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12.14.2004

Dinosaur Tales

TCS: Tech Central Station is going to have many interesting articles on climate change this week. Already we have a look at the numbers to show the actions would be useless (e.g. 0.2 degrees difference by 2050 w/ US involvement), and also see an alternative motivation for the entire protocol (e.g. developing countries get money in the form sold credits on the greenhouse gas markets).

Rather than cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars, why don't people who actually believe that climate change is a threat, that it is caused by human action, and that it is cheaper to eliminate that action than adapt to the changes, just use nuclear energy or buy some solar cells and drive an electric car?

It would be a lot better for the economy, and the climate wouldn't be much different either way.

It might also shut up the player piano press, pushing predictions of pandemonium. ssssSNAP!

3 Comments:

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Miguel said...

I'd like my first car to be electric (although that's less fuel effecient than a motorcycle, AFAIK... maybe I'll get one of them instead); I use mass transportation for now.

Don't you think pricing is inadequate to deal with pollution, if it doesn't include adjustment for externalities? I believe there is a well proven theoretical need for a central authority to prevent local actors from shifting pollution costs on to the rest of the world.

I think your "cost the US economy" is something of a straw hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars given the current political situation; maybe you disagree and are concerned about the Republican Party's tendency to interfere with business on behalf of environmentalists, though.

Civilization and technology turned the Fertile Crescent into a desert; I think it's reasonable to try stopping that from occuring globally.

Much more valuable than progress in developed countries on CO2 omissions would be ways of encouraging devolping countries to do the same. Maybe TCS has a good plan for that? If not, maybe reducing 1st world emissions is actually the most good possible to do.

 
At 1:11 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

As for an electric car, NYC’s power is mainly hydroelectric & nuclear, right? I might be wrong, but that would mean the most efficient option is a electric car, if your concern is less greenhouse gas. My first car with Abby is probably going to be a hybrid, mainly because I want to support the technology so the government doesn’t have to.

There are many problems with Kyoto from an economics perspective. First, it is unclear we are dealing with pollution costs (the three cases you must believe in order to buy climate change in the original post). I don’t believe it yet. Check out the latest issue of American Enterprise Magazine.

Second, it isn’t based upon GDP or actual economic output, but on population. So the goal is to get every human to be producing the same amount of greenhouse gasses, even if the world relies on 5% of the population to produce 20%+ of the goods and services. That doesn’t make sense. If it were something like, your allotted greenhouse gas amount is the percentage of the whole, depending on your economy. This way, populous poor countries wouldn’t have any credits to sell, because they produce no goods.

In fact, that would make it so that the more innovative countries can get credit from the less innovative countries, both having the incentive to improve. If you want to talk about negative externalities, look at the incentives for undeveloped countries in this case: if they develop less industry, they get more immediate aid in the form of money from developed countries unwilling to lower their greenhouse gas output. That’s horrible!

As for the desert of the Fertile Crescent, I would use only recent examples of technology being applied. For instance, productivity in farming has been skyrocketing for decades and all Malthusian nightmares of overpopulation & a starving world are false. The point isn’t just about farming, the point is that humans are extremely flexible, and most doom and gloom scenarios, even if true, can be adapted to.

As for talk of the US economy, I agree that the likelihood is small that Bush or the next president does something bad. I was trying to defend the decision to not join Kyoto, which much of the world thinks this makes us on par with UBL or worse.

Your last point has it backwards. The best way to help developing countries is to develop their industry, not to hurt ours. The goal here should be to have more people in the world living in developed countries, and the way to do that is through an open, free market, not to give them cash for being undeveloped.

 
At 7:09 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

As far as an alternative to Kyoto, or pollution in general for developing countries, look at this piece by the host of TCS, James Glassman, who says it well:

Instead, responsible advocates are building a consensus around the right approach, which concentrates not on destroying the economies of developing countries through limits to growth, but on improving those economies through the use of more energy -- the best leverage for boosting living standards. Wealth, after all, makes health. As a nation gets richer, it gets cleaner.

Poor farmers in China, India and Africa burning dung and charcoal are releasing not just CO2 but real pollutants into the air. The role of rich nations should be to transfer technologies that produce cleaner energy more efficiently.

 

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