Why Libertarians should support a carbon tax

by Ed Dolan

. . . even if they can’t love it.

In the first two parts of this series, I discussed the reasons why both conservatives and progressives should love a carbon tax, and why many of each political persuasion do. In this third installment, I take up the more difficult case of libertarians.

There is no way that a good libertarian could love a carbon tax, or any tax, for that matter. Classical liberal principles hold that the state should play a role in economic affairs only when there are problems the cannot feasibly be handled in the private sector. Even those who support a role for the state in, say, criminal justice or national defense, do so only reluctantly. They secretly pine for a libertarian utopia like that in Robert Henlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where even those functions were the responsibility of the marketplace.

Nonetheless, I think it is possible to make as good a case that libertarians should support a carbon tax as that they should endorse a government role in courts or the military. Here are some reasons why.

The polluter should pay

To begin, the principle that the polluter should pay has long been a part of libertarian theory. In his 1962 classic, Man, Economy, and State, Murray Rothbard expressed it this way:

In so far as the outpouring of smoke by factories pollutes the air and damages the persons and property of others, it is an invasive act. . . . Air pollution is not an example of a defect in a system of absolute property rights, but of failure on the part of the government to preserve property rights.

A person whose pollution harms another’s person or property should pay for the resulting harm. People do not pollute just for the fun of it. They do so because polluting, when unrestricted, is a cheap way of disposing of wastes. Paying for waste disposal is just as much a proper cost of business or household management as paying for any thing else—energy, labor, transportation, or whatever.

A polluter cannot escape the duty to pay for harm to others simply because it would be expensive to avoid polluting. Yes, it may cost more to build a smokestack with a filter than one without, or more to treat sewage than to dump it directly into a river. Beyond some point, the harm, at the margin, may be less than the cost of abatement, in which case releasing pollutants into the environment may be the economically efficient decision. Efficient or not, however, the polluter should still pay for any remaining harm done even after the efficient degree of abatement has been carried out.

All this leaves open the question of how to ensure that the polluter pays. First, though, we need to address another important issue.

Are greenhouse gas emissions really harmful?

Specifically, we need to ask whether carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses (GHGs) are, in fact, harmful pollutants. If they are not, libertarians are off the hook: No harm done, no payment due, no need for a tax. However, if you are tempted to seek that escape route, you need to ask yourself, which comes first? Are you evaluating the relevant science objectively, or is your judgment of the scientific evidence influenced by an a priori aversion to taxes or other government interventions?

The libertarian icon Friedrich Hayek saw attitudes toward science as one of the key distinctions between libertarians (he preferred the term “liberal,” in the European sense) and conservatives. In his famous essay, “Why I Am Not a Conservative,” he wrote:

Personally, I find that the most objectionable feature of the conservative attitude is its propensity to reject well-substantiated new knowledge because it dislikes some of the consequences which seem to follow from it—or to put it bluntly, its obscurantism. I will not deny that scientists as much as others are given to fads and fashions and that we have much reason to be cautious in accepting the conclusions that they draw from their latest theories. But the reasons for our reluctance must themselves be rational  and must be kept separate from our regret that the new theories upset our cherished beliefs. . .  By refusing to face the facts, the conservative only weakens his own position.  . .  Should our moral beliefs really prove to be dependent on factual assumptions shown to be incorrect, it would hardly be moral to defend them by refusing to acknowledge facts.

He was not writing specifically about climate change (the example he gave was the theory of evolution), but his point applies. We should separate our rational evaluation of climate science from our regret that human responsibility for climate change might upset our cherished beliefs about the ability of a market economy to operate justly and efficiently without the intervention of government.

Mere uncertainty is not enough. Some aspects of climate science are almost universally accepted,  for example, that concentrations of GHG in the atmosphere influence the climate and that human activity has affected concentrations of GHG. Other points are not fully settled, for example, the sensitivity of global temperatures to a doubling of CO2, the interaction of natural and anthropogenic climate drivers, and the relationship between climate change and specific weather events. However, complete certainty is not required in this case.

There are many areas of both private life and public policy where we act to avoid harm that is not certain to occur, or, if it does occur, is not easily quantified. We accept limits on driving while intoxicated even though there is a good chance that any individual drunk driver will make it home from the tavern without hitting anyone. We allow victims of assaults or negligent acts to sue for pain and suffering even though placing a monetary value on the pain is highly inexact. By the same token, we should be willing to accept restraints of GHG emissions if we think the preponderance of evidence suggests that they are harmful, and to place an estimated value on the harm even if we know it may only be an approximation.

If you have looked dispassionately at the relevant science, and you are satisfied, based on the preponderance of evidence, that GHG emissions pose no risk, so be it. Otherwise, read on.

How should polluters be made to pay?

If we accept the principle that polluters should pay, and accept that GHG emissions are a form of harmful pollution, we still have to deal with the issues of how polluters should be made to pay.

For many libertarians, the preferred approach is to rely on private negotiations backed by the right to take legal action for the pollution-related torts of trespass, nuisance, or negligence. If toxic fumes from a neighboring factory damage your health or your property, sue the owners for damages or ask for an injunction requiring them to stop. A 1982 paper by Rothbard, “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution” describes this approach in detail.

Unfortunately, the tort law approach to making the polluter pay works less well as the number of pollution sources and victims grows. Yes, you, or you together with a group of close neighbors, can very likely get somewhere with a lawsuit against pollution from a factory next door, easily traced to its source. However, when there are many sources, some of which are far from the many victims, it is difficult to show that pollution from any one source caused the harm to any one individual, even if the harm is collectively large. That is often the case with air pollution, not only climate change, but also urban smog or acid rain.

When a large number of sources and remote victims make the tort law approach unworkable, we have to choose a second-best approach. Our options include regulations that require specific technologies or impose source-by-source emission standards, placing a price on pollution by means of a tax or cap-and-trade mechanism, or doing nothing.

Command-and-control regulations, which are both intrusive and inefficient, are the least attractive alternative to libertarians. Doing nothing would be the preferred alternative in cases where the harm was trivial. When the harm is not trivial, a policy that puts a price on pollution should be the preferred approach.

This is not the place to get into a long discussion of the relative merits of pollution taxes vs. cap-and-trade. Briefly, it seems to me that on libertarian grounds, pollution taxes are less objectionable than cap-and-trade for three reasons. First, they are arguably the more economically efficient alternative. Second, they are less complex and less open to political favoritism and corruption. Third, revenue from pollution taxes can be used to reduce marginal rates on other taxes that produce well-known distortions of market incentives, such as payroll taxes or corporate profits taxes.

The bottom line

The issue of climate change is a source of cognitive dissonance for libertarians. It creates a tension between the principle that pollution is an unjust assault on the persons and property of others, and the principle that disputes are best resolved through private negotiations and civil law. Some libertarians, like many conservatives, manage to suppress the dissonance by convincing themselves that greenhouse gas emissions are harmless. If they are uable to do that, it is reasonable for them to support the least intrusive, least inefficient government intervention available to deal with the problem. In my view, that alternative is a carbon tax. Even if it is a tax that libertarians cannot love, it is one they should support.

This is the conclusion of a three-part series. The first two parts were Why Conservatives Should Love a Carbon Tax—and Why Some of Them Do and Why Progressives Should Love a Carbon Tax—Although Not All of them Do. For more on the topic of this post, see my book TANSTAAFL: A Libertarian Perspective on Environmental Policy.

– See more at: http://www.economonitor.com/dolanecon/2013/07/15/why-libertarians-should-support-a-carbon-tax-even-if-they-cant-love-it/#sthash.0ESvzUaq.dpuf

JC comment:  this is a guest post by Ed Dolan.  Please keep your comments relevant and civil.

266 responses to “Why Libertarians should support a carbon tax

  1. Progressives of all stripes love to quote Hayek, but generally only on his criticism of “conservatives,” as he defined them.

    Yawn.

    Once again, Hayek was great at mounting a philosophical defense of the free market and democratic principles in general. But on economics, he left a lot to be desired. And when describing those with whom he disagreed on social matters (like any liberaltarian), he tended to rely on caricature, rather than reality. Just like the progressives who share the “libertarian” view of social policy.

    • No rational person, who has though through the issues, should support a carbon tax, or an ETS.

      1. They cannot succeed – for the reasons explained here:
      No gain and lots of pain with the ETS
      http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2013/07/no-gain-and-lots-of-pain-with-the-ets

      2. They will seriously disadvantage economies that try to implement them – as explained here:
      What the Carbon Tax and ETS will Really Cost
      http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/

      3. They will achieve no measurable benefits for the climate, sea levels or critters

      4. There is a better way that will work to cut global GHG emissions. It is the economically rational way. Only an economically rational policies will succeed and be sustainable, because they do not require direction by government, politicians, bureaucrats, NGO’s special interest groups. This explains the better way:

      Decarbonising the global economy requires and economically rational approach:
      https://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313509

      Alternative to carbon pricing – Reduce existing market distortions
      https://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313514

      The links provide the essential background to understanding why I am saying carbon pricing cannot succeed.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Hayek’s economics are practiced every day in modern economies. Any nation that does not have a system of effective and independent interest rate management linked to a target inflation range is at a severe disadvantage.

      The discussion in ‘Why I am not a Conservative’ – where Hayek took the appellation of Whig rather than the devalued term liberal – is more in the nature of the fundamental commitment of the Whig to freedom, democracy and the rule of law above and beyond the ideological intransigence of either the left or the right.

