Bill Nye, the Science Guy is back at it again, proposing to save the world with a host of carbon taxes, at least one of which he imagines would be levied against livestock farmers. In an interview with the Daily Beast, the television personality suggested that, well, the farts of cows were among the greatest contributors to global warming, and in order to holistically confront carbon in the atmosphere, we needed to make them pay a penalty for that exhaust.
“This is what we can do and it’s a win-win: to have a fee on carbon,” he said. “So if you are raising livestock and producing a lot of carbon dioxide with your farm equipment and the exhaust from the animals, then you would pay a fee on that and it would be reflected in the price of meat, reflected in the price of fish, reflected in the price of peanuts.
“This would be a free-market way to reckon the real cost of a meat diet to the world,” Nye continued. “But conservatives now are against such a thing because they’re against any regulation, any tax or any government involvement in anything. But again, it won’t last, and a carbon fee would be a fantastic thing for the world.”
It’s not clear how taxing cow farts would be a “fantastic thing for the world,” except inasmuch as it would grow the government and give Democrats in Washington more control over the U.S. farming industry. Oh, and it would apparently send the price of meat and peanuts skyrocketing. Perhaps the idea is that once the price of ground beef gets to a certain level, most Americans will switch to a vegetarian diet, buy a Prius, take three-minute showers, and the world will be saved. We’re also not sure how any aspect of this scheme fits the definition of “free market,” but hey, Nye isn’t a scientist, much less an economist.
The idea of forcing the world onto a vegetarian diet as a means of combating climate change is not a new one; several prominent environmentalists have argued for years that the American cattle industry is responsible for an enormous amount of methane production. Unfortunately for them, the scientific evidence tying “cow exhaust” to global warming is even thinner than that tying fossil fuels to the erosion of sea ice. At best, these recommendations represent an attempt to throw darts at the wall. At worst, they illuminate a coalition forming between one group of hippies – the vegan, PETA crowd – and another – the tree-hugging, solar power children. With both groups more interested in promoting their own agendas than in actually getting the science right.
Leftism is leftism, though, and these solutions all have one thing in common: They would wreak havoc on the industries responsible for making America the most prosperous nation in history, throw more people than ever into poverty, and give more control and strength to the federal government and its international counterparts. But please, do tell us more about the “free market,” Mr. Nye. Over a steak dinner, perhaps?