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Responses on Waxman-Markey



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Patrick Appel at The Daily Dish has kindly linked to my Waxman-Markey post and (equally kindly) sought counter-arguments. He has put up one response (mostly linking to a couple of Real Climate and Climate Progress posts) without comment. I’ll try to comment on it, one paragraph at a time.

A reader points me to wiki profile of Chip Knappenberger.

I cited Knappenberger’s analysis for one purpose: prediction of the temperature impact of Waxman-Markey in the year 2100. I used this one source because it was the only such climate model prediction of which I am aware for this specific bill. He used the MAGIC model (which is the standard model for such analysis), linked to the site where you can download it yourself, and specified the parameter assumptions. I have done similar back-of-envelope math on this specific prediction myself, and get a very similar answer. I welcome any competent GCM-based alternative predictions, and will happily modify my analysis based on an improved forecast. I think you will find, however, that no such credible forecast will change the conclusion of the cost-benefit analysis.

It is just absurd to claim that “the Earth has actually been cooling for the last 7 or 8 years” when the 2010s will easily be the hottest decade on record (see “Very warm 2008 makes this the hottest decade in recorded history by far“). Also, the warmest year on record was 2005, according to the U.S. temperature dataset that best measures total planetary warming, the one from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (see here)

At no time have I disputed the scientific basis for AGW. I have used only U.N. IPCC forecasts whenever available (and cited them down to page and table numbers).

Second, the cost to the economy and the taxpayer is very low according to every independent study (see “Intro to climate economics: Why even strong climate action has such a low total cost — one tenth of a penny on the dollar” and EPA Analysis of Waxman-Markey: “Returning the revenues in [a lump-sum rebate] could make the median household, and those living at lower ends of the income distribution, better off than they would be without the program”).

I used the exact EPA forecast that is referenced in the above paragraph, and cited the specific table where you can find it for yourself. This projection incorporates the assumption of a lump-sum rebate, as per my post (as unrealistic as I believe such an outcome actually is in the real political world).

And strong climate action could actually have immediate benefits for our economy according to one of the nation’s top economists (see Nobelist Krugman attacks “junk economics”: Climate action “now might actually help the economy recover from its current slump” by giving “businesses a reason to invest in new equipment and facilities”). And that is entirely separate from the crucial need for comprehensive energy and climate legislation like Waxman-Markey to restore US leadership in clean energy through , which will be one of the biggest job-creating industries in the world in the coming decades.

Once again, I used the EPA’s forecast for net economic costs (prior to any benefits created by avoided warming damages). I used the IPCC’s estimate for the size of the damages from avoided warming that should be netted against this. They really ought to take up this debate with the EPA and the IPCC.

Finally, of course, we have the “analysis” that says if the United States acts alone, we can’t solve the global warming problem. Well, duh. In fact, all of the other developed countries committed more than a decade ago to restrict their emissions — and they have been begging us to take some action for many, many years. It is, needless to say, inconceivable that other nations are going to take more action until the richest country in the world — the one that would be greatest amount of cumulative emissions by far — starts to clean up its act.

This issue was addressed directly in the post. The question, it seems to me, is not just whether it is “inconceivable that other nations are going to take more action until the richest country in the world — the one that would be greatest amount of cumulative emissions by far — starts to clean up its act”, but what impact a unilateral action by the U.S. would have on the likelihood that these nations would do that. See the original post for more detail.



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