      ‘But, though I may dislike some of the measures concerned as much as they (conservatives) do and might vote against them, I know of no general principles to which I could appeal to persuade those of a different view that those measures are not permissible in the general kind of society which we both desire. To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one’s concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends.’

      For the Whig the imposition of a carbon tax is a democratic choice rather than a moral or intellectual imperative. A tax may be imposed provided one can gather enough support from your fellow citizens. It is perhaps best for the sake of the economy that the total tax take by limited to some 20% to 25% of gross domestic product. It should be understood as well that a carbon tax is not a Pigovian tax predicated on matching the marginal cost of externalities. It is a new type of tax intended to cause more or less substitution of one product for another.

      A carbon tax set at a level of less than the economic cost of substitution – which is quite high at this time – and where tax is reduced elsewhere or compensation is paid – will have a marginal or even positive impact on economies. For instance – if payroll tax is replaced by a carbon tax then the impacts could well be positive. There is the problem of ‘carbon leakage’ where industries relocate to untaxed jurisdictions. This is never likely to be a global movement and after 30 you might imagine that the penny would have dropped.

      ‘The old climate framework failed because it would have imposed substantial costs associated with climate mitigation policies on developed nations today in exchange for climate benefits far off in the future — benefits whose attributes, magnitude, timing, and distribution are not knowable with certainty. Since they risked slowing economic growth in many emerging economies, efforts to extend the Kyoto-style UNFCCC framework to developing nations predictably deadlocked as well.’ http://thebreakthrough.org/archive/climate_pragmatism_innovation

      With a tax set at or above the cost of substitution – all hell breaks loose. Costs rise across the economy, productivity collapses, revenue dries up and taxes increase, expenditure declines or debt accumulates. No credible politician is up for this so taxes will be about a fin and the effect on emissions marginal.

      Climate science is a source of cognitive dissonance for progressive. More than that it seems a millennialist movement complete with a magical solution in the form of carbon taxes.

      Climate science is very different to the simplistic memes of the millennialists. Indeed it seems very different to what most climate scientists seem to espouse – although this could just be spin for advocacy pruposes.

      I sometimes quote Wally Broecker – the so called father of climate science – on abrupt change being the mode of climate change over many timescales. I quote Anastasios Tsonis because his works demonstrates decadal climate shifts.

      Anastasios Tsonis, of the Atmospheric Sciences Group at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and colleagues used a mathematical network approach to analyse abrupt climate change on decadal timescales. Ocean and atmospheric indices – in this case the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the North Pacific Oscillation – can be thought of as chaotic oscillators that capture the major modes of climate variability. Tsonis and colleagues calculated the ‘distance’ between the indices. It was found that they would synchronise at certain times and then shift into a new state.

      It is no coincidence that shifts in ocean and atmospheric indices occur at the same time as changes in the trajectory of global surface temperature. Our ‘interest is to understand – first the natural variability of climate – and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,’ Tsonis said.

      Four multi-decadal climate shifts were identified in the last century coinciding with changes in the surface temperature trajectory. Warming from 1909 to the mid 1940’s, cooling to the late 1970’s, warming to 1998 and declining since. The shifts are punctuated by extreme El Niño Southern Oscillation events. Fluctuations between La Niña and El Niño peak at these times and climate then settles into a damped oscillation. Until the next critical climate threshold – due perhaps in a decade or two if the recent past is any indication. Until then warming seems likely to be minimal at best. Beyond that is not merely uncertain but absolutely imponderable.

      It is not a matter of if but when the next climate shift occurs. Relatively soon in the scheme of things. Carbon dioxide emissions add a wild card to the mix. Wally Broecker calls it poking a stick at an angry beast. A bit colourfull but captures succinctly the behavior of the system. Natural variability and extremes of weather in the Holocene exceed anything we have seen in recent times. A Whig would prefer to address all of these imponderables in an integrated and effective way.

      From the Hartwell 2010 Paper.
      ‘Therefore, in our view, the organising principle of our effort should be the raising up of human dignity and in that pursuit, our re-framed primary goals should be three:

      1) to ensure that the basic needs, especially the energy demands, of the world’s growing population are adequately met. ‘Adequacy’ means energy that is simultaneously accessible, secure and low-cost.

      2) to ensure that we develop in a manner that does not undermine the essential functioning of the Earth system, in recent years most commonly reflected in concerns about accumulating carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, but certainly not limited to that factor alone;

      3) to ensure that our societies are adequately equipped to withstand the risks and dangers that come from all the vagaries of climate, whatever may be their cause.

      What people want is economic development. In the developing world a great part of that is conservation farming – indeed in the west as well. It is a world wide movement to conserve and protect agricultural soils. Ironically – it sequesters significant amounts of carbon in soils. It is perhaps better seen as polycentric – informed co-operation of business, government and communities. It is the model of the management of commons developed by the late Elinor Ostrom over many years – and for which she won the Nobel Prize in economics.

      This story was brought to my attention recently – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/10176217/The-underground-forests-that-are-bringing-deserts-to-life.html This is business as usual according to the UN – and so doesn’t attract carbon payments. The good news is that it is hugely effective in sequestering carbon while increasing agricultural productivity.

      ‘This was only one of the success stories that emerged at a conference in Switzerland this week on land restoration. Counter-intuitive techniques developed by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean farmer and biologist, are successfully revitalising 15 million hectares of degraded land on five continents, by grazing livestock very intensively on small areas for short periods: their dung and the grass they trample enrich the soil, mimicking the natural practices of the once-vast herds of gnu or American bison.’
      As part of a package that is reasonably approximated by the Millennium Development Goals – it provides the basis for economic development. The rest of the package involves models of democracy, the rule of law, free markets, transparent and efficient governance, effective delivery of health services and education and provision of safe water and sanitation. This ultimately stabilizes population earlier than otherwise – but is a humanitarian objective in its own right.’

      In the short term there are opportunities to manage black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, sulphides and nitrous oxide as well as to conserve and restore ecosystems. Longer term the need is for energy innovation – incrementally for many technologies – to provide a basis of cheap, available and abundant energy – much cheaper than energy today which is historically very expensive.

      The real objections to carbon taxes is the humungous cost to benefit ratio and the lack of a vision for human development and ecological conservation this century. This seems adequate reason for any sane and non millennialist person to reject it.

  2. Are you evaluating the relevant science objectively, or is your judgment of the scientific evidence influenced by an a priori aversion to taxes or other government interventions?

    This presupposes that the relevant science is beyond reproach. It’s not.

    • If the relevant science were beyond reproach, it would speak with one voice. It does not. It is a cacophony that we nonscientists have to sort through and make sense of as best we can. If we don’t check our ideological preconceptions at the door, then we are not even trying.

      • Ed, if it was not your intention to convey the impression that those who don’t agree that CO2 is a harmful pollutant must be influenced by their aversion to tax, perhaps you want to consider rewording that passage.

      • spartacusisfree

        As a non-scientist you are not to know that the atmospheric temperature control system uses CO2 to keep surface temperature constant. There is no CO2-AGW.

        What’s more, increased CO2 leads to greening of deserts and anyway, there is no proven evidence that CO2 increase is of human origin anyway, being as it is explicable by sea temperature.

        All in all a carbon tax is utterly stupid, as is anyone who proposes it without being able to prove scientifically why o
        it is needed.

      • Ed Dolan

        You have just presented the best argument against the imposition of a tax on CO2.

        Max

      • Your quote:

        “However, complete certainty is not required in this case.”

        A bald statement of an ideological preconception carried right through the doorway

        You weren’t trying, were you ?

    • “you need to ask yourself, which comes first?”

      Yes, Mr Dolan. Which comes first? Your love of taxes or your fear of global warming?
      Many assert that the global warming scare mongering is driven by ideological influences and the lust for power of the liberals (lefties).

      • * You could also argue that cheap energy supports life Say, fer
        40,000 years there was little change in humanity’s precarious
        existence on the edge. Then came the game changer. In the
        the West when technologies made possible by cheap fossil
        fuels increased food production and improved standards of
        living. Both have continued ter grow, even, contra Malthus,
        Erlich, et AL, outpacing population growth.

        * You could also argue that CO2, a plant food supporting
        life may be in short supply, as EM Smith argues, given that
        a fast forest like Poplars and Eucalypts in a short time can
        completely deplete about twice as much volume of air as sits
        above that forest, (all the way to space,) see url,while a fertile
        pond, growing pond scum, scrubs the air of CO2 even faster.
        .
        http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/of-trees-volcanos-and-pond-scum/

        Meself as a kinda’ libertarian serf, yer can understand me
        sentiments, am not in favour of taxes on energy unless
        there’s strong evidence that it’s needed and the serfs will
        benefit from same.

        Yrs respeckfully
        Beth-the-serf

  3. Ed Dolan

    This is another excellent posting in an outstanding series. Thank you for the clarity of exposition and refreshing outlook.

    However, “Are greenhouse gas emissions really harmful?” is not a libertarian question, in the m_i_narchist sense.

    If we are to determine costs by the standards of Heinlein’s novel, then that function ought be privatized, too. The Law of Supply and Demand determines price, not degree of harm to some vaguely-defined collective.

    So, “No harm done, no payment due..” is a false equivalency. We don’t ask how much harm is involved in cell phone bandwidth, or a bushel of apples, or “..any thing else—energy, labor, transportation, or whatever.”

