I agree with Leah C. Stokes (“Biden has a climate mandate,” Ideas, Nov. 8) that significant changes are needed to deal with climate change, but I would add two things to her proposals.
Stokes proposes pollution standards for power plants, cars, methane, and appliances. No doubt we’d need to regulate trucks, railroads, airlines, and many other things too. Instead of, or in addition to, this piecemeal approach, we should impose a carbon tax with a 100 percent rebate (to be divided equally among each citizen). We could then let the market decide the most efficient ways to reduce carbon emissions.
Nevertheless, pollution standards and heat pumps and windmills and solar roofs will not generate sufficient electricity on a calm winter night. Batteries can help, but they are too expensive at present. We should encourage the use of nuclear power.
The current generation of nuclear plants is reliable and safe and already generates about 20 percent of our electricity. At the very least, we should set the carbon tax high enough to keep these plants in operation. Construction of new plants has proved slow and expensive. Next-generation designs promise to be simpler and less expensive. The government should invest in their development by providing an initial market, installing nuclear power and district heating in several military bases, as has been studied.
James Van Zandt