The Corner

The Fool’s Cap

Here’s environmentalist of doubt Bjorn Lomborg writing in the Washington Post on Lieberman-Warner and the nonsense that is cap-and-trade:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a co-sponsor of the bill, has called it “the world’s most far-reaching program to fight global warming.” It is indeed policy on a grand scale. It would slow American economic growth by trillions of dollars over the next half-century. But in terms of temperature, the result will be negligible if China and India don’t also commit to reducing their emissions, and it will be only slightly more significant if they do. By itself, Lieberman-Warner would postpone the temperature increase projected for 2050 by about two years. Politicians favor the cap-and-trade system because it is an indirect tax that disguises the true costs of reducing carbon emissions. It also gives lawmakers an opportunity to control the number and distribution of emissions allowances, and the flow of billions of dollars of subsidies and sweeteners.

In short, cap-and-trade is, in many respects, more of a cap on growth than carbon emissions. And the real trade it will bring in its wake is in political favors. In fact, that’s much of the reason it appeals to so many in the Congress. It’s just another trough for their snouts. Wooing Obama way from cap-and-trade will, I think, be an uphill struggle. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect that the Democratic candidate’s loyalty to the ancient pieties of big government as well as his obviously shrewd understanding of the way that machine politics works will make it very difficult for him to walk away from the wonderful opportunity presented by cap-and-trade. McCain’s environmentalism, rooted as it is in a sort of neo-TR romanticism, might just allow for him to take a different, and better, approach (there have been some encouraging signs of late), one, moreover, that could even win him some badly needed votes. He should talk to Lomborg. And do so very publicly. And do so now.

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