The Corner

Lomborg on Climate Change

A reader dismisses Bjorn Lomborg’s op-ed from Sunday because Lomborg postulates a 100-year Kyoto extension in drawing the conclusion that it will have little or no effect at great expense. After all, he argues, Kyoto will soon end soon and a new agreement will be drafted. He also dismisses concerns that severe curbs on carbon emissions — such as those of Kyoto — will devastate the economy, since they can always be undone, but the economic damage from global warming cannot:

Since any new law would be under human control and reversible, it doesn’t ring with the same sort of “devastating impact on our economy” as does the potential for systemic agricultural disruption and urgent, poorly-planned, Katrina-writ-larger population resettlement.  

That’s great, unless you’re one of the people who loses his job because of climate policy — maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get it back when the policy changes. Aside from that problem, talk of mass migrations is the stuff of movies and Messianic Environmentalism. Nothing we know scientifically about global warming’s causes justifies such an apocalyptic view of its effects. Global warming could easily be a boon for many agricultural sectors. As we’ve seen this year, they can’t even get the annual hurricane forecast right with the climate models we have. I don’t see any reason to think that they can predict weather patterns that cause massive human displacements due to the two degrees celsius of warming we are supposedly going to get by 2100. Thanks to technology, we have people living in both Nova Scotia and Panama. Somehow both survive. (Hell, somehow people even manage to live in Newark, N.J.)

Look, if we really want to limit the human effect on climate change — whether it is substantial or negligible — it’s very easy. We already have a solution that doesn’t involve economic catastrophe. The widespread use of nuclear power is what sets France apart on carbon emissions. They’ve been using it safely for years, as have many regions of the United States. We could actually cut our nation’s carbon emissions by more than half if we went nuke and hydroelectric everywhere. Then, once we get better batteries, we could eliminate nearly all emissions by charging our cars from nuclear power.

Yet somehow, no matter how much they claim to care about climate change, most Messianic Environmentalists don’t want to go that road.

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