    The right standard, when we acknowledge the private rights of owners, is the same standard as applies to all ownership rights: what the Market will bear before diminishing returns to shareholders.

    In this sense, the “carbon tax” solution is not a tax. It is not controlled by the government, except in the most rote, administrative sense in trust, just as the price of goods a factory produces are seldom directly controlled by its shareholders, but by marketing managers and merchandizers, retailers and wholesalers in the distribution channels, and the negotiations among them all.

    What the private holders of interest in air must realize is that up to now, our negotiators have been ripping us off in a cozy relationship with the buyers, giving them freebies at the owners’ expense and contrary to the owners’ best interests.

    The right questions to ask are:

    1. Is the ability of air to recycle CO2E emissions scarce?
    2. Is the service of the air to recycle CO2E emissions rivalrous?
    3. Is the service of the air to recycle CO2E emissions excludable?
    4. Is the service of the air to recycle CO2E emissions administratively feasible as privatization?

    The answer is “yes”, emphatically and patently, in all four questions, the same questions as one may ask of any privatized resource. Nowhere in these questions does proof of harm play the least role. That proof of harm applies only where one answers “no” to any of the four above questions, as an additive extra, as an actual tax question.

    It’s not time to tax CO2E, until after CO2E is fully privatized. That is the inevitable logic of a libertarian position. Fee and dividend first, privatization by using the same channels and means as the tax system uses, thereby making good use of what every libertarian agrees is an otherwise evil, necessary or no.

    Privatize this function of air, as bandwidth is privatized. Enforce standards of weights and measures on the carbon content of all things sold that will have a measure of weight on the carbon cycle in the air. Let the Market fix the price.

    After that, if there is still taste for it, add on any tax that must be applied. Of course, by that time, there ought be little need, any libertarian with faith in libertarian principles would know that Capitalism is the efficient allocator of scarce resources, and taxes always distort that efficiency.

    After CO2E privatization, in other words, a carbon tax that delivers revenue to government instead of to owners per capita might result in more harm to the environment, rather than less.

    But we can’t know that, because we can’t determine the effects of a tax without knowing the efficient price.. and the Market is the right vehicle to set the price.

    • I believe Manuel Garcia O’Kelly got a real chuckle out of the idea that air was free on Earth.

      This, like the two preceding contributions, is quite good. However, you use language quite likely to trigger knee-jerk responses. Labeling CO2 a pollutant is somewhat provocative. It should be enough to recognize the negative externalities associated with its emissions.

    • You ask:
      1. Is the ability of air to recycle CO2E emissions scarce?
      2. Is the service of the air to recycle CO2E emissions rivalrous?
      3. Is the service of the air to recycle CO2E emissions excludable?
      4. Is the service of the air to recycle CO2E emissions administratively feasible as privatization?

      All good questions. It does not follow that “harm” is irrelevant. Consider the last piece of cheesecake in my refrigerator. Answer to all four questions is “yes.” Yet, if you trespass on my property, open my fridge, and eat that piece of cheescake, you are doing me a harm. Harm and your questions are two different ways of speaking about the same thing.

      • Ed Dolan | July 15, 2013 at 11:18 am |

        Harm and your questions are two different ways of speaking about the same thing.

        This is how I know you to be a true libertarian in the classic sense, and myself to be a _min_archist.

        In _min_archy, exchanges between people don’t necessarily harm anyone. When a libertarian sees two people involved in trade, the libertarians knows himself to be harmed. ;)

        I dispense with harm as a term to consider not because there is no harm; there patently is. I dispense with harm as it is not a necessary condition to protect property rights, or to deem privatization of the carbon cycle the right thing to do.

        A little sparrow falls and suffers harm; it’s not for me to privatize gravity, that’s in other hands than mortal man’s, and always will be.

        If I trespass on your cheesecake, the proof of harm is in that cheesecake is rivalrous: no two people can consume the same morsel. Were there no rivalrous nature to cheesecake, there would be no harm.

        In a skeptical melieu, we cannot trust the good faith of others to interpret harm with goodwill, but must particularize the exact quality of the harm, or they will simply assert handwavingly the contrary, and neither we nor they will make progress in our understanding.

    • Steven Mosher

      Ed Dolan

      This is another excellent posting in an outstanding series. Thank you for the clarity of exposition and refreshing outlook.

      ###########

      ditto

  4. Ed Dolan writes “If we accept the principle that polluters should pay, and accept that GHG emissions are a form of harmful pollution, we still have to deal with the issues of how polluters should be made to pay.”

    And if we dont accept that “that GHG emissions are a form of harmful pollution”, then this whole article is a waste of time for us to read or discuss.

    • Jim Cripwell | July 15, 2013 at 10:31 am |

      So.. it’s good for 97% of libertarians?

      That’d be pretty good, then.

      • Bart– Congrats on your concise comment. Keep that up. I greatly doubt that 97% of libertarians believe CO2 should be classified as a pollutant ant any level.

      • Bart R

        Libertarian, shmibertarion.

        A tax on CO2 is silly, because CO2 is not a pollutant, harmful to humans, but a naturally occurring trace gas, essential for all plant life.

        Water vapor is an even stronger GHG than CO2, but also not harmful to humans and essential for all plant life. Should we have a “water vapor tax”?

        Of course not.

        Max

      • If it moves jest tax it, lol.
        Bts

    • Rob Starkey | July 15, 2013 at 11:20 am |

      A libertarian who isn’t somewhat a scientist is a very poor libertarian: if he isn’t at least a bit of a chemist or agronomist, he has to rely on others for his drugs. So by Law of Equipartition, 97%. ;)

      You do realize, you’re quibbling over a _joke_, right?

      manacker | July 15, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

      You can call my private ownership rights silly if you want, but I want my interest in CO2E recycling privatized. All the conditions for privatization of the carbon cycle are patently present. The Law of Supply and Demand will fix the price, and I will get paid for what is taken from me without my consent, as small redress for the wrong.

      After that greater issue — getting me my money — is dealt with, then we can discuss whether or not you ought be vested with the power to determine for everyone in the world what is and is not pollution to them, from a framework of rational fact unbiased by rampant theft and mismanagement of scarce resources by government and free riders.

  5. If you have looked dispassionately at the relevant science, and you are satisfied, based on the preponderance of evidence, that GHG emissions pose no risk, so be it. Otherwise, read on.

    I stopped reading. But I would change the statement: there is no reason to think GHG pose a risk.

    But curiously, I addressed the same problem and came to the same conclusion for different reasons. A liberal (european sense) should love a carbon tax as proposed by McCitrick. Based on facts (warming), revenue-neutral, and substituting “green-energy” subsidy. For obvious reasons: less total taxing.

    http://www.desdeelexilio.com/2013/07/05/un-impuesto-que-podria-amar-un-liberal-tasa-al-co2-basada-en-pruebas/

    And, this is all the point of GW scare, I think. If you cannot propose a solution to your imaginary problem without adding taxes, the easy answer is the purpose of the scare is taxing.

  6. Morley Sutter

    Paracelsus (born 1493 in Switzerland) said: “All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing a poison.” This statement is true and it also applies to “pollutants”.
    Oxygen, essential for life, as is CO2 which is essential for plants, causes blindness when given to premature infants in high concentration, Therefore to label CO2 a pollutant is wrong in spite of the rulings of the EPA.
    Anything CAN be taxed, including tea, but CO2 should not be taxed using the excuse that it is a pollutant.

    • Morley Sutter | July 15, 2013 at 10:47 am |

      Although “the dose makes the poison” remains a pillar of epidemiology of environmental toxins, there is another principle, that of equity.

      If you let one person pollute with one small dose, how then do you regulate the rest with their cumulatively poisonous additional contributions?

      I don’t disagree that CO2E doesn’t need the excuse that it’s a pollutant to privatize it and apply a fee to it by the Law of Supply and Demand, and return that full revenue to the owners of the air per capita, after we know the true price the Market determines for the carbon cycle, then this one aspect of the whole Market might take its place among every other retail good or service subject to general taxes, on general principles.. though to a libertarian, this principles will most sensibly be the less of the Evil of tax, the better, so long as greater Evil is not inflicted.

    • Herbis, verbis, et mineralis, and this mineralis, CO2 is in a homeopathic dose, except, apparently, to herbis.
      ================

      • kim | July 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm |

        So the dose is only ‘trace’ when it doesn’t favor your argument, but becomes significant when it does?

        My, my, what a friendly, convenient universe you live in, that it bends its knee to your philosophical outlook so.

  7. This argument for a carbon tax is predicated on AGW theory, and this is not settled science. Causes notwithstanding, egregious polluters should be heavily penalized (those intentionally and/or repeatedly dumping toxins into rivers, the air, etc., but a carbon tax is essentially a broad-based penalization with a likelihood of snaring even non-offenders.

    • Alan Sexton | July 15, 2013 at 10:58 am |

      The case for carbon cycle privatization is based on Capitalism. That’s pretty well-settled. See “Berlin Wall”.

      • Bart, in my previous comment I am referring to Ed Dolan’s proposal.
        I have no problems with voluntary participation in private endeavors, but taxes are not private.

    • Alan Sexton | July 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm |

      Yeah, well, we’re not in one of those happy circumstances where the other people who exist in the world are letting you opt out voluntarily from their private profit at your public cost. More to the point, they want your property and they aren’t going to stop just because you say no.

