. If we are to be responsible denizens of the planet we ought not be alarmists claiming knowledge of that which we do not understand, but we ought to do our best to insure that the human infestation on the planet has an impact which is positive on the system and not destructive.

It is not right for us to jump on the bandwagon of the latest scientific speculation and proclaim it as fact, but it is also wrong to assume that what we don't know can't hurt us.

We do know that the ecological system on the planet thrives on diversity, and that our policies and collaborative actions should enhance the diversity rather than destroy it.

We do know that there is tremendous waste in modern human activity which cannot possibly scale as our population increases. Our collective action must improve the scalability of human enterprise if we are to sustain growth.

At the same time that our collective action must be ecologically prudent we must insure that individual liberty and enterprise is not unduly restricted or we will face economic collapse which will make all our short term environmental achievements inconsequential.

Such is the challenge facing humanity. Our future demands that we meet this challenge.

While there are great success stories, and the pollution levels in North America and Europe have been reduced considerably in the last half century employing socialistic strategies, the consumption level of the modern world has continued to increase at an alarming rate.

At the same time we have all paid for the improvements paying high taxes which have reduced our quality of life.

I do not believe we can meet the challenges facing humanity without radical changes in our taxation policies.

Taxing the positive indicators of the economy, income and sales ultimately leads to fluctuations and downturns. It does not distinguish between globally positive human enterprise which ought be subsidized and globally destructive endeavours which ought be discouraged.

Rather than making millions of laws restricting human freedom in areas where we are not even certain what the the human impact will be, let us tax only the wasteful, inefficient, dirty and questionable activities that threaten a sustainable future for humanity in proportion to the threat they represent so far as we can objectively determine.

For example. There is no proof that human activities have actually increased CO2 in the atmosphere. There are human effects that have both increased and decreased CO2 levels. The natural sources of CO2 far outweigh the human contribution. There is also no proof that increasing CO2 levels will result in long term global warming. It may actually bring on the next ice age as far as is really known scientifically despite all the speculation.

But we do know that recent human activities is contributing CO2 which amount to up to 5% of natural sources. We don't know how much of a reduction in natural CO2 humans are responsible for as a result of fire control and other activities.

No matter whether human activity is increasing or decreasing the CO2 level today if is clear that the human production of CO2 is increasing and that there is a short term increase in temperatures globally.

For all we know natural processes will balance the CO2 levels as they have for the last billion years. But if they do not, humanity will have to take action. This would most likely take the form of fertilization of blue-green algae in the oceans. The CO2 was once 90% of the earths atmosphere. It is these algae that are attributed to reducing it to the present level of 0.004%. Human waste products could be used to fertilize these to fix the excess CO2 in the atmosphere as carbonates on the ocean floor.

But who should bear the cost of this? Clearly those producing an excess of CO2.

And there are many other reason burning our fossil fuels wastefully is detrimental to the future of humanity. Clearly this should be taxed sufficiently to make alternative viable.

Similarly incandescent lighting is horribly inefficient. Incandescent light bulbs should be taxed sufficiently to encourage alternatives.

Each bird, deer, and human being is entitled to a share of the planets resources. The air we breath and water we drink and a reasonable share of all that is necessary for our survival is our birth right. But that right is being threatened by gluttonous and wasteful human consumption. These activities must be taxed.

Some will argue that such taxation would be too complex and unenforceable. This is not necessarily so. Principle based taxes and credits are much less arbitrary than the current system of taxes and regulations. Taxing outrageous excesses at the source can reduce or eliminate the burden on the individual who is living efficiently or simply. In addition, objective criteria can, and should be applied to taxation which removes political influence to the greatest degree possible.

While this is a radical change in our philosophy of taxation it is the only means of insuring sustainability in a free economy. While any taxed enterprise is not truly free, it is free in comparison to prohibition. It is a policy that can be incrementally applied in an evolutionary manner without causing economic turmoil.

We can have unprecedented personal wealth and freedom without being wasteful. Our collective action can provide the necessary incentives for that to become a reality without unnecessarily impacting our freedom and quality of life.

In the end, human enhabitation can have a positive impact on the planet if we do not destroy her first. Our noble effects thus far are commendable but inadequate to insure a sustainable future for humanity. Unless we tie sustainability to economics our efforts, no matter how noble, will not be sufficient.

At the same time we cannot be led by the latest fad theory, there must be sound scientific principles behind our collective action and objective criteria determining our action with build in controls to adjust to changing environmental conditions. Our action must be driven by acknowledgement of our ignorance, and minimizing our impact on the planet, while applying what are proven to be the best models available.

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