Comparing Kyoto & Iraq - Sunstein Comments

In response to my post below on his op-ed comapring the costs of the Kyoto Protocol with that of the war in Iraq, Cass Sunstein e-mails:

Despite the Post's misleading subtitle ["If We Can Fund the War in Iraq, Why Can't We Fund the Kyoto Protocol?"], and probably some unclear writing on my part, I meant only to make a cost comparison, and not to endorse the Kyoto Protocol, which is (in my view) unjustified in light of the cost-benefit ratio. It's clear that the original cost projection for the war ($50 billion) was much too optimistic, and it's not at all clear that the Bush Administration gave an adequate explanation for rejecting Kyoto — but everything turns on the cost-benefit comparison. My purpose was just to compare costs, which seems to me worthwhile even if only a part of the picture.

This is an entirely fair point. Prof. Sunstein has posted some additional thoughts on the University of Chicago faculty blog as well.

UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge adds his thoughts on the subject here.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Comparing Kyoto & Iraq - Sunstein Comments
  2. Is Kyoto Cheaper than Iraq?
Don Hamrick (mail) (www):
Mr. Volokh,


The Value of Law Blogs
Merrill Lynch v. ENC Corp., 04-16401 (9th Cir., May 9, 2006)

Last week, [Robert Loblaw] reported on this civil procedure decision from the Ninth Circuit. Over the weekend, the eagle-eyed Eugene Volokh noted that the decision misattributed language from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, the panel issued an amended opinion, promptly fixing this error. This is the second time in a month that the Ninth Circuit has amended an opinion based, presumably, on commentary from the Volokh Conspiracy blog. I discussed the earlier amendment here.

Now, if only the U.S. Supreme Court would correct itself on Second Amendment cases resulting from "Second Amendment Law blogs"
5.10.2006 2:29pm
I don't get it. If everything turns on the cost-benefit analyses, then what's the purpose of comparing the costs if you don't say anything about the benefits (in either case)? Prof. Sunstein says he thinks it is worthwhile to compare costs without discussing benefits, but I don't see why.
5.10.2006 2:47pm
byrd (mail):
What sort of adequate explanation from Bush is Sunstein looking for? I would think a 98-0 senate rejection would be explanation enough.

As for his larger point, it may be interesting to do the financial comparison, but I can't imagine what practical purpose it would serve given the apples and subatomic particle accelerator nature of the comparison.
5.10.2006 3:44pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
it's not at all clear that the Bush Administration gave an adequate explanation for rejecting Kyoto

Bush has not given an adequate explanation for invading Iraq, either!
5.10.2006 3:46pm
miggle's ghost:
What advantages would there be to the United States in participating in Kyoto in the first place? The idealism may be laudable, but absent monitoring/enforcement methods better than IAEA in Iran and full participation by India, China, Mexico, and others...would you not consider it to be somewhat useless?
5.10.2006 4:05pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
I'm still waiting for the "adequate explanation" of the Clinton Administration's rejection of Kyoto. Or the Senate that voted 93-0 against ratification back when Clinton was President.

Actually, I have a perfectly adequate explantion: Kyoto looked nice, but was non-effective.

But the rejection happened before Bush's watch. He only provided continuity....
5.10.2006 4:09pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
"it's not at all clear that the Bush Administration gave an adequate explanation for rejecting Kyoto"

The Bush Administration doesn't have to give any explanation for rejecting Kyoto; the Senate pre-rejected it before Clinton even had a chance to present it to them.

And yes, that included the Democrats.

With such a glaring mistake (if it is one), why should I even bother reading this piece - or believe anything else it says?
5.10.2006 8:19pm
william paul (mail):
" not at all clear that the Bush Administration gave an adequate explanation for rejecting Kyoto "

Wait a minute, I thought the last Senate vote on Kyoto was 80-20 against. When did the Senate ever ratify Kyoto for GWBush to veto it?
5.10.2006 8:20pm
Tom Tildrum:
If Sunstein were truly interested in a fair comparison, he would acknowledge that the projected costs of Kyoto are just as likely to skyrocket as did the costs of the war.
5.11.2006 12:51am
Raw_Data (mail):
Does anyone else wonder why you linked to Bainbridge? Yes he's a Professor and I suppose you folks stick together. But that's all the more reason his comment -- so far off-base -- should be a bit embarrassing to him and his faculty colleagues.

He seems to have completely missed (misread? not read? not understood?) Sunstein's point and offers no useful comment of his own. He says:

"But what Sunstein is proposing is even worse: He apparently wants us to view the money spent on Iraq as a windfall to be spent a second time on Kyoto."

I am mystified. I can't see how anyone who has actually read the Sunstein op-ed could suggest such a thing.
5.11.2006 10:27am
submandave (mail) (www):
I just wonder, if we can fund the war in Iraq why can't we fund a giant 600' high robot to protect us from Godzilla? Oh, maybe because funding the robot is just a stupid idea.
5.11.2006 1:04pm
This "95-0" vote which is being used to show opposition to action against global warming in the Senate is so 9 years ago, and merely was a comment on the direction of the Kyoto proceedings which were happening at the same time.

Last year, the Senate voted 53-44 in favor of a nonbinding sense-of-the-Senate amendment calling for mandatory action to "slow, stop and reverse the growth" of greenhouse-gas emissions.

In other words, it's only a matter of time before something Kyoto-esque will get passed.
5.11.2006 9:33pm
Randy R. (mail):
You all have danced around the point. Kyoto was rejected by people because they said the cost would be too high, and the results not sufficient. Well, the costs of Iraq have been high, and the results are still not sufficient.

All this is hindsight, of course, but frankly I would have preferred an attempt to slow global warming than this stupid war.
5.12.2006 2:27am