Climate Creativity


An “Untax” on Carbon

I recently stumbled upon a book by energy consultant Steven Stoft called “Carbonomics,” which provides a wonderful overview of various approaches to the intertwined challenges of climate and energy. If you’re looking for a layperson’s intro into these issues (as I certainly was), I’d recommend it.

What most interested me about the book was one of Stoft’s political ideas—something he calls an “untax.” Such a policy would tax carbon, but refund the money collected by the government directly back to the American people each year. There are two main advantages to this. First, it provides a powerful incentive for businesses and individuals to conserve energy and invest in renewable technology. As we saw in 1973 and 1979, major spikes in oil prices do in fact lead to dramatic conservation efforts. Pricing is a powerful tool. By raising carbon prices artificially, we effectively incentivize efficiency and renewable energy innovation. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, an untax avoids the political stigma associated with the very word “tax.” Untax policy, unlike cap and trade or traditional carbon taxes, could have great potential to receive bipartisan political backing.

Under ACES, Congress settled for a cap and trade system, which is also a powerful tool in efficiently addressing carbon emissions. Unfortunately, one problem we have seen is the enormous political influence of big industry in the shaping of the bill. It will be interesting to see how effective this policy is in the coming years.


Carbon Inequality: Why We Need A Green Revolution in the Midwest

In Carbon Geography:  The Political Economy of Congressional Support for Legislation Intended to Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Production, Michael Cragg and Matthew Kahn demonstrate how geographic carbon inequality in the United States has produced political gridlock in Washington. Representatives from areas with higher per-capita carbon emissions are much less likely to vote in favor of emission-reduction acts, because cap and trade laws would stifle the growth of valuable coal factories in their districts. The trend is shown strikingly on a US map (taken from their paper):

Per Capita Emissions

The conservative, rural Midwest, with its high per capita carbon emissions, would face a dramatically higher “carbon bill” than would the more liberal, low-carbon coasts. These stratified carbon costs help explain the recent struggle of the American Clean Energy Act to produce significant steps towards CO2 reductions: in order to appease carbon-intense states, Waxman-Markey had to concede 80% of its cap and trade auctions, channeling funds back to polluting utilities.

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A Review of Various Ridesharing Websites

A quick Google search of “carpool websites” yields a plethora of sites dedicated to linking potential ridesharers. While some of these sites have established their own unique niches, other sites’ capabilities overlap quite a bit. Combing through and testing out a couple of them, I’ve examined the latest in online ride-matching technology. Here’s my rough analysis of a few of the many carpool websites out there:

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Peace through Art and Writing Challenge

Speaking at the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice CenterIn May, I was honored as a high school winner in the Peace Through Art and Writing Challenge, held by the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center. My essay, which received second place, examined the relationship between the global environment and world peace. I was very pleased to have the opportunity share it aloud at the winner’s banquet. The winning essays and art (my work included) are posted online here.


Students for Solar Schools: Bringing Solar to Schools Around the Nation

Hi everyone! I’d like to tell you about an amazing initiative started by fellow climate champion Adam Raudonis, called Students for Solar Schools. The program is a coalition of youth who work to promote the installation of solar panels on schools around the nation. Very cool stuff!

Visit Adam’s site

It’s still in the planning stages, but I’m hoping to expand the solar schools project in Rhode Island, as I’ll be at Brown University next year. I’m investigating an initiative called Rhode Island Solar on Schools.


Climate Creativity Kickoff

Welcome to Climate Creativity. This site is an expansion of Patrick Ouziel’s and my Project Carpool Website, which was designed to attract student support for the expansion of Miramonte High’s carpooling program. As both of us are moving onto college next year, we hope to post our progress on this site. We’ve also included past videos and projects from our work under the Climate Champions program.



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