Click below to read past ConcordCAN columns in published the Concord Journal.

  • September 2017
    Yard Care is Due for a “Green” Revolution

  • April 2017
    ConcordCAN! Support for Town Meeting Articles

  • February 2017
    It’s Up to Us Now

  • October 2016
    Water in Plain Sight: Hope for a Thirsty World

  • September 2016
    It’s Not all About Energy: Bring Back Natural Ecosystems to Remove Atmospheric Carbon

  • June 2016
    The Unfortunate Truth about Natural Gas

  • December 2015
    Jobs, Justice, and Climate

  • October 2015
    The Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement is Growing

  • July 2015
    Inside The Climate Denial Machine

  • March 2015
    Plastic and Rubber at Concord’s Town Meeting

  • January 2015
    Can We Talk “Dirt”

  • December 2014
    A Natural Gas Pipeline for Massachusetts?

  • November 2014
    Natural Gas - Not the “Clean” Transition Fuel

  • September 2014
    People’s Climate March: NYC Sept. 21

  • August 2014
    Local Food: Everyone Benefits

  • July 2014
    Good News for the Planet

  • May 2014
    Is Zero Waste Achievable for Concord?

  • April 2014
    Fossil Fuel Divestment Is Not Hypocritical

  • March 2014
    The Fiduciary Argument About Divestment

  • February 2014
    Climate Solutions: Changing The Way We Think To Create The World We Want

  • January 2014
    Divesting Fossil Fuels

  • December 2013
    Here Comes the Sun

  • November 2013
    Municipal Sustainability in Action

  • October 2013
    Climate Change is Real

  • September 2013
    It's Time For Climate Solutions

  • August 2013
    Celebrate Local Food

  • June 2013
    Water, Water Everywhere!...?

  • May 2013
    Safer Alternatives to Our Toxic Lifestyle

  • April 2013
    Municipal Sustainability in Concord

  • March 2013
    Look Beyond The Plastic

  • February 2013
    Your Solar Rooftop,Now

  • January 2013
    The Chilling Math of the Carbon Path

  • Columns

    Good News for the Planet

    By Garret Whitney and Janet Lawson

    Here’s some small good news for the planet! The world appears to be moving beyond denial of global warming. Politicians, like Marco Rubio, who publicly question the science, are now required to present their evidence. News outlets, like the LA Times, have said that they won’t publish letters of climate change denial.

    And now, even business and Wall St are speaking out about the urgency of the climate crisis. Just last week, a bi-partisan group led by ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ex-Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and hedge fund financier Tom Steyer put out their Risky Business report ( warning of the economic perils of inaction.

    So now that we can leave the Is-It-Real? "debate" behind -- we're faced with What-To-Do. Somehow we need to change almost everything we do that produces or uses energy, and perform the greatest and fastest economy-wide transformation in human history. But how?

    Enter economics to the rescue. The single largest change-producer we could introduce would be to "put a price on carbon" so that the price of fossil fuels better reflects their true cost to society. Raising the price of fossil fuels would change our behaviors and move us more quickly toward conserving energy, cutting waste, and replacing coal, oil, and gas with renewable energy.

    A price on carbon could come in several forms. All would cost money, so it's important that we think through the possibilities so that the system we choose is as fair and effective as possible.

    We could create a Cap and Trade arrangement whereby major polluters would trade the "rights to pollute". We could tax fossil fuel use, and use the proceeds for programs to fund energy efficiency projects, or offset other taxes, or to compensate users for some of their added costs. Or, we could have a Cap and Dividend system whereby all the taxes raised would be refunded equally to all citizens, creating an incentive to save fuel and money while avoiding overburdening the less prosperous. Or we could blend these approaches.

    Each variation has its pros and cons. Some are progressive and some regressive. Some are easier to "sell" to a divided public and legislature. Some are more or less favorable to business or to those whose critical livelihoods involve using fossil fuels, such as farmers and truckers.

    In 2008 British Columbia, Canada chose a carbon tax that offsets income taxes, and the program has been both popular and successful. Petroleum use has declined 15% per person, the economy has been growing, and BC has the lowest income taxes in Canada. A shining example! Momentum for a carbon tax or cap is building in California, Oregon, Washington and here in Massachusetts.

    Climate Xchange, formerly the Environmental Working Group, is working on developing principles to guide our Massachusetts lawmakers in crafting an effective and fair carbon tax policy for our state. Next Thursday, July 17th, the Metrowest Node of 350MA will present a speaker from Climate Xchange to discuss their five principles for making a carbon tax successful. All are invited.

    350MA is a statewide grassroots climate action group dedicated to promoting effective political action on climate at the state level. The July 17th meeting will be held from 7 to 9 PM in the air-conditioned Parish Hall of TriCon Church, 54 Walden Street in Concord. Refreshments will be provided. For more information go to the ConcordCAN! website, or to If you are concerned about climate change, please join us for a lively and informative conversation.

    Garret Whitney and Janet Lawson are members of ConcordCAN! Steering Group and 350MA Metrowest Node