by Judith Curry
Excerpts from the article:
Regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is a mistake. This decades-old statute was designed to address a quite different set of problems and is not well-suited to greenhouse gas emission control, let alone regulating the planetary thermostat.
Stripping the EPA of authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is a good idea, but it is not, by itself, a climate change policy. More is necessary, but Congressional Republicans do not seem likely to even attempt the next step. As is so often the case in environmental policy, Republicans have a good idea of what to oppose, but no clue about what to support. The result is a half-baked approach to environmental issues, and measures that, in some cases, are worse than doing nothing at all.
So what should Republicans be doing on climate change? For years I have been arguing for a combination of policies that would include a) a revenue-neutral carbon tax, like that proposed by James Hansen, offsetting new taxes on carbon with reductions in income or other taxes; b) measures to incentivize and accelerate energy and climate-related innovation, including technology inducement prizes; c) streamlining of regulatory requirements that hamper the development and deployment of alternative energy technologies, including (but not limited to) offshore wind development; d) policies tofacilitate adaptation due to the inevitability of some amount of climate change, and e) elimination of policies that subsidize energy inefficiency and excess greenhouse gas emissions, including ill-conceived ethanol mandates (which, among other things, forestall efforts at reforestation). Would this be enough? Maybe not, but it would be a start — and it would be far better than simply stripping EPA of regulatory authority and then hoping the risk of climate change would just go away.
An interesting (and IMO sensible) list of recommendations. Reactions from the libertarian denizens? Adler’s perspective is not the typical libertarian one. For some further background on Alder’s perspective on climate change, see this post:
While I reject most apocalyptic scenarios as unfounded or unduly speculative, I am convinced that the human contribution to climate change will cause or exacerbate significant problems in at least some parts of the world.
So-called climate “skeptics” make many valid points about the weakness or unreliability of many individual arguments and studies on climate. They also point out how policy advocates routinely exaggerate the implications of various studies or the likely consequences of even the most robust climate predictions. Economists and others have also done important work questioning whether climate risks justify extreme mitigation measures. But none of this changes the fact that the cumulative evidence for a human contribution to present and future climate changes, when taken as a whole, is quite strong. In this regard, I think it is worth quoting something Ilya wrote below about the nature of evidence in his post about 12 Angry Men”:
People often dismiss individual arguments and evidence against their preferred position without considering the cumulative weight of the other side’s points. It’s a very easy fallacy to fall into. But the beginning of wisdom is to at least be aware of the problem.
The “divide and conquer” strategy of dissecting each piece of evidence independently can make for effective advocacy, but it is not a good way to find the truth.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that there is room to question the global warming “consensus,” particularly as represented by activist groups and some in the media, and to challenge various climate scenarios and their policy implications. I am unpersuaded that climate change threatens civilization or justifies truly draconian measures. Nevertheless, I believe climate change is a serious concern. And as much as I wish it were not the case, I believe the threat of climate change justifies some measures that the libertarian in me does not much like. But that’s the way it is.
On another post, he states:
I believe that certain policy responses are justified because even if one accepts a fairly “skeptical” view of the science, the best estimate is that human activity will produce some warming that will have deleterious effects in some parts of the globe, particularly in areas that have not done much to contribute to the warming. As I explain in this paper (and in shorter pieces here, here, and here), these effects should be sufficient to justify a policy response, particularly if one believes in the importance of property rights, as I do. I also believe that taxes on consumption, including energy consumption, are preferable to taxes on income, and so would welcome a revenue-neutral carbon tax.
And yet another statement:
I share Hendricks’ and Farber’s frustration that more conservatives don’t take climate change or other environmental concerns seriously. But I also believe some of this is the environmentalist movement’s own doing. If everything calls for the same big government solution, why does it matter what the problem is? If progressives really believe climate change is an impending catastrophe — not just a problem worth addressing but a potential apocalypse — and seek to enlist conservatives to their cause, they should pursue consensus efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including efforts to stimulate technological innovation or proposals for revenue-neutral carbon taxes (see, e.g., here, here and here). Yet Hendricks’colleagues at CAP excoriate any and all who deviate from the progressive climate orthodoxy or espouse anything short of dramatic government intervention throughout the economy. Environmentalists will be more successful enlisting conservatives (and many moderates) to their cause once they become more focused on solutions, and less insistent on government control.
Adler’s arguments regarding property rights and climate change are fleshed out more completely in this paper:
Taking Property Rights Seriously: The Case of Climate Change
Abstract. The dominant approach to environmental policy endorsed by conservative and libertarian policy thinkers, so-called “free market environmentalism” (FME), is grounded in the recognition and protection of property rights in environmental resources. Despite this normative commitment to property rights, most self-described advocates of FME adopt a utliitarian, welfare-maximization, approach to climate change policy, arguing that the costs of mitigation measures could outweigh the costs of climate change itself. Yet even if anthropogenic climate change is decidedly less than catastrophic – indeed, even if it is net beneficial to the globe as a whole – human-induced c limate change is likely to contribute to environmental changes that violate traditional conceptions of property rights. Viewed globally, the actions of some countries – primarily developed nations (such as the U.S.) and those nations that are industrializing most rapidly (such as China and India) – are likely to increase environmental harms suffered by less developed nations – nations that have not as of yet made any significant contribution to global climate change. It may well be that aggregate human welfare would be maximized in a warmer, wealtheir world, or that the gains from climate change will offset environmental losses. Such claims, even if demonstrated, would not addess the normative concern that the consequences of anthropogenic global warming would infringe upon the rights of people in less-developed nations. A true FME approach to climate change policy should be grounded in a normative commitment to property rights. As a consequence, this paper suggests a complete rethinking of the conventional conservative and libertarian approach to climate change.
Well, Adler’s writings put to rest the libertarians as stereotypically ”deniers.” I am most interested in the reactions from the libertarian denizens.