      The redress you’re allowed by the law, by pragmatism, is to extract payment from them for expropriating your air without your consent for their own lucrative private enterprises.

      Hence, what spinmeisters like to call a tax, and everyone else has thrown up their hands and couched in terms of tax, the privatization of the carbon cycle.

      What you can voluntarily participate in is the spending of the dividend you get handed back to you from this sorry situation. What would make it private would be were the amount of that dividend determined by the Law of Supply and Demand, by the price of the carbon cycle’s services being set in any quarter to maximize returns to you, as a per capita shareholder in air.

      • Bart, given the context of my original response to Ed Dolan’s proposals, and my follow up to your first comment; I can only surmise that you do not understand my position as I now have no idea what your position is, or what it is you are objecting to.

    • Alan Sexton | July 16, 2013 at 11:02 am |

      I’m objecting to Ed Dolan’s predication of his argument on harm due pollution.

      It is enough that there is trespass, but even this is too strict a predicate.

      It is enough that the natural economy determines it to be time to privatize the carbon cycle, so the Market can most efficiently allocate its resource.

      So even if you’re loopy enough to use such phraseology as “this is not settled science”, or “a carbon tax is essentially a broad-based penalization”, you can rest at ease. If limited to just privatization of the carbon cycle, if all revenues of a carbon fee system go directly to the pockets of its owner — all citizens, per capita and determined by the Law of Supply and Demand, then you don’t need to know from AGW. You won’t have to care at all about such things.

      • Bart – privatization implies the free market embarks on the tax of its own choosing. You continue to twist meaning and concepts to fit your lefy view of the world. ]

        So now instead of calling it a carbon tax you are calling it a carbon “fee.” What a huge tub of hogwash that is. It’s disgusting.

        If the government imposes a carbon tax, it is regulation. There is nothing private about it. You are as disingenuous a human being as I have ever run into.

      • Obviously, coherent communication isn’t your strong suit.
        In any event, AGW is a theory; it is not settled science, and yes; a carbon tax is indeed a broad-based penalty, as is the case with nearly all taxes.

    • Alan Sexton | July 16, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

      Obviously, coherent communication isn’t your strong suit.
      In any event, AGW is a theory; it is not settled science, and yes; a carbon tax is indeed a broad-based penalty, as is the case with nearly all taxes.

      You keep repeating the theory that taxes are penalties. That’s far from proven. Do you mean penalties are taxes? Tax experts and the people who write dictionaries disagree with you. Penalties may be revenues to the state, and you may be penalized when you’re caught cheating on your taxes, but that hardly makes them so nearly synonymous as you imply.

      How do you think your theory that taxes are penalties stands up against AGW, as theories go? Do you think 98% of tax professionals see taxes as penalties? Do you think the message from government “you’ve done something wrong by earning an income or participating in the sale of goods for consumption” is what people think when they pay their taxes, or do you think they begrudgingly admit they pay for the defense of the nation and the education of its posterity and the upkeep of common infrastructure, and just wish the taxes were more fairly distributed?

      AGW isn’t just _a_ theory. It’s the best theory. Simplest. Most parsimonious. Most universal. That makes it, in science, the settled accurate or very nearly true theory. Saying the science isn’t settled isn’t merely disingenuous, it’s so blatantly a deceptive practice that — and let me communicate this with perfect coherence — anyone saying it still is speaking from ignorance of the standards of science as set out three centuries ago by Isaac Newton in his Principia.

      Try to catch up. You’ve had three hundred years. How slow are you?.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Carbon taxes are obviously a penalty for CO2 emissions – an exceptional tax purportedly imposed to encourage product substitution.

        AGW is inconsistent with the new paradigm of Abrupt Climate Change. Let’s call it CCC for chaotic climate change.

        ‘Large, abrupt climate changes have repeatedly affected much or all of the earth, locally reaching as much as 10°C change in 10 years. Available evidence suggests that abrupt climate changes are not only possible but likely in the future, potentially with large impacts on ecosystems and societies.

        This report is an attempt to describe what is known about abrupt climate changes and their impacts, based on paleoclimate proxies, historical observations, and modeling. The report does not focus on large, abrupt causes—nuclear wars or giant meteorite impacts—but rather on the surprising new findings that abrupt climate change can occur when gradual causes push the earth system across a threshold. Just as the slowly increasing pressure of a finger eventually flips a switch and turns on a light, the slow effects of drifting continents or wobbling orbits or changing atmospheric composition may “switch” the climate to a new state. And, just as a moving hand is more likely than a stationary one to encounter and flip a switch, faster earth-system changes—whether natural or human-caused—are likely to increase the probability of encountering a threshold that triggers a still faster climate shift.

        We do not yet understand abrupt climate changes well enough to predict them. The models used to project future climate changes and their impacts are not especially good at simulating the size, speed, and extent of the past changes, casting uncertainties on assessments of potential future changes. Thus, it is likely that climate surprises await us…

        The new paradigm of an abruptly changing climatic system has been well established by research over the last decade, but this new thinking is little known and scarcely appreciated in the wider community of natural and social scientists and policy-makers.’

        http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10136&page=1

        Theories should be as simple as possible – but not simpler.

      • Outlaw…

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalytic_converter

        since 1975, it is clearer for all to see.

      • Verbosity doesn’t validate your opinions Bart. AGW is only a theory, and your hailing it as a “best theory” is a purely subjective feeling, not a scientific certainty. Additionally, taxes are a penalty – either for working, being successful, purchasing and/or owning goods/property, and fines are a penalty imposed for violations of ordinances, laws, etc.

  8. [… T]he most objectionable feature of the conservative attitude is its propensity to reject well-substantiated new knowledge because it dislikes some of the consequences which seem to follow from it—or to put it bluntly, its obscurantism.

    I’ve found similar attitudes among many libertarians when it comes to the nature of property as a natural part of human identity. Looking at the anthropological and primatological evidence, I’d say a good case could be made that it is, but hardly conclusive. And as for “intellectual property”, there’s no real case. Patents and copyrights are modern inventions specifically justified in their value to society (originally at the level of nation-states), with no real evidence that they’re an aspect of human “nature”.

    As for carbon taxes, I’d agree that the pure libertarian position would probably favor such taxes, although cap-and-trade is also theoretically a suitable market-driven approach. IIRC it was effective in the case of sulfur oxide pollution, where the carrying capacity of the environment was estimated through agreed-on principles.

    The problem I have with carbon taxes, as a libertarian, is that they are intended to raise the price of energy to the point where non-fossil-carbon alternatives are cost-effective. If this were a normal commodity, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but cheap energy is a driving force for the economic advances that make life more pleasant for most people. This is a large part of why energy has been subsidized in one way or another since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, along with the obvious military advantages, which have allowed nation-states with more libertarian cultures to defend their citizens against outside predators without applying extreme costs to their life-styles.

    The fact is that economic systems like ours are highly non-linear non-zero-sum systems, which means that where costs are applied in the system can have a tremendous influence on how the system evolves. Certainly the availability of cheap energy has substantially influenced how our technological cultures have evolved; those who disapprove can say “distorted”.

    However, libertarianism is not, at its base, about the free market. It’s about the freedom of the individual, which is also very much a non-zero-sum issue. Cheap energy and the long-range interdependence it has supported have provided hugely increased freedom for people to live at greater distances from where they work, shop, and entertain themselves. The market is just a tool, and the low price of energy has allowed that tool to provide much greater freedom for most people (whether or not they take advantage of it).

    Personally, I’d say the risk from digging up and burning fossil fuel justifies taking steps, as a global civilization, to transfer to forms of energy with a lower ecological “footprint”, including ending the dumping of dug-up carbon into the global ecosystem when we don’t even know where it’s ending up, much less what impact it’ll have on its way and when it gets there. But given the advantages of cheap energy, those steps should ideally be chosen to achieve this end without substantially raising the price of energy, even temporarily.

      • Thanks. I can never tell when I don’t get an answer whether nobody bothered to read, or nobody disagree.

    • AK,

      + 1000.

      I agree with all your comment, and reckon your last paragraph is worth repeating (because I have the solution your last sentence is seeking: ):

      Personally, I’d say the risk from digging up and burning fossil fuel justifies taking steps, as a global civilization, to transfer to forms of energy with a lower ecological “footprint”, including ending the dumping of dug-up carbon into the global ecosystem when we don’t even know where it’s ending up, much less what impact it’ll have on its way and when it gets there. But given the advantages of cheap energy, those steps should ideally be chosen to achieve this end without substantially raising the price of energy, even temporarily.

      The solution is explained in these two comments:

      Decarbonising the global economy requires and economically rational approach
      https://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313509

      Alternative to carbon pricing – Reduce existing market distortions
      https://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313514

      • Peter, I’m certainly in favor of rationalizing the regulatory status of nuclear power, especially given that the anti-nuclear movement is mostly, IMO, a leftover from Cold War efforts to sabotage Western access to nuclear military technology. One that has, evidently, taken on a life of its own, subsequent to the Soviet collapse.

        But I’m highly skeptical of its long-term economic viability. The ultimate solution to the problem of energy is, IMO, space solar power, with a likely implementation time of 5-12 decades. The question of what technologies are appropriate for the intermediate term should be framed in terms of that longer scale.

        If we suppose applying an analogy of Moore’s law to the similar PV technology, we’re talking about a time-frame of maybe 1-3 decades until the cost becomes negligible compared to the supporting structures. Which latter can reasonably be expected to yield to Yankee ingenuity, and Asian analogues.

