Flu season is upon us, if my steadily worsening fever, sticky throat and violent chills, in conjunction with the professional medical community’s repeated declarations that flu season is indeed upon us, are any indication.

To celebrate, I performed a ritual I invented when I was an undergrad (alas, now I find myself on the wrong side of 26), of going for a run in half a dozen layers in order to deny to myself that anything was wrong. The layers were decent armor against the chill of this Super Bowl Sunday, but the hard part quickly proved to be the breathing: My lungs weren’t taking particularly well to it.

Rather than meditating on how uncomfortable this was, I decided to perform another, perhaps somewhat more ubiquitous-among-the-sick ritual. I reflected on how thankful I was for all the times I wasn’t gasping down a road in south Boulder at an unsteady 14:30 per mile. And I realized how thankful I was for all the lovely things in my life that I usually take for granted. But one thing, above all else, stood out at this particular moment.

The air. It was humid, and it hurt to breathe, but that had more to do with me than it, as I verified when I checked the air-quality index upon my return. I shuddered slightly to imagine how awful this would have been if I were living in a climate where pollutants collected more, such as in Salt Lake City, Utah. Thankfully, that was not Boulder, at least today. But the trend for the nation is not so friendly.

As we burn fossil fuels such as coal, particulate matter is released into the atmosphere, causing relatively silent health epidemics the world around. Should this not be priced into our accounting of whether we should get our energy from renewables or their historically favored counterparts? If you, like me, think it should, then you will probably love the idea of a carbon tax. It essentially imposes a price on emitting carbon, disincentivizing without disallowing the practice, and providing for a smooth transition to a cleaner energy economy and a cleaner world.

So make the best of this flu season! Make some soup, and call Sen. Cory Gardner, Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Jared Polis, and tell them, amid the coughing, that as one of their constituents, you would love to see a national price on carbon.

By Dan Palken, Boulder

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