It’s the Eponymy, Stupid


The December edition of the George C. Marshall Institute’s Policy Outlook has a nice bit on Poznan.

Marshall Institute president William O’Keefe thinks greenhouse gas emissions are a problem, but he’s far from sanguine about the reigning alarmist consensus. Since his comments echo much of “What Planet Gore Is For,” I reproduce a few excerpts below. Read the whole thing here [PDF].

Something on the order of 10,000 people are in Poznan, Poland for the annual meeting of the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP). Many developed countries and most U.N. delegates remain focused on mandating deep emission reductions in the coming decade and an 80% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050. Developing countries are saying that this is not enough because they are looking for a wealth transfer from developed countries. Either this is just political drama or these people arrived in Poznan from another planet. . . .

Welcome to Planet Gore! Let us take you to our leader’s conference keynote. But I digress . . .

The global economy is in tatters and the U.S. economy may well experience the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Any actions that would impose additional costs on energy use and constrain its use would make the economic situation even worse. As one of President Clinton’s advisors observed in the early 1990s, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

There is a clear recognition that new technologies are needed to slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, stabilize them, and ultimately reduce them. There should be no debate that technology emerges from healthy and growing economies, not stagnant and impoverished ones. The most recent emission data, for 2007, show a much slower rate of growth.1 And, it is virtually a certainty that this year’s data will show a reduction from 2007. This will not be the result of emission reduction actions; it will be the consequence of a deep global recession. What has happened economically here and globally this year contains important lessons for policy makers, but unfortunately there is no evidence that they are being learned by COP delegates. . . .

After getting some good shots in at the Stern report and garbage-in/gospel-out climate modeling, O’Keefe concludes:

The planet would be well served if the 10,000 in Poznan asked themselves whether there are lessons to be learned from the financial crisis that should be applied to climate policy. The biggest lessons ought to be that assumptions are not necessarily facts and that actions should not get too far ahead of knowledge, including knowledge of risks. Conventional wisdom should be re-examined, not kept on autopilot. There is much that we can do to address the climate risk, but it requires a strong economy and a sustained commitment to new technologies. Our lives have been improved and extended by the investment in knowledge creation and adopting the technology that comes from it. We put continued progress in jeopardy by substituting image and fear for fact and reality.


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