        While nuclear fission power is currently an order of magnitude more expensive than it would need to be (absent poorly conceived regulation), I doubt the costs will decrease as fast, or as exponentially, as we can expect for solar power. Still, I agree it should have its chance to compete without prohibitive regulation.

      • AK,

        But I’m highly skeptical of its long-term economic viability. The ultimate solution to the problem of energy is, IMO, space solar power, with a likely implementation time of 5-12 decades. The question of what technologies are appropriate for the intermediate term should be framed in terms of that longer scale.

        I strongly disagree with you on this. IMO, there is no chance that solar power will be any more than a niche player for off-grid electricity generation. The energy density of solar is too low. The collector area required and the material required are far too large for solar to ever be viable. The transmission costs and/or storage are also huge. Moore’s law is not applicable.

        How do you transmit GW of power from space to Earth. Here are some questions you may want to consider: What has been achieved so far and what is the cost per kWh of transmission? Why aren’t we transmittiing power by such methoids now instead of by transmission lines? Why aren’t we transmitting power to our satelites instead of putting very high cost power sources on board?

        On the other hand, the opportunity for massive cost reductions in nuclear fission power is enormous. And the amount of energy available in nuclear fuels in the Earth’s continental crust is effectively unlimited.

        Fusion power not viable now and unlikely to be for a very long time. It plays no part in likely options for powering the planet for the foreseeable future. We have the options available to cut GHG emissions, cut black carbon, cut toxic pollutants, cut fossil fuel transport costs and emissions, reduce fatalities globally from burning coal by over a million fatalities year. The technologies are available and could be developed much faster if the ‘Progressives’ would lift their blocks to progress.

        Did you see my two comments where I explain this alternative tomore fully?

        Decarbonising the global economy requires and economically rational approach
        https://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313509

        Alternative to carbon pricing – Reduce existing market distortions
        https://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313514

      • @Peter Lang…

        I never said anything about off-grid. I’m talking about centralized systems. Although direct solar-hydrogen is probably a better bet than using inverters. And Moore’s law is completely applicable. Or, rather, a generalized version of it. Almost all technology follows an exponential curve of some sort. Your problem is that you’re not looking at the potential for future development.

        As for space solar power, the answers to your questions are out there, and trying to project technology 5-12 decades out from “What has been achieved so far” is ridiculous.

        Why aren’t we transmittiing power by such methods now instead of by transmission lines? Why aren’t we transmitting power to our satelites instead of putting very high cost power sources on board?

        If you don’t know enough about the proposed technology to know the answers to those questions, you don’t know enough to discuss it. Work along those lines, including definition of the constraints involved and necessary enabling technology, has been going on since the 1970’s.

      • AK,

        I never said anything about off-grid. I’m talking about centralized systems. Although direct solar-hydrogen is probably a better bet than using inverters.

        That’s correct. I said it. I expect you fully understood the meaning – i.e. solar is not viable as commercial generation connected to the grid and unlikely to be in the foreseeable future, if ever. IMO, probably never.

        Are you an engineer? Do you have a feel for for for the real meaning of numbers? Do you have, what engineers call engineering judgement? It comes with experience. If so consider this: Solar power is far more expensive than nuclear, unreliable, requires far more land area and far more materials (steel concrete, etc and all the mining, processing, manufacturing, processing, decommissioning and disposal – and all the transport between all the steps). Get the point?

        Are you prepared to open your mind on this? If so, I cam lead you. Do you want to be led?

        I posted the following to a questioner on >i>Climate Spectator today. It may answer some of your questions:

        John Harding, thank you for asking genuine questions. You seem to be genuinely interested and open minded. That is very welcome. It is a sign that Australians are beginning to take interest and challenge their long held fears about nuclear power.

        Regarding thorium, I’d suggest people should not pick winners and lock in behind advocating any one of the potential future technologies. There are 43 emerging nuclear technologies listed here. The widely promoted LFTR (thorium) technology is just one of the 43 and not highly ranked at this time http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Power-Reactors/Small-Nuclear-Power-Reactors/. This recent UK government report “Comparison of thorium and uranium fuel cycles” https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/65504/6300-comparison-fuel-cycles.pdf is balanced, authoritative and consistent with what wise-heads like Ziggy Switkowski said in the 2006 “Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy” Report. Thorium reactors are unlikely to be commercially viable for decades. The advantages compared with uranium are small and it would need 100 GW in operation to get over the advantage uranium fuels enjoy. I prefer to remain entirely agnostic on technologies and deal only with requirements and costs.

        You asked:
        >”I wonder if there is any data on a comparison of lifetime cost of energy production between nuclear power generation and solar thermal, taking into account all costs including fuel mining, processing, plant running costs and end of fuel costs and end of life plant removal costs.”

        Yes there are – many of them. However a few points to recognise from the get go:

        1. Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) theoretically includes the full life cycle cost of producing electricity from a technology. Most externalities of nucldear power are included ion its cost of electricity, but the same is not true for fossil fuels or renewables. Fossil fuels and renewables have more externalities than nuclear. For example, the cost of nuclear generated electricity includes the costs of decommissioning and nuclear waste disposal, mine rehabilitation, etc. However, the equivalent costs are not normally included in the cost of electricity from fossil fuels or renewable energy. If you want to know more: http://www.externe.info/externe_d7/

        2. The decommissioning and used fuel management (and ultimate disposal of nuclear waste) are small costs added to the cost of nuclear power. This is because the occur beyond the end of the plant, after it has produced an enormous amount of power and revenue. The discounted cost of the decommissioning and fuel waste management amounts to about 0.1 to 0.2 c/kWh added to the cost of electricity from the plant over its life time.

        3. LCOE is very dependent on many assumptions, such as discount rate, economic life of the plant, capacity factor and many more.

        4. In most cases these comparisons cannot be used to compare intermittent (non dispatchable) energy technologies (such as wind and solar) with the reliable (dispatchable) technologies (such as fossil fuels nuclear and hydro) because there are many other costs that must be added to the cost of renewables. But that’s another topic. Just be aware of it when looking at the comparisons. Here’s an example for PV that will give a flavour of some of what is involved: http://www.esaa.com.au/Library/PageContentFiles/0ed86edb-b445-43f7-b1da-04dba6c4b4bf/Who_pays_for_solar_energy.pdf

        5. There is an alternative, simple way of comparing the cost of technologies where most of the cost is the financial costs of servicing the capital cost not fuel costs. So it can b e applied to comparisons of nuclear and renewables. It is to compare the cost per average kW of power delivered over the expected life of the plant. Comparing nuclear and solar power station on this basis ($/kW average power over life time):
        Gemasolar (Spain) = $35,000/kW average
        Tonapah, USA = $18,000/kW average
        Nuclear = $4,500/kW average

        In answer to your question regarding “comparison of lifetime cost of energy production between nuclear power generation and solar thermal, here are some authoritative sources that compare the LCOE from various technologies:
        [links moved to next post to avoid the comment going to moderation]

        Enjoy!

        cont …

      • From 1992: Beamed microwave power transmission and its application to space

        The general principles and special components of beamed microwave power transmission systems are outlined, and their application to the space program is discussed. For a beamed system starting with a DC source of power, converting it to a microwave beam for transmission through space, and ending with DC power output at the receiving end, an experimentally measured and certified DC-to-DC efficiency of 54% has been achieved. The application that is discussed in detail is a low-earth-orbit-to-geostationary-orbit (LEO to GEO) transportation system that depends on vehicles propelled by electric thrusters whose power is supplied by a microwave beam originating at the earth’s surface. A scenario for such a system is chosen, and the performance results are presented. The advantages of the all electronic system over a chemically propelled system are enumerated. The principles of space propulsion, particularly as they relate to electric propulsion, are outlined. Key components at the terminals of the system are discussed. Environmental considerations are discussed

        From recently: Industry and Technology Assessment: Space Based Solar Power

        Unlike traditional sources of energy such as oil, gas and coal (the fossil fuels), SBSP doesn’t involve the burning of fossil fuels, which have been shown to cause severe environmental problems and global warming. SBSP is also more efficient than traditional solar power, as sunlight is almost five and a half times as strong in space than it is on the surface of the earth [1], as it does not have to interact with the atmosphere, weather, and day/night cycles. Space based solar power would be able to run almost continuously, with only short periods of time (of at most 75 minutes during the equinoxes [2]) when a satellite would be in the Earth’s shadow.

        Some important aspects have changed that could lead to SBSP evolving from a futuristic fantasy into a current, plausible reality. First is the advent of private space launch companies. The most famous one is SpaceX, which aims to launch objects into space at a fraction of the current costs. The other is the wireless revolution. Such widespread use has allowed wireless power transmission to take dramatic leaps forward, and as a consequence, provided a plausible solution to the issue of transmitting power from space onto the surface of the Earth.

        In this report, we introduce some of the technological aspects of SBSP. However, we will be focusing on laying down the economic groundwork for SBSP. We obtain linearized trend data for various factors that affect the marginal cost of SBSP (primarily solar panel efficiency, orbital transport costs, and energy demand and cost). We determined that it is actually infeasible to begin work on SBSP, as the marginal costs do not provide an adequate annual return for us to recommend SBSP.

