I am going out on a limb and take your side. Not flying is more symbolism than reality.

Day after tomorrow I am going to fly about 1000 miles to give a talk at a major university in defense of a carbon tax. Maybe I will have 50–100 people in the audience. If I convince even one of them to become a supporter of a carbon tax, I will have done more good for the environment than if I had stayed home.

Let’s focus on practical things that matter. Like making flying (and all other carbon intensive activities) more expensive through some kind of carbon tax or fee. A direct hit in the pocketbook is a heck of a lot more powerful than a whole bunch of e-ink spent preaching about how guilty fliers should feel.

Hey, maybe a tax will make flying so expensive that next time a pro-climate-action student group invites me to speak, they will want me to appear by internet link, not in person. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

They won’t do it out of a sense of flying guilt. They MIGHT do it if the cost of that airline ticket strained the budget of the student club that is sponsoring my talk.

Written by

Economist, Senior Fellow at Niskanen Center, Yale Ph.D. Interests include environment, health care policy, social safety net, economic freedom.

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