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The audience for the E. N. Thompson Forum on World Issues on March 3 heard Dr. Gilbert Metcalf, an economist, explain that competitive markets can be efficient only if the cost of goods includes all costs. The damage that the burning of fossil fuels is doing to the atmosphere and human health should be part of the price of coal, gas and oil. Either a carbon tax or cap and trade have the effect of putting a price on carbon. In his view, a carbon tax is preferable because it is more straightforward to administer. He did not mention the nationwide study that has shown that the U.S. economy would be strengthened by a carbon tax if all the proceeds are refunded to households. Dr. Metcalf likened national climate policy to home insurance. We buy such insurance because even if damages are not certain, the impacts would be great.

The second speaker was Marlo Lewis, whose Ph.D. is in Government. Despite his lack of training in climate science, he showed many charts chosen to illustrate that the scientific consensus about human-caused climate change is wrong. In a survey of the authors of 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science articles published in journals of the profession between 1991 and 2011, with subsequent follow-up to confirm their views, it was found that 97 percent agreed that climate change is occurring and is caused by human activity. Many of the things Lewis asserted are addressed factually and thoughtfully at the website, Skeptical Science. 

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Becky Seth, Lincoln

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