        Unfortunately, we determined that large capital and R&D costs are required for SBSP to occur, further decreasing the likelihood of SBSP from being large scale feasible. Without dramatic disruptive technology or large, governmental investments, SBSP will not be feasible as a mainstream source of energy until at least 2040.

        Quite a bit shorter than the 5-12 decade time-frame I mentioned. And from a pessimistic perspective.

      • Some news stories: from 2008: A step forward for space solar power

        “What we achieved was a first-of-its-kind long-range test of solar-powered wireless power transmission technologies, essentially all of the major system elements that would need to be in a space solar power system,” Mankins said.

        From 2009: Space-Based Solar Power Coming to California in 2016

        In Solaren’s proposal, solar power satellites would be positioned in stationary orbit about 22,000 miles above the equator. The satellites – whose arrays of mirrors could be several miles across – would collect the sun’s rays on photoelectric cells and convert them into radio waves. The radio waves would then be beamed to a receiving station on the ground, where they would be converted into electricity and delivered to PG&E’s power grid. Because the radio beam is spread out over a wide area, it would not be dangerous to people, airplanes, or wildlife.

        As of 22 May 2011 this was still on target: Space-based Solar Power by 2016?

        A number of specially designed and built satellites will capture the Sun’s rays, transform them into radio frequency (RF) or microwave energy, and send beams of energy down to receiving antennas (rectennas): unused land in the California heartland close to existing PG&E substations, tied into the existing electrical power grid.

        Solaren plans this for 2016—and as of now, the company is on schedule.

        It’s certainly possible that things have gone south since then, but a quick search couldn’t find any evidence of it.

        Please don’t regard this as an education in space solar power, it’s simply the result of some quick searching to demonstrate that the info is out there.

      • … cont:
        AK,

        … regarding “comparison of lifetime cost of energy production between nuclear power generation and solar thermal, here are some authoritative sources that compare the LCOE from various technologies:

        BREE (2012) “Australian Electricity Technology Assessment”
        http://www.bree.gov.au/documents/publications/aeta/Australian_Energy_Technology_Assessment.pdf
        [This is good. You’ll learn a lot by reading it. And even more if you down load the model in Excel]

        US EIA (2013) “Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources“
        http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm
        This correctly separates Dispatchabe and non-dispatchable technologies because the quoted LCOE for these two groups are not comparable.

        Lang (2012), “Renewables of Nuclear Electricity for Australia – the Cost”
        http://oznucforum.customer.netspace.net.au/TP4PLang.pdf
        This compares the capital cost, cost of electricity, CO2 abatement cost and CO2 emissions from a total system to generate the NEM’s electricity using a mix of technologies that are mostly renewables or mostly nuclear

      • AK,

        You are repeating yourself. But you are so wrong, and obviously stuck in some warped belief system, with apparently closed mind so no point me trying to discuss your beliefs with you.

        Some important aspects have changed that could lead to SBSP evolving from a futuristic fantasy into a current, plausible reality.

        No mate. It’s a fantasy. Sorry to puncture your bubble. Try a new one.

      • @Peter Lang…

        Are you an engineer? Do you have a feel for for for the real meaning of numbers? Do you have, what engineers call engineering judgement? It comes with experience.

        I’m a software engineer, among other things, and what you call “engineering judgement” strikes me as nothing but narrow vision and future-blindness. It comes with experience in people who lock themselves into whatever ways of doing things they’ve already learned, without considering other approaches. I’ve demonstrated to my own satisfaction, and that of my employers, that the traditional methods of estimating the cost and difficulty of IT projects can often be bettered by an order of magnitude. (Assuming management actually wants faster, better, cheaper software development, which in my experience they usually don’t. They want what fits their expectations, and faster/cheaper/better tends to upset most of them, even as they mouth their false “appreciation”.)

        Everything I’ve seen in your writing smacks of rejection of anything outside your limited experience. I certainly don’t intend to challenge your estimates of cost-effectiveness wrt nuclear fission energy, although it wouldn’t surprise me if, in the event, your estimates turn out to be high. But your efforts to understand the future of solar power are clearly ignorant and/or ill-informed. Your insistence on applying “standards” of cost estimates to future technology renders all your analyses useless, except for ignorant nay-saying.

        On-grid solar power has a very good chance of becoming the standard for power generation within 20-30 years. The “problems” you refer to are all figments of your limited imagination (technically, artifacts of the limits of your imagination):

        Solar power is far more expensive than nuclear, unreliable, requires far more land area and far more materials (steel concrete, etc and all the mining, processing, manufacturing, processing, decommissioning and disposal – and all the transport between all the steps).

        There are very good reasons to suppose that the actual semi-conductor cost of solar power is decreasing exponentially, and will continue to do so. Recent advances in energy generation include direct solar-to-electrolytic hydrogen, eliminating the intervening steps, which hydrogen can be fed into fuel cells, with intervening storage that eliminates most of the issues with intermittency and unreliability. They also include the recent development of concentrated cooling systems allowing concentrations of 2-5000 times.

        Concrete and steel aren’t even the cheapest or easiest way of solving the structural problems today (AFAIK): they’re just the ones engineers with limited imaginations think of first. Need weight to counter wind? Sandbags made from glass wool will work fine. In most areas, only the bags would need to be transported. A bit of epoxy sprayed on the outside would be enough to prevent deterioration and bio-invasion. Need concentrating mirrors? Make them small and mass-produced, and add a cheap real-time control system using IT that is subject to Moore’s Law.

        Need more surface area for solar power collection? Large areas of the world are desert, with little use to humans and limited ecosystems. The biggest deserts are ocean, much of the tropical Pacific, IIRC. Of course, current technology isn’t up to covering thousands of square Km with solar power systems, but that technology, too, is subject to exponential cost decreases. Much of it depends on improvements in information handling: cheap, and always cheaper real-time control systems.

        And so on. Granted, any specific advance I’ve mentioned might not happen, but many of them will, as well as others I haven’t predicted.

      • AK,

        You’re a software engineer. So you’ve never worked with anything large and physical like an electricity power plant. And you haven’t been around long enough to understand what engineering “judgement means” and how enormously valuable it is.

        You are unable to understand that Moore’s Law does not apply to costs of large physical systems like power system engineering, infrastructure, transport systems, etc with 50 to 100 year economic life for high cost components.

        You did not answer my questions about how much it would cost to transmit say 35 GW of power from space to power Eastern Australia’s electricity grid, or 25 GW average plus storage to deliver power on demand.

        You didn’t answer why we aren’t transmitting power between power stations and cities without poles and wires.

        You didn’t answer why we aren’t transmitting power up to our satellites instead of providing them with very expensive on board generating systems.

        You didn’t answer about and demonstrations of GW of power being transmitted.

        You didn’t answer about the safety issues of what happens when the beam loses orientation (which will inevitably happen) and zaps people.

        And obviously you never read any of the links I gave you.

        I interpret you as the sort of you and gullible person who gets a belief and is incapable of challenging it.

        This belief is so nutty, I am amazed an engineer can fall for it. I sure hope you software engineering is confined to making computer games, and you are not contracted to ever work on any projects where peoples safety could be an issue.

        P.S. I didn’t bother reading your comment. I got the drift from the first fey lines and a skim.

      • @Peter Lang…

        I read the first few links you provided, then realized you have no idea what you’re talking about. As for answering your questions: have you stopped beating your wife?

        You are clearly a future-blind stuck-in-the-mud has-been, with little or no ability to see beyond what you’re used to. I pity you, as well as anybody who relies on your projections.

        You are unable to understand that Moore’s Law does not apply to costs of large physical systems like power system engineering, infrastructure, transport systems, etc with 50 to 100 year economic life for high cost components.

        I understand clearly that technology usually follows some sort of exponential path, although it’s dependent on many social and political factors as well as economic. As for systems “with 50 to 100 year economic life“, your reference to this alone is enough to show that you’re stuck in the 20th century… and not the later part of it. At the rate technology is advancing, and has been for the last 3-4 decades, any investment in “large physical systems […] with 50 to 100 year economic life” will almost certainly be rendered obsolete by the time it’s complete, much less long before its expected pay-back period.

        You say I haven’t answered your questions: Those questions don’t make sense. They show an abysmal ignorance of the current and projected technology involved.

        P.S. I did read your entire comment, and carefully studied every question until I was sure it qualified for the response I made at the top. You may be an engineer, but what you’re writing here, and in the links I bothered to follow, isn’t engineering. It’s propaganda based on wishful thinking.

      • AK,

        You are clearly a future-blind stuck-in-the-mud has-been, with little or no ability to see beyond what you’re used to.

        Imagination is great, but pointless if totally unrealistic and based on no knowledge or understanding of reality, which is what yours is.

        You might be better off to imagine piping hydrogen from the Sun.

        Anyway, enjoy your dreams.

    • Nice post, AK.

      I do think, though, that the role of cheap energy is even wider than you said. The wealth it creates has driven huge advances in things like medical science and a bunch of technologies which improve the quality of life of everyone in those societies. Personal freedom is moot if you only live to age 40 or don’t have access to clean water and decent plumbing.

      As you point out, anything which compromises relatively cheap energy will inevitably reduce the overall quality of life for many people. To deliberately pursue such policies is in a very real sense an attack on personal freedom.

      • johanna, I’d certainly agree that the role of cheap energy in improving quality of life is much greater than I mentioned. However, libertarianism is mostly about freedom of choice, and I framed my argument in those terms. I’m confident I could make an airtight case that cheap energy for private automobiles and small delivery vehicles has contributed vastly to that economic freedom of choice, primarily by offering random access transportation.

