New York wants $60 billion to safeguard it from future Sandys. In an era of global warming-induced superstorms, so will the rest of the eastern seaboard, plus Florida and the Gulf.
It doesn't take much imagination to conclude that the price tag will be far higher than anything being debated in the fiscal cliff negotiations. Where will all the money come from?
Well, we could tax carbon. That would have the charm of putting a price tag on the substance that is causing the global warming problem, and which will produce a rich revenue stream. Energy is a growth industry. Fossil fuel producers of late are promising not only American energy independence and lots of jobs, but also a reduction in our dependence on pollution-heavy coal.
Unfortunately, a carbon tax is the least politically popular solution. Plus, the fossil fuel industry seems to have an insatiable thirst for exploiting ever less accessible (and more costly) sources, even though it already has rights to enough oil, gas and coal to drive the temperature of the earth right past global climate catastrophe.
However, if we don't take swift action to curtail greenhouse gases, we will wind up doing a sort of climate triage - building (perhaps inadequate) safeguards for some communities, while abandoning others to rising tides and raging winds.
Byron W. Baker