"THE NATIONAL Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last week that 2012 was the warmest year on record in the contiguous United States. By far — a whole degree Fahrenheit.
Scientists can’t yet know to what extent man-made emissions influenced the heat and calamitous drought. But the result is nevertheless ominous, “a huge exclamation point on the end of several decades of fairly consistent warming,” as NOAA’s Deke Arndt put it. The year offers a vision of what will happen more often on a planet that is heating — slowly and fitfully, not every year warmer than the last, but inexorably.
The smartest hedge would be a national carbon tax. It would marshal the market’s power to wring carbon out of the economy, putting decisions about the direction of energy and manufacturing in the hands of consumers and businesses that meet their demands, not Congress and interest groups that lobby lawmakers. When people must pay something for their pollution, they pollute less and invest in cleaner alternatives. A carbon tax would provide more certainty to industry and investors who currently can only guess at what climate policy will look like year to year."