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Recent Greenhouse "Wisdom" from the Pages of the Medical Journal of Australia
Volume 11, Number 11: 12 March 2008

Noting that every newborn baby "represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions," Walters (2007), who is an associate professor of obstetric medicine at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth, suggests there should be a Baby Levy in the form of a carbon tax, whereby "every family choosing to have more than a defined number of children [which he intimates should be two] should be charged a carbon tax that would fund the planting of enough trees to offset the carbon cost generated by a new human being."

How large should such a tax be? Walters calculates that for Australia "each child born should be offset by planting 4 hectares of trees, to allow for the time they take to reach maturity, and attrition through crop losses, bushfires, dieback and so on," which he says "infers a levy per child of at least $5,000 at birth (to purchase the land needed and plant trees) and an annual tax of $400-$800 thereafter for the life of the child (for maintenance of the afforestation project)," which fees he bases on 1990 figures, leading him to suggest that they would be "probably much more now." By the same reasoning, he additionally envisions carbon credits for the users and prescribers of, among other things, "condoms and sterilization procedures," which would lead to "rewards for family planning clinics and hospitals that provide such greenhouse-friendly services."

Also writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, Egger (2007), who is director of the Centre for Health Promotion and Research in Sydney, touts a personal carbon trading scheme, the plan of which is to allocate to every individual in the world an equal number of tradeable energy units per year, based on a budget which is set by "a central budgetary council." The trading of such units would be conducted either through existing credit cards or through "a carbon card system administered by banks." Under this system, as he describes it, "individuals who are left with carbon credits (i.e., those who are frugal with non-renewable energy use) are then able to sell these back into the marketplace, thereby gaining financial benefit," while "those who overuse their quota pay a premium price for extra energy use," with unused units being "retired, with a view to contraction of the total energy budget to a sustainable level."

And you thought a simple gas tax was a little much! Welcome to the brave new world of Al Gore and James Hansen.

Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso

References
Egger, G. 2007. Personal carbon trading: a potential "stealth intervention" for obesity reduction? Medical Journal of Australia 187: 185-187.

Walters, B.N.J. 2007. Personal carbon tracing: a potential "stealth intervention for obesity reduction? Medical Journal of Australia 187: 668.