Bjørn Lomborg in the WSJ urges climate adaptation and geo-engineering over punitive carbon taxes. He concludes:
Climate engineering raises ethical concerns. But if we care most about avoiding warmer temperatures, we cannot avoid considering a simple, cost-effective approach that shows so much promise.
Nothing short of a technological revolution is required to end our reliance on fossil fuel — and we are not even close to getting this revolution started. Economists Chris Green and Isabel Galiana from McGill University point out that nonfossil sources like nuclear, wind, solar and geothermal energy will — based on today’s availability — get us less than halfway toward a path of stable carbon emissions by 2050, and only a tiny fraction of the way towards stabilization by 2100.
A high carbon tax will simply hurt growth if alternative technology is not ready, making us all worse off. Mr. Green proposes that policy makers abandon carbon-reduction negotiations and make agreements to seriously invest in research and development. Mr. Green’s research suggests that investing about $100 billion annually in noncarbon based energy research could result in essentially stopping global warming within a century or so.
A technology-led effort would have a much greater chance of actually tackling climate change. It would also have a much greater chance of political success, since countries that fear signing on to costly emission targets are more likely to embrace the cheaper, smarter path of innovation.
Cutting emissions of greenhouse gases is not the only answer to global warming. Next week, a group of Nobel Laureate economists will gather at Georgetown University to consider all of the new research and identify the solutions that are most effective. Hopefully, their results will influence debate and help shift decision makers away from a narrow focus on one, deeply flawed response to global warming.
Our generation will not be judged on the brilliance of our rhetoric about global warming, or on the depth of our concern. We will be judged on whether or not we stop the suffering that global warming will cause. Politicians need to stop promising the moon, and start looking at the most effective ways to help planet Earth.