Inverse Daily: How to pass a carbon tax

How do you get people to support carbon taxes? Show them the money.

Fall is nearly here, people. There’s so much weird, good TV coming very soon to distract me from killer robots and how to balance work vs. personal time in the autumnal season.

I’m Nick Lucchesi, executive editor at Inverse. Email me with suggestions on how to make this newsletter even better: nick@inverse.com. And read on to learn about ancient asteroids, the power of New Jersey, and more.

Don’t forget: Our Women of Science Tarot Deck giveaway is open for the rest of this week. Enter to win here.

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INVERSE QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Music festivals are supposed to be a place where you can go and be yourself, and it’s really impossible to be yourself if you feel like you’re constantly under surveillance and being watched.”

— Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future.

$paceX

SpaceX could be worth anywhere between $120 billion and $5 billion, depending on the success of its internet satellite constellation. Starlink, which is designed to use thousands of satellites to provide internet access to the world, could transform SpaceX from a company that was worth $33 billion in May to one that’s worth even more than Tesla.

Why does that matter? Because Starlink is part of SpaceX’s plan to get the money to build a Mars city. While the satellite launch industry only brings in around $5 billion per year in its entirety, Starlink could give SpaceX a five percent slice of the $1 trillion internet access industry, or $50 billion in other terms. Considering how the price of a Mars city has been placed somewhere between $100 billion and $10 trillion, that sort of revenue could provide a path for the company to actually get close to meeting its goal of building a city by 2050. Read more.

The more you know:

Wonk with me for a sec

Twitter trolls aside, world leaders will convene at the United Nations on Friday for the Climate Summit. They’ll discuss whether or not the Paris Agreement is being upheld. That agreement centers around the idea that people need to work together to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — and the way things are going now indicates that’s not going to happen.

What can be done? World leaders and economists argue the best thing nations can do is adopt carbon taxes. Such a tax would raise the cost of polluting energy sources like oil and gas, and corporations — by far, the world’s biggest polluters — will be less likely to pollute in order to protect share price. After all, just 100 companies have been responsible for 70 percent of the world’s air pollution since 1988. Why shouldn’t they be taxed for polluting the planet to record heat levels?

The idea of a carbon tax faces remarkably powerful opposition. But in a new study, researchers contend that the public would call on policy makers to pass a carbon tax if they realized that money can be turned around and used to help their communities in the form of tax rebates. That process is called “revenue recycling.” Read more.

The more you know:

Ancient asteroid b/w delightful effect

About 466 million years ago, around the same time that an asteroid collision in outer space blanketed Earth with dust, our planet entered an ice age. Scientists say this was no coincidence. While dust frequently falls to Earth from space, the scientists behind a new study say this was more like opening the bag from a vacuum cleaner and shaking it all over your living room.

In two European geological sites, huge deposits of dust appear to correspond to the beginning of an ice age that resulted in a massive explosion in Earth’s marine life. Before the asteroid broke up in our solar system and cloaked our planet in dust, Earth was mostly warm. Following this dustup, parts of the planet became cooler, which led to more diverse forms of ocean life.

In this way, an asteroid disintegrating between Mars and Jupiter nearly half a billion years ago gave rise to one of the biggest explosions of biodiversity in our planet’s history. Read more.

The more you know:

Sunday Scaries

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New Jersey represent

Let’s face it: It’s nearly impossible to avoid a startling array of chemicals, whether they’re in the water we drink, the air we breathe, or the food we eat. Sure, harmful pesticides like DDT may not be on the market anymore, but new chemicals of concern, such as polyfluoroalkyl substances, are finding their way into our bodies. Called PFAS for short, they are also known as “forever chemicals.” They are the Terminator of chemicals. Bad, bad things.

Enter the great state of New Jersey, here to save the day. New research in the journal Environmental Science and Technology shows that one type of bacteria can actually break down this tough and nasty environmental pollutant. A microbe living in the soil of the NJ wetlands has a unique ability that you just have to know about. Read more.

The more your know:

And now, a moment for algae

If humanity wants to meet its carbon emissions targets, it may have to start thinking green.

Algae, the green aquatic lifeforms, could provide the answer. Texas-based Hypergiant Industries has developed a bioreactor capable of sequestering as much carbon from the atmosphere as an acre of trees — all from a box measuring 3 feet by 3 feet. The box could connect to an office building’s HVAC system to make the air cleaner, and Hypergiant is envisioning smart cities that use the leftover matter to create fuels.

Will it work? Whether it offers a solution on a large scale remains to be seen, but the company has a prototype version up and running. Read more.

The more you know:

Today’s Good Thing

Today, that’s this weird video posted on our Instagram.

(Go ahead and hit follow while you’re there.)

Watch Now

Meanwhile …

  • Musk Reads: Model S prototype beats the Porsche Taycan, and a next-gen vehicle gets a production date.
  • Star Wars IX leak could confirm a canonical time travel twist.
  • Rise of Skywalker first scene leak suggests two classic characters might be digitally de-aged.

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That’s it for today.

Who else is excited for Loki?

— Nick @ Inverse