Robert Frank has an opinion piece in the NYT about the need for climate change action. He counters the complaints about the high cost of action by suggesting that people will adapt:
This figure was determined, however, before the arrival of more pessimistic estimates on the pace of global warming. So let’s assume a tax of $300 a ton, just to be safe.
Under such a tax, the prices of goods would rise in proportion to their carbon footprints — in the case of gasoline, for example, by roughly $2.60 a gallon.
A sudden price increase of that magnitude could indeed be painful. But if phased in, it would cause much less harm. Facing steadily increasing fuel prices, for example, manufacturers would scramble to develop more efficient vehicles.
Even from the existing menu of vehicles, a family could trade in its Ford Explorer, getting 15 miles per gallon, for a 32-m.p.g. Ford Focus wagon, thereby escaping the effect of higher gasoline prices. Europeans, many of whom already pay $4 a gallon more than Americans do for gasoline, have adapted to their higher prices with little difficulty.