A letter to the San Francisco Chronicle by Ray Welch of the Marin Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby:

Climate change is the new normal. Think about that: ever-increasing, self-induced human misery as normal. That’s ridiculous. Right? But carbon dioxide emissions are normal. Each of us Americans, in our hundreds of millions, emits carbon dioxide every day just leading our normal lives: going to work, grocery shopping, caring for our kids.

Why are carbon dioxide emissions normal? Not because we’re depraved, but because our economy still operates like it was the 19th century. We pollute freely with a substance we could neither see nor smell then or now. Carbon dioxide emissions won’t retreat until we make not polluting normal.

To do that, we have to bring our economy into the 21st century by taxing carbon when fossil fuel companies take it out of the ground. Much of that cost will carry forward into the price of everything, proportionate to its carbon content. Our new, new-normal economic choices will be obvious. Low carbon products will be cheaper than high carbon ones. If we rebate the revenue from the fossil fuel companies to each household on an equal-share, per-capita basis, each of us will have a normal profit motive to limit our carbon outlay and keep as much of the rebate as possible.

Ray Welch, San Rafael