        Quality of life is also important, but also even to (many) people with less concern for personal freedom. But that’s an argument appropriate for any discussion of “carbon taxes”, not specifically libertarian positions on them.

  9. (I feel) Almost everyone on this blog would support a carbon tax if:
    – it could be enforced effectively across the world economy
    – it was correctly tied to GMT
    – the funds raised were used in an efficient and appropriate manner

    In theory, these solutions are always sensible. But based off real-world experience, is there any way to check the above three boxes? The mechanisms for enforcing global compliance in business, for objective analysis in this field of study, and for politicians to prudently managing a trust fund have all been found wanting.

    Let’s not base the most expensive policy in history on these pillars.

    • I’m happy to join SUT’s position, except for the qualification “[if] the funds raised were used in an efficient and appropriate manner”

      That might be simple: rebate all of the money collected by the tax equally to every citizen. Those causing more than average damage to the atmosphere pay more; everyone has some incentive to reduce emissions.

      Effective enforcement across the world economy appears impractical, but it might be possible to protect domestic businesses from unfair competition from carbon-tax-free competitors by imposing estimated carbon taxes on imports and rebating them on exports. Thereby, each country would be responsible for taxing the emissions made directly and indirectly by their citizens, whether or not those emissions were domestic or foreign. Deciding how large a carbon tax to place on various imports and to rebate to exporters will be contentious, so groups of nations with similar levels of carbon taxes might band together to eliminate the need for rebating and re-taxing as goods cross their mutual borders.

      • Frank, you say that “it might be possible to protect domestic businesses from unfair competition from carbon-tax-free competitors by imposing estimated carbon taxes on imports and rebating them on exports.” This does not apply to Australia: resource and energy exports are the major driver of our economy, and our taxed exporters are in global competition with untaxed rivals. There is already evidence that this is one factor (among several) driving global resource companies to invest in countries other than Australia.

      • Faustino: From my perspective, the Australian government is nuts for forcing Australian coal miners to compete outside Australia with the burden of today’s carbon tax. To make a big change in emissions, a much larger carbon tax will eventually be needed and Australian coal will no longer be competitive. Australia should be rebating every penny of the carbon tax on coal that leaves its shores. If the Chinese or other customers want to apply a carbon tax to all coal burned in their country to discourage carbon dioxide emissions, that is their responsibility.

        The same principle should apply to the carbon emissions made creating other imports and exports. Energy (mostly from fossil fuels) is about 10% of GDP, so roughly 10% of the cost every export and import is from the energy used to make it. If Australian is going to significantly reduce its carbon emissions, you may need a carbon tax that doubles the cost of fossil fuels, which is perhaps half of the cost of energy. If your businesses are going to survive, Australian businesses need to have their carbon taxes rebated on exports and carbon taxes imposed on imports.

    • SUT,

      (I feel) Almost everyone on this blog would support a carbon tax if:

      I wouldn’t because:
      1. It raises the cost of energy and therefore harms human well being; and
      2. It is not necessary and not the right approach, IMO

      To understand why, please seem my comment 2nd from the top of this thread.

  10. This could be a much shorter piece…

    Libertarians don’t really like anything! So just tell them to “buck-up and accept it; you can’t change it” will do!!!! I’m a libertarian, and that’s pretty much how I feel about everything these days!!!! :-)

  11. Morley Sutter

    Bart R.
    Will I be taxed if I breath excessively as in running or whatever?
    Morley

    • Why? The fuel you burn has been grown from CO2 recently taken from the atmosphere, not fuel sequestered underground for millions of years while our planet adapted to an atmosphere low in carbon dioxide.

  12. I don’t know if this is a libertarian thing, nut I suspect that people hate to waste their money on useless thing.
    A carbon tax will acheive nothing, regardless of the question if AGW is real.

    So, there.

    • A carbon tax will achieve MUCH, ALL BAD FOR US.

      • Rob Starkey

        Untrue actually. It would raise revenue which is good.

      • Rob Starkey. I suspect you said that tongue in cheek, did you?

        Revenue is only good if it does more harm than good. Unfair, distorting taxes do more harm than good.

      • Rob Starkey

        peter- ultimately revenue and expenses must be aligned and the US is not going to significantly outflows therefore revenue must be increased. Wishing otherwise is a fantasy doomed to failure

  13. So, that’s why Libertarians, Conseravtives, Progressives, Liberals and smart people a.k.a. economists should unite and reject the idea.

  14. Well since green stuff creates the most CO2 pollution, then anybody that grows or promotes growing green stuff should be taxed. Better yet, let’s cut down all the forests!

    Just another in a string of absurd B.S. articles attempting to justify funding the government to enhance the power of the elitist left, particularly considering that the purported need to curb CO2 is without a sound justification.

  15. Steven Mosher

    Ed

    “The issue of climate change is a source of cognitive dissonance for libertarians. ”

    As a Libertarian I have to agree. And I also agree with just about everything else you wrote. especially the bottomline

    “, it is reasonable for them to support the least intrusive, least inefficient government intervention available to deal with the problem. In my view, that alternative is a carbon tax. Even if it is a tax that libertarians cannot love, it is one they should support.”

    perhaps you might have a discussion with the folks at RStreet

    http://rstreet.org/

    I’ve had a good meeting with Eli Lehrer; he’s worth listening to.

    • Rob Starkey

      The issue(s) over a carbon tax on CO2 in the USA seem the same whether a person is a libertarian, democrat or republican. The question is (or should be) what is the tax going to accomplish and is the accomplishment worth the cost?
      Q- Will an additional carbon tax raise revenue from the government?
      A-Yes, it could generate a vast amount of revenue depending on the amount of the tax.
      Q- Would a carbon tax eliminate the US budget problem?
      A-That is unknown unless or until such a tax was presented as a part of an overall package that examined overall expenses and revenues. A significant concern is that such an increase in government revenues helps to solidify the governments expanded role in society. Many believe it is better to initially cut government spending to the maximum extent possible and then only to add an additional tax as a last resort to achieve a balanced budget.
      Q- Will it have a positive impact on the climate or the weather and if so when?
      A-This one is very difficult to answer with certainty, but generally nothing noticeable would change. The amount of a reduction in CO2 emissions from the US would result in only very modest changes in overall CO2 concentrations worldwide. It seems highly unlikely that the resultant changes would have any noticeable impact on the climate within the lifetimes of those incurring the cost of the tax.

  16. The three posts could be combined in a single article, titled:

    Why People Should Ignore Their Own Principles and Adopt the Policy I Want.

    • Steven Mosher

      you could do a companion piece, called disregard the science because it conflicts with your principles. I suppose your anti evolution as well

      • Wow, a carbon tax is now science. But then, I suppose since words have no objective meanings in Progressive Land, “science” can be whatever Humpty Dumpty wants it to mean today.

      • Rob Starkey

        Steve

        Your comment is an over the top shot that seems inappropriate.

        What does the science tell you will be the impact of such a tax if adpoted by the US tax? I expect a vague response since you know that the science can not tell you that the tax would change anything noticeable by humans

      • Steven Mosher,

        That is a stupid comment. You haven’t shown that a carbon price would achieve the benefits its proponents claim. So you are advocating an high cost policy with almost no chance of it achieving its objectives. And, why are you doing that? I suspect it isx because of your frequently demonstrated ideologically driven, motivated reasoning.

        You clearly don’t have much of a clue about policy. You can’t answer the fundamental questions about what would be the costs and benefits for USA or any other country of imposing a carbon price, can you?

        I know you can’t because you’ve been ducking those questions for more than a year or flying into an abusive tirade when your silliness is pointed out to you.

      • Actually, ‘libertarian’ econoblogger Tim Worstall has been all over this for years. He has dissected the issue in numerous posts and comes down firmly on the side of a carbon tax as the most efficient and least disruptive manner in dealing with the negative externalities of climate change.

        If it is made revenue neutral I fail to see any logical reason for objection from other libertarians and precious few for conservatives. But as I’m a progressive liberal, I’m sure there are things I’m not seeing from the proper POV.

      • Tom Fuller,

        It cannot be revenue neutral. the compliance costs are huge for a system that is at the standard that would eventually be required.

      • “called disregard the science because it conflicts with your principles”

        Or another piece:
        ‘Invoke science to promote your ideology”

  17. Willis Eschenbach

    Ah, wonderful, Mr. Ed has returned to lead us to sanity. Folks, don’t miss his next exciting installment, “Why The Brain-Dead Support A Carbon Tax” …

    Judith, the quality of your guest speakers is getting … well, let me describe them as pathetic, and with more than a whiff of desperation in their arguments. Ed, though, is in a class all his own … I think it’s called “fourth” …

    w.

    PS—I did love his uncited, unreferenced, and frankly unbelievable claim that a carbon tax is “the least intrusive, least inefficient government intervention available” to deal with the problem … but then uncited, unreferenced, and frankly unbelievable claims seem to be Mr. Ed’s stock in trade.

  18. “support the least intrusive, least inefficient government intervention available”

    …which is for the government to not intervene. Not a penny or minute wasted.

    Andrew

    • Steven Mosher

      No Andrew,

      Here are the government interventions
      1. regulate
      2. tax
      3. subsidize

      Regulation is more intrusive than taxation.
      Subsidizing more more inefficient.

