Readers React: Climate change, a ‘wicked problem,’ can be tamed with carbon pricing

To the editor: The Dec. 2 explainer on carbon pricing quotes Frank Incropera, author of “Climate Change: A Wicked Problem.”

In the book, Incropera distinguishes between a “tame problem” — which has a defined cause, objectives and output — and a “wicked problem,” which is multifaceted, contradictory and constantly changing.

Wicked problems involve chains of issues that generate different, changing solutions. They touch on social, economic, moral, energy and justice issues at the same time. Climate change is such a problem.

I was glad to see that a man of his expertise said, “I strongly favor the carbon tax because of its simplicity and particularly if it is revenue neutral, it’s not going to impair the economy.” I was encouraged. A revenue-neutral price on carbon seems to be a fast-acting way to start to untangle this wicked problem.


Penelope Mann, Claremont


To the editor: While California officials are in Paris bragging about how green the Golden State is, the Public Utilities Commission is quietly preparing to deliver a catastrophic blow to the booming solar industry.

The PUC will soon finalize its approval of utility Pacific Gas and Electric’s request to double the exit fee it imposes on ratepayers who depart PG&E for a Community Choice energy program. PG&E has already milked more than $50 million out of its ex-customers, and now it wants more.


Second, the PUC is considering watering down the Net Energy Metering program that incentivizes homes and businesses to go solar. If the monopoly utilities have their way, solar owners will be hit with new monthly fees and paid less for the surplus electricity they generate, making it uneconomical for most people to install solar.

Bonjour, Paris. Au revoir, solar.

Erica Etelson, Berkeley

The writer is a founding member of Californians for Energy Choice.

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