I gave environmental classes a try and only a couple years later, environmental work had me doing some pretty cool shit. I got chased in the African bush by charismatic megafauna (loved it!) and those experiences inspired me to commit my academic and professional life to helping find ways for humanity’s survival on this overtaxed spaceship Earth. I’ve struggled on oil/gas regulation as a contractor for the EPA under George W Bush. I’ve drowned my eco depression during the climate change denial backlash of 2008-2009 with frequent Facebook posts on the facts of climate change. I knew it was a shout into the abyss, but sometimes you just need to repeat things that are true - the facts - to maintain a fingerhold on sanity in a denialist, crazy world. Friends give me eco-related birthday presents, e.g. a copy of Al Gore's book An Inconvenient Truth, a coffee mug with a picture of the world where when filled with hot liquid the shoreline disappears to represent sea level rise. My classmates in business school introduce me as "into eco and green stuff" because it is clearly “my brand.” My environmentalism has ruined multiple dates for me...I mean, I recognize these "romances" were doomed before they never started, but having a climate change denier red-faced yell at you on a date, in a public space, is extremely not awesome. That has happened more than once.
I’ve lived this issue. I’ve given my blood, sweat and tears to this issue. I’ve trolled for this issue. In summary, it’s pretty much the defining characteristic of Megan Rast, and I’d like to take this opportunity to say:
So when November happened, and I marshaled the strength on November 9th to go to my day job as an environmental and diversity professional, key parts of me were broken. I felt personally indicted. How could my fellow Americans have gone so far from the eco, equitable and just country I’ve devoted my sweat equity to building? How could the meaningfulness infused in my choice of life’s work be meaningless to so many?
These questions have weighed heavily on my soul. They have changed me. They have reformulated my theory of change. They have converted me into an active citizen participating in my democracy. They have made me a proud, card-carrying member of the resistance.
People say to focus on one issue, focus on what you know. Well people, this is my one issue. This is what I know. And if planting my “Carbon Tax is THE Answer” flag in the sand ends with me tilting at windmills or Thelma-and-Louise-style driving off an insanity cliff, so be it. When I was getting chased by elephants and rhinos doing that fieldwork in the South African bush, the wildlife rangers nicknamed me Dudwani, which is Zulu for honey badger, because I would doggedly go forth no matter what. That means I was honeybadger status almost a decade before the viral Youtube video, since before it was a thing on the interwebs. And this I promise you: I’m going to keep on honeybadgering the shit out of this idea because it is that awesome and good ideas go to Washington DC to die. Not this time. Not today, Satan. #staynasty
Depending on how you count, I have either been sitting on this for 15 years or 3 months….
—yes, it is true (but unflattering to moi) that 15 years ago in an environmental economics class I learned about the efficiency and effectiveness of a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The numbers and data said it all. I was a convert then, but obvi did nothing about it. Life gets in the way? The takeaway is this: very smart people in our most venerable institutions of higher learning know some stuff, and we’ve ignored them this whole time. That is silly. We should stop, collaborate and listen.
—3 months ago I was listening to my favorite Crooked Media podcasts on my public transit commute home (low carbon intensity, natch) and heard laments about how the Democratic Party has no solutions for globalization and automation, Democrats only whine about the problem. Maybe a universal basic income so people can retrain? They said. But how would that even get paid for? [Insert rant with no solution].
How about NOT ending the conversation and solving the greatest threat humanity has ever faced AT THE SAME TIME? Attention successfully grabbed? Super.
OK let’s get something straight: this is not my idea. Clearly. Obviously. I didn’t invent it, I'm not even repackaging it compellingly. There's already been a bill in the Senate, multiple times over. I only want you to read it, digest it, love it as much as I do, sign the Change.org petition and spread the word to five friends about it. My personal aspiration is solely to be the honeybadger who unabashedly shoves this idea again and again out into the ether for long enough such that it gains and sustains the momentum it richly deserves. Especially since this Trump-era clusterfuck seems to have what used to be the "crisis of the year" on a daily basis. It's going to be a trek. Yes, I know. But I'm in it to win it. And rather than passively thinking that the arc of the moral universe will bend towards justice I’m going to bend that motherfucker cause it’s long past time. Who run the world? GIRLS.
The best ideas can be explained simply and quickly, so here’s the short-sized version of it, because yes. We really can solve these two problems at once. And yes, it really is this obvious:
Implement a broad-based "fee and dividend" carbon tax making "polluters pay" that returns the revenue generated as an equal distribution to households earning less than $250,000, and invests a smaller portion of the revenue into clean energy research and clean energy job retraining to accelerate the de-carbonization of our economy.
Enviroish/Megan: Wrote this all up and made a petition for your slactivist activation.
You: Sign the Action Network petition and share it with 5 people.
Questions about what you are signing and why? I got you. Read on below the jump.