Archive | Climate Change

Against Climate McCarthyism

Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus have had enough of efforts to stifle debate over climate change policy, particularly by those who solicit quotes to “trash” those who don’t toe the party line.  Roger Pielke, Jr. would add those who selectively edit their comment threads.

UPDATE: The primary point of the post is to highlight Shellenberger & Nordhaus’ commentary on “the state of the liberal debate about climate change”: “Those who question apocalyptic predictions are treated as global warming deniers or traitors or worse. Those who advocate solutions other than cap-and-trade have their characters assassinated.”  Exhibit A in their post is the treatment of those who believe climate change is a serious problem, as they do, yet nonetheless question the desirability of cap-and-trade, targets and timetables, etc.  The furor over SuperFreakonomics is a recent example.  Their post notes some others.

SECOND UPDATE: Those who think my post is a defense of climate change skepticism may wish to re-read my February 2008 post on  “Climate Change, Cumulative Evidence, and Ideology.” Like Shellenberger, Nordhaus, and Pielke, I believe climate change is a serious policy concern.

THIRD UPDATE: Brad DeLong responds in the comments below, as well as in this post.  My response can be found here. [...]

Continue Reading 80

Left/Right bloggers agree: Economy will be top issue in 2010. Disagree on WH war on Fox

This week’s National Journal poll of political bloggers asked “What will be the top two issues in the midterm elections?” Enormous majorities on both the Left and the Right picked “Economy/jobs” as the expected top issue. On the Left, “health care reform” came in second, far ahead of the third-place “deficit/big government.” The issues of Afghanistan and Cap & Trade were very far behind. The picks on the Right were similar, expect that “deficit/government” was the choice for 2d place, with health care in third.

I wrote: “All these will be big, but the ballooning deficit and the unemployment rate will probably be of interest to the largest number of voters. Afghanistan/cap-and-trade/health care will probably motivate lots of base activists from both sides.”

The second question was “On balance, does the White House’s decision to take on Fox News help or hurt President Obama?” Eighty-seven percent of the Left, but only 18% of the Right thought it helped. I was among them: “It turns out that all those folks with ‘dissent is patriotic’ bumper stickers who worried about the president trying to shut down criticism were just a little ahead of their time. Obama’s stature is diminished in the short run, but Fox’s reporting is so harmful to the WH (Van Jones, Anita Dunn, etc.) that they may have figured some short-term cost is worth it if they can convince the more pliant folks in the MSM not to follow up those stories.” [...]

Continue Reading 56

Debating Carbon Cap-and-Trade

I’ll be in Chicago tomorrow to debate the merits of a cap-and-trade carbon emissions control regime at the Northwestern University School of Law.  It’s a noontime event sponsored by the student Federalist Society chapter.  For a preview see some of my prior VC posts (1, 2) and articles from NRO (1, 2).  I may also discuss some of my recent work on prizes.  (I should have a paper on the subject up on SSRN later this year.) [...]

Continue Reading 8

Bloggers agree: Congress ethics weak; public option likely. Disagree on nukes in cap/trade, and on 2d stimulus

Last week’s National Journal poll of political bloggers asked Left/Right bloggers “Are [Democratic/Republican] leaders doing enough to police congressional ethics enforcement in their ranks?”  On the Left, 56% said the Democrats were not doing enough, and 60% of the Right said Republicans were not doing enough. I was among the “no” votes for Republicans, writing that “They have fewer opportunities for corruption now that they’re the minority, but I don’t see any evidence of a fundamental change in self-policing.”

Question 2 asked “Could you see yourself supporting a cap-and-trade bill if it included significant incentives for nuclear energy?” On the Left, 61% said yes. On the Right, I was the only one who said yes. I reasoned, “The last 10 years of real-world climate data have shown that the professional hysterics and their predictions are wrong. However, the last 10 years have also demonstrated the growing dangers of U.S. energy dependence on dictatorships like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. So it’s possible (but unlikely) that a C&T bill with a strong nuclear energy component might significantly reduce U.S. dependence on dictators’ oil, and therefore be worth supporting for national security reasons.” I do realize the nukes in themselves are not the answer to foreign oil dependence, since only a small percentage of our electricity comes from imported oil. But it’s still possible (albeit very unlikely) that a C&T bill could do a great deal to reduce American dependence on dictator oil.

The October 9 poll (which I didn’t post about at the time) asked, “If major health care legislation clears Congress this year, will it include a public option?” Seventy-two percent of the Left and 57% of the right said it would. I was in the majority: “”If one presumes that the bill will pass, near-unanimous support will be needed from [...]

Continue Reading 17

The Climate Policy Climate Warms Up

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a new rule requiring large emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) to monitor and report their annual GHG emissions. Yesterday, the EPA released a proposed rule to regulate GHG emissions from major sources of GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act. If finalized, this would be the first fedral regulation limiting GHG emissions from stationary sources.  (More from the WashPost and NYT.)

The threat of federal regulation of GHGs under the Clean Air Act (CAA) is supposed to be a major inducement for industry to support cap-and-trade regulation. The CAA was not drafted with GHG controls in mind, and is not well suited to cost-effective GHG control.  Some business types want climate change legislation to replace CAA rules with a more efficient and workable regulatory regime. For this reason, quite a few companies have supported climate change legislation. (Still others see such a bill as an effective means to gain competitive advantage within their industry.) Interestingly enough, the draft legislation circulated in the Senate this week does not preclude EPA regulation of regulation of GHGs under the CAA. In other words, industry could face both a cap-and-trade regime and CAA regulation (the latter of which could severely compromise any efficiency benefits provided by the former).

An interesting aspect of the EPA’s proposed rule to limit stationary source emissions is the agency’s creative effort to limit the regulation’s applicability in the face of fairly explicit statutory text.  The relevant provisions of the Clean Air Act define major stationary sources as those that emit (or have the potential to emit) 100 or 250 tons per year of regulated pollutants (depending on the type of facility).  Yet the EPA’s rule would only apply to facilities that emit 100 times this  amount [...]

Continue Reading 33