Environmentalist, software developer, philosopher, husband of one, father of three.

Avoid the carbon tax paradox

Let me be clear from the start: I believe in the necessity of a carbon tax, I'm a carbon tax proponent. What I'm writing about here is carbon taxes implemented in a bad way. I'm far from the first person writing about this, but I think it's important enough to be written about a billion times, we generally need to focus much, much more on how we solve our environmental issues. I've seen the paradox happen up here in Scandinavia, and it's probably happening pretty much everywhere. The government introduces a well meaning tax on, let's say oil. In the beginning it has good effect and gives incentives to move in a more environmentally friendly direction. At the same time the government is earning more money, it feels like a win-win. However, after some time, the government starts to depend on the income from the well meaning taxation to run all sorts of important functions of the government. At this point you basically have a government dependent on money from industries that is wrecking the nature we need to exist in the long run. This dependence on what you're trying to get rid of, is the paradox, and must be avoided at all cost. Some people argue that the carbon tax collected should be given directly to the people. It's an interesting thought, but I don't like that idea either. It would create a dependence in the population for this extra money, and it doesn't lead anywhere but more consumption, making the problem even worse. The money collected from a carbon tax must work benefit us all in the long run too.

There is one way to do carbon tax correctly, and that's for 100% of the carbon tax collected to be invested in initiatives that will lead us away from the carbon economy. If you plant forests, build wind turbines or solar panels from the money collected from the carbon tax, you effectively channel the energy from the oil extraction into building it's replacement. When we're done building the replacement, closing the oil industry won't be needed, it's closing itself by funding the construction of a better alternative. I mean, at the point where everybody is getting their power from renewable energy, and materials from renewable materials, then there won't be no oil industry anymore, it will quickly close down by itself as better alternatives comes around. In this way you carefully close down one business, moving jobs from the oil companies over to the renewable energy sector. This is a win-win.

A carbon tax can't solve all our problems, but it's an important piece of the puzzle, and it's really important to get it right to avoid a paradoxial dependence on our own destruction.

Embrace cold feet

I recently did something I felt really enthusiastic about. Something I've wanted to do for years.
I can't go into details of what it was yet, but I can tell you that it's something that's going to change my life a little bit. It means I'm thinking out of the box, and I'm not really used to do that. That in itself is exciting. Very quickly though, I got cold feet. When I got the message that it's not unlikely that I'm going to get what I want, I got some serious cold feet. I fear the cold feet, they weaken every decision, I often retreat because of them. It usually starts with a sleepless night or two where I try to calm myself down, telling myself that I can get out of it again tomorrow, get back to normal. At that point, the fear of doing something irrevocably wrong, temporarily grows beyond the desire for change. And sometimes I give in to the fear and retreat the next morning, going back to status quo. This retreat tends to end with regret. Thoughts about what could have been starts to appear. And the fantasy about what could have been usually looks much better than how things did turn out. The regret is worse than the cold feet, because coold feet I can get through and even feel brave afterwards. I can move on from fear of the future, but regret is based on the past, and the past I cannot change.

So this is a reminder to myself, than when I feel fear from a recent decision, when I get cold feet, I must stick to the plan. The regret of not doing what I fear is worse. The cold feet quickly wears off when the new situation becomes the new normal, regret tends to stick around.