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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Global Warming and Economics

I saw this in the commentaries at Althouse in a thread reagrding Gore and his Carbon Credit offset market. I thought it was worth repeating here:

It's hard to use an economic argument to create a crusade. Perhaps for that reason, Gore & Co. have tried to sell their cure-alls for global warming as a moral imperative. Thus, it's hardly surprising that they are now getting jabbed by their own rhetoric. As others note, there's nothing unusual about using market forces to solve an economic problem -- if you think of global warming as a problem in economics, then it's just a matter of structuring the market so that all relevant costs and benefits are taken into account, after which the market can arrive at an efficient allocation. But that frame of reference carries with it the downside of cost/benefit analysis; breezy "doom is coming" stuff won't do. Among other things, the manifest uncertainties in all of the projections of possible results many decades into the future make it difficult to frame a case for the kind of vast and hugely expensive present-day remedies Gore has proposed. By the same token, anything less than vast and radical remedies to slash the emission of heat-trapping gases have no impact, and thus no benefit to make them worth the (reduced) cost.Recasting the discussion as a moral issue is an effort to avoid all of that. It has the enormous political benefit of allowing one side to dismiss the other as evil ("deniers") who are probably in the pay of the devil. That's so much easier as a marketing technique. Unfortunately, a moral frame doesn't work even on its own terms -- no matter how you frame the discussion, there's no avoiding, or hiding, the huge costs and radical changes in lifestyles that the remedies Gore proposes would entail. The moral frame has the added consequence that it makes the proponents of those remedies (none of whom intends to give up the high-flying lifestyle) look and sound like hypocrites. In all, this sounds like just deserts.

No doubt!

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Great stuff.

Another guy over there posted this:

I read this article earlier in the day and it made me wonder how much it would cost to buy my way out of my evil right wing lifestyle, and could live carbon neutral like the enlightened people such as Al Gore. I went to a carbon offset webpage and it was about $135 per year.

Unlike Al Gore, I don't own a pool, hot tub, a couple large homes, and I rarely fly. So I admit, my carbon footprint is miniscule compared to a huge polluter like Gore.

I was interested in what it would cost to offset all the carbon in the US. This may not be totally accurate, since I used emissions from Wikipedia and used an average for carbon reduction costs, but the whole country could be carbon neutral for a year for $90 Billion.

So if carbon offsets were real and worked, we could reduce the carbon footprint of the US by 40% with a $36 billion payment

2:29 PM, April 26, 2007  

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