02/12/2009 07:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Brass Tax with Carbon

In 2006, An Inconvenient Truth swept through movie theaters across the nation. On January 28th, 2009, three years later, Al Gore delivered another potent message, this time directed to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Overall, Gore's testimony was delivered with the same passion found in his documentary, but this time with an even more stark sense of urgency.

During the trial, Gore extended his support for Obama's proposed economic recovery package, suggesting the plan would lead to advancements in renewable energy, a national smart grid, and cleaner vehicles. Additionally, Gore spoke about implementing a cap and trade plan to control industrial carbon emissions. Gore believes a cap and trade would send a positive message abroad and encourage international partnership to cut back on carbon emissions worldwide.

There was controversy circling Gore's proclamations about using a cap and trade plan in the US to control industrial carbon emissions. While President Obama initially sided with Gore during his campaign, it is unclear if Obama still believes a cap and trade plan is the best route. Some on Obama's team worry that a cap and trade plan may have potential economic consequences.

According to the EPA, "Cap and Trade" is a "market-based policy tool for protecting human health and the environment." Under such a plan, a strict emissions limit, or cap, is set and each source, be it a farm, factory, or some other industrial entity, is given an allowance permitting a certain amount of emissions below the cap. The trade comes into play when one source produces more emissions than they have been allotted. When this happens, over-emitting businesses can purchase unused credits from other companies.

The other and arguably more popular option to control carbon emissions is to enforcing a carbon tax, "which charges companies based on the emissions they produce."

With both options come the good and the bad...

Let's take a close look at a carbon tax. The good: Some believe companies will be motivated to use as little carbon as possible to avoid large taxes. The bad: Without a set limit, a carbon tax would allow wealthy companies to continue to use large amount of carbon without as much strain as smaller companies would bear.

Now, lets look at a cap and trade. The good: A cap and trade plan would allow us to control the amount of carbon emissions. The bad: A cap and trade plan could encourage companies to meet the cap with no motivation to cut back on emissions and would create a market for savvy financial guys to find more revenue for themselves.

While Gore's testimony may have received mixed reviews, everyone can agree this is an issue that must be dealt with immediately. Act now by sending an email to your congressional representatives or to President Obama.

The best thing each of us can do is reduce our own carbon emissions in our daily lives. Let's get to it!

-Eco Warrior

First posted on Creative Citizen blog.