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The Fossil Fuel Industry Must Pay for Its Sins

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: preshaa, NASA)

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(Image: <a href= Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: preshaa, NASA)” width=”308″ height=”383″ />(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: preshaa, NASA)On Sunday, an out-of-control wildfire in Arizona claimed the lives of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite wildfire-fighting team.

It’s thought that the firefighters died as they tried to protect themselves from the intense flames by using fire-resistant shields and heat tents.

The massive wildfire, near the town of Yarnell, Arizona, has now burned nearly 8,500 acres, and was at zero percent containment as of Monday morning.

The death of the 19 firefighters is the deadliest single event for firefighters since 9/11.

And, when those brave firefighters are laid to rest later this week, their funeral costs will likely be paid by family members.

But that shouldn’t be the case, because the fossil fuel industry killed these men, and the fossil fuel industry should be responsible for paying for their funerals.

Their death is just the latest example of the overwhelming negative externalities associated with this nation’s addiction to toxic and dirty fossil fuels.

A negative externality is a cost born by all of us that was produced by a private entity and then dumped on us – externalized from that business to us.

Externalities reduce the costs of business for corporations, which in turn increase their profits.

The fossil fuel industry will do anything to protect these externalities, because it means that they can dump their trash, in the form of carbon dioxide, on you and me without having to pay a dime for it.

And, profiting off of externalities is at the core of the business model for many corporations in America – especially those in the fossil fuel industry.

According to a report by the TEEB for Business Coalition, the top 100 global environmental externalities are costing the global economy about $4.7 trillion a year. This includes the economic costs of greenhouse gas emissions; loss of natural resources; and the loss of nature-based services such as carbon storage by forests, climate change, and air pollution-related health costs.

And, the primary production and processing sectors analyzed in that report, like the fossil fuel industry, are estimated to have externality expenses that you and I pay for totaling $7.3 trillion, which is equal to roughly 13% of the global economic output in 2009.

When it comes to fossil-fuel industry driven climate change, one of the biggest negative externalities that you and I are forced to cope with, and pay for, is the drastic increase in extreme weather.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2011 and 2012, there were 25 floods, droughts, storms, heat waves and wildfires that EACH caused at least $1 billion in damages.

More importantly, these severe weather events caused 1,100 fatalities and up to $188 billion in collective damages.

That $188 billion came out of yours and mine wallet, not the fossil fuel industry’s corporate accounts.

Right now, the fossil fuel industry has no incentive to change its ways.

There’s no incentive to invest in cleaner and greener technology, no incentive to pollute less, and no incentive to curb global warming.

That needs to change, and it needs to change now.

The fossil fuel industry is the only industry in America that doesn’t pay to dump its trash.

That waste, primarily carbon dioxide, is driving climate change, and helping to increase the number of super storms, heat waves, and deadly wildfires that we have to endure.

It’s time to stop all of the damage to our planet, it’s time to stop the fossil fuel industry from killing people, and we need to do it by putting a cost on the fossil fuel industry’s waste.

It’s time for a carbon tax.

As soon as a carbon tax is applied, all of the clean and green energy alternatives to fossil fuels become economically viable, while fossil fuels become more expensive to produce.

If the Exxon’s and the BP’s and Koch Industries of the world were forced to pay for the emissions that they put out, through a carbon tax, they would have more of an incentive not to pollute the environment.

It’s time to stop letting the fossil fuel industry openly pollute our air, damage our ecosystems, and destroy our environment, while you and I are forced to cope with super storms, health ailments, charred houses and dead firemen.

Call your lawmakers in Washington, and tell them to say no to fossil fuel subsidies, and yes to a carbon tax!