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Businessweek Archives

Lukewarm Allies In The Global Warming Crusade

Readers Report


Although I strongly approve of your proposals for combating global warming--through greater efficiency of automobiles, appliances, etc.--I must take issue with some of your premises ("Global warming: Cool heads required," Editorials, Oct. 20).

Executives generally don't want to be challenged by new technology. A welcome exception is British Petroleum Co., which recognizes the validity of the global-warming threat and has committed itself to limiting emissions of greenhouse gases and intends to invest heavily in solar energy. To argue that the U.S. finds it harder than Europe to curb greenhouse gases is truly specious. Europeans are already far more efficient than Americans, who are the energy hogs of the world. With their greater reliance on public transportation, far more fuel-efficient cars, and better insulated homes, they will be much more challenged than the U.S. to implement further reductions in greenhouse gases.

Paul W. Rosenberger

Manhattan Beach, Calif.Return to top


The environmental community's policy position on taxes is falsely characterized by Paul Craig Roberts and cannot go unnoticed ("Clinton's energy tax: Now that's a scorched-earth policy," Economic Viewpoint, Oct. 27). Like many conservatives, we are also working for tax reform. In fact, we believe that global climate change presents a unique opportunity for lawmakers to concurrently reform the tax code and protect the environment.

A logical place to start is to eliminate the billions of dollars in tax breaks that subsidize carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change, and the tax loopholes that subsidize its emission ought to be immediately closed. Every cent collected by government as a result of shutting down these archaic tax breaks should be returned to the sectors of the economy affected by these policy changes, in the form of tax incentives to promote clean technology innovation and development.

Only after exchanging climate-killing corporate subsidies for job-creating, business-generating green tax incentives will it make sense to discuss new energy taxes. An equitable place to start would be to gradually increase taxes on energy and in a revenue-neutral manner decrease taxes on labor.

Decreasing the cost of labor would make it cheaper for business to bring on new employees. This could alleviate some of organized labor's concerns over a climate-change treaty.

Brian S. Dunkiel

Director of Tax Policy

Friends of the Earth


I am a scientist with more than 30 years' experience in dealing with various aspects of the global warming now under way. I am also director of a research institute whose staff deals directly with details of compliance with the Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the U.S. plans for the Kyoto meeting.

While I hardly expected Paul Craig Roberts to endorse a vigorous program to reduce the use of fossil fuels globally, I did not expect to find such a blatant corruption of fact and circumstance as contained in the article.

It is probable that most of your readers know better than Mr. Roberts seems to that the warming is in fact under way, is caused by human activities, and has the potential, if unchecked, for extraordinary disruption of civilization--as climates move from substantial stability to progressive instability.

George M. Woodwell

President and Director

Woods Hole Research Center

Woods Hole, Mass.Return to top

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