Mark Gongloff’s Bloomberg opinion piece (“Natural disasters are the new normal,” May 15) painted a powerful picture of the growing costs to our entire society from weather-related disasters that are accelerating with planetary warming, which continues unabated due to continued burning of fossil fuels.

The true costs of burning fossil fuels have not been reflected in their prices — not only have the fuel industries been subsidized historically, but they have incurred many “negative externalities,” as economists refer to — costly side effects such as lung diseases and atmospheric warming.

It’s time to use plain old American economics and set the price of these carbon fuels to reflect their true cost. If, as many of the top economists and climate policy wonks have proposed, we charge fossil fuel producers a pollution fee to reflect the climate impact of a given quantity of their product, the pricing will be equitable and sensible.

With market competition, truly less expensive non-polluting fuels will be favored in the market, energy efficiency will become more popular, and rapid greenhouse gas emissions reductions will be achieved by not burning as much fossil fuel.

Under the most progressive of the carbon pricing schemes, “a carbon-fee-and-dividend,” the proceeds from fees collected will be placed in a Carbon Trust Fund for American households and disbursed regularly and equally to all in dividend checks that assure that the majority of households break even or come out ahead, regardless of increased fossil fuel prices.

Congress should act on this.

Cynthia Stancioff, Chesterville

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