The Corner

The Cost of Carbon Reductions

One of the problems with the global-warming conversation is that it is a political and economic debate masquerading as a scientific debate. Even when one takes as given the consensus view of how and why global warming operates, the policies do not flow inevitably and plainly from the science. The main obstacle to adopting an effective global-warming policy in the United States is not, contra Neil deGrasse Tyson et al., skepticism about scientific claims. Rather, the main obstacle to our adopting an effective global-warming policy is that the warming globe has upon it China, India, etc. Global warming is a global issue, and even radical cuts in the U.S. emissions would have little practical effect in the absence of similarly serious commitments in the rest of the world. And it is here that Tyson and his acolytes refuse to deal with reality. Forget about getting China to agree to artificially lower its future standard of living; here in the real world, even progressives in rich countries are backing away from modest global-warming policies.

Data point: Even Australia’s Labor leader feels obliged to swear that the carbon tax his party is running on isn’t a carbon tax, as pointed out by the Sydney Morning Herald (via Watts Up With That). Australia, a rich country, had a carbon tax and, after feeling its effects, repealed it. Australian Labor has pledged its opposition to reinstating a carbon tax, even if that pledge is something less than convincing. If you cannot get rich countries to adhere to relatively modest emissions controls, good luck getting poor countries to back the radical ones that would be required to satisfy the scientific consensus target for preventing the expected warming. 

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