      So, if I have to choose 1,2 or 3, I’ll pick 2. because its the least instrusive and least inefficient.

      The lessor of three evils.

    • Andrew and Willis: “No intervention” is not “the least intrusive, least inefficient government intervention available”. No intervention is no intervention. If you don’t believe in intervention, fine. There are plenty of times when doing nothing is the best choice.

      As thoughtful citizens, however, I’m sure you don’t want your government to decide whether or not to intervene without considering the best method, the costs, the benefits, and the practicality/probability of success. Has Ed correctly identified the method (regulation, subsidy, taxes or ?) that provides the toughest competition for doing nothing?

      • Frank,

        There is another option. It is to remove the many government interventions that have been implemented over the past century or so that are distorting the energy market and preventing us having the least cost, most abundant, most reliable, most secure, low emissions energy.

        The first step governments should take is to remove the m ass of unnecessary impediments that are retarding progress. We certainly should not be advocating adding more until we’ve cleaned up the mess of regulatory, tax, licencing, subsides etc that have been imposed in the past.

      • Peter: I sympathize with your desire to remove all government interventions from the energy market, but I’m not convinced the situation is as “black-and-white” as you imply.

        I recently read one of the reports claiming that US taxpayers were providing more subsidies to the fossil fuel industry than to renewables. (This claim arises from an older report from the Environmental Law Institute and is contradicted by a more recent report from the CBO). I learned that most of these fossil fuel subsidies (tax breaks) were enacted in response to the 1970’s oil crises to promote development of domestic unconventional fossil fuels (oil shale, deepwater, etc). Now that the 1990’s oil glut is over, suddenly America is contemplating real energy independence and I suspect that these subsidies made some contribution to this dramatic change. (I can’t prove this and would be interested in a decent analysis.) Given the risk that instability in oil-producing countries and massive trade imbalances pose to our economy, I think those subsidies could have been worth their costs. Unfortunately, I have no idea how much I paid. If there had been a tariff on imported oil, every citizen would know how much they were paying to avoid the risks of foreign oil and such transparency is good. On the other hand, a tax on imported oil wouldn’t have accomplished much during the years of the oil glut, while tax breaks were only used when the cost difference between conventional and unconventional fossil fuels narrowed.

        I’m not sure if there is any consensus among economists about the optimum strategy for dealing with “external costs”, but I’m sure that the worst thing the US government could have done in 1980 was mandate reduction in the oil imports and forced consumers to buy domestic production regardless of price. This is the strategy being applied to fossil fuels by most governments today. We would have missed out on the added prosperity arising a decade and a half of cheap oil, particularly exporters.

  19. ““the least intrusive, least inefficient government intervention available”

    To achieve nothing…. It’s the best road to nowhere….

  20. “If you have looked dispassionately at the relevant science, and you are satisfied, based on the preponderance of evidence, that GHG emissions pose no risk, so be it. Otherwise, read on.”

    Uhhhh…no.

    “no risk” is not the correct threshold.

    Provable risk and more importantly actual damages that you can prove were a result of carbon sins. You are asking for society to “pre-pay” based on potential risk that results in even more dubious *** future *** potential damages.

    Why would we not wait for these damages to actually occur so we don’t have to guess how much to tax someone for their carbon sins?

    If this was the threshold for levying a punitive tax, I could tax my neighbor now for the damage his tree will cause after it falls on my house in 20 years.

    • Tom, tax as prepayment for potential risk is nothing new. Consider tax revenues spent on defense as one example.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Tom, excellent point and well said.

        Max, remember Tom said “provable risk”. The risk from aggressive neighbors is beyond the need for proof, it’s happened throughout history.

        Damage done by carbon, on the other hand? Little observational support if any for such risk.

        w.

      • He’s bringing it up in a legal sense with the “preponderance of evidence” terminology. I read this as a justification of a punitive tax based on damages to others, not a collective effort to solve a problem.

        The present fossil fuel energy sector is being punished for future sins here. While it is not politically correct to allow these evil people to have the right to defend themselves, they do and should have the right to force the government to justify the ruination of their business.

        And estimates of future damages based on climate models doesn’t rise to this level in my opinion. There is almost zero evidence that CO2 has caused significant damages to date. That matters.

        And don’t confuse the issue, I’m speaking of CO2 here, not the more nasty emissions that have provable health consequences and technical solutions.

      • Willis Eschenbach said on July 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm

        Max, remember Tom said “provable risk”. The risk from aggressive neighbors is beyond the need for proof, it’s happened throughout history.
        _____

        Willis, do you mean like Iraq was getting ready to nuke us?

        HA HA !

        Do you mean like N. Viet Nam planned to invade California?

        HA HA !

        BTW, how come we recognize Viet Nam but not Cuba?
        Oh, I know ! Cuba plans to invade Florida.

      • Max_OK,

        No we recognize Viet Nam and not Cuba because, while John Kennedy started wars in both countries, he did not try to assassinate the president of Viet Nam. And while the Democrats under Lyndon Johnson tried to bomb North Korea into the stone age, they had previously abandoned the men they sent to Cuba to die on the beaches.

        That’s why. :-)

      • Steven Mosher

        maxok. good one..

        You forgot our aggressive canadian neighbors and mexican neighbors.

        According to willis:
        “The risk from aggressive neighbors is beyond the need for proof, it’s happened throughout history.”

        I love when guys like willis forget that the risk planning we do for the military is predicated on the least likely scenarios. On scenarios that are not rooted or thinly rooted in history.

        History would tell us to prepare for a war with england or japan or germany or mexico or that english colony to the north called canada.
        History would not tell us to prepare for a war with China, but thats precisely why we would plan for one in threat analysis.

      • Mosh: The most important lesson history teaches us is about the relative likelihood of wars between societies based democratic and totalitarian principles. Societies change, your examples are out of date.

        With its WMD programs, Iraq in the 1980s was a classic example of the dangers posed by some totalitarian governments, but we didn’t understand how effectively that problem had been contained during the 1990s.

      • One of the main reasons for conflict is because of resource constraints. If we restrict a country’s access to essential energy supplies, or raise its cost for what is perceived and an unjust or spurious reason, this would be a cause for potential conflict.

        The Greens advocate Australia’s government should stop exporting coal or jack up the price so high with taxes it has the same effect. [The Greens also want to stop all expenditure on defence – presdumably they expect the USA would defend Australia if it gets into a conflict, but the Greens also hate waht they consider “capitalist, imperialist Americans”.]

        Another main reason for conflict is perceived inequality in wealth, well-being, access to essential resources (including advanced country systems like health, Education, Finance, infrastructure, fullfilling careers, etc). Raising the cost of energy has exactly the opposite of the desired result and therefore increases the probability of future conflicts.

        The whole idea of government intervention and carbon tax is wrong.

      • Steven Mosher,

        You are totally out of your area of expertise (i.e IT geek) when you start commenting on policy. You clearly know nothing about the subject at all. I suggest you’d do better to stick to your knitting.

      • Perhaps a better metric would be DALYs saved due to action. The classic example (from Bjorn Lomborg a decade ago) is seatbelts on school buses. A great idea, right? But it would cost a gazillion dollars to save one life. Whereas micronutrients for the poor cost pennies per life saved. A revenue neutral carbon tax is really very inexpensive insurance.

    • Tom Scharf,

      “no risk” is not the correct threshold.

      Provable risk and more importantly actual damages that you can prove were a result of carbon sins. You are asking for society to “pre-pay” based on potential risk that results in even more dubious *** future *** potential damages.

      +1

  21. “The issue of climate change is a source of cognitive dissonance for libertarians. ”

    Right, because the only possibility is that libertarians are brain damaged, not that they have merit to their argument.

  22. A tax is never the answer to the problem of humanity. Tax generates nothing but waste through excessive administration costs and the perpetual increases needed to maintain compliance with laws that administer the tax.

    • By never spending money you can avoid all wasteful administrative costs. Then have your money buried with you. OK, there might be a little administrative cost there, right at the end.

      • why is taxing people always the solution? Oh by the way, there is no carbon tax on burning wood. When Natural gas gets too expensive no one is going to buy $4000.00 high efficient furnace when $900.00 wood fire place can be installed. Guess the air is going to get real thick then…

  23. I thank Ed Dolan for his two previous postings on carbon tax as well as this most recent one.

    Tax revenues are necessary and IMO there’s no better way to raise revenues than taxing what should be discouraged, which in this case is the inefficient consumption of fossil fuels, a depletable and polluting energy resource.

    I favor a revenue-neutral carbon tax because I believe it will be induce public acceptance. I know, however, if such a tax is successful in reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and encouraging development and use of renewable energy, other taxes will have to be raised if revenue is to be maintained.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Yeah, Max, that’s worked out so well in British Columbia

      w.

      • Willis,

        Interesting article and well written. Thank you.

        I find it amazing that some dingbats who blog here, such as Mosher, support such a scheme. It demonstrates the extent of group think, herd mentality and motivated reasoning among the ‘Progressives’ (who are in the main also the CAGW doomsayers).

    • Willis, B.C. likes it’s revenue-neutral carbon tax and is keeping it. You should be pleased knowing other places are looking at B.C. as a model (e.g., Oregon). Just think, if another place decides to have a revenue tax, you can use your WUWT article again with just a few word changes. Those Wattsies will never know the difference.

      • I don’t know about BC, the enlightened leaders of which have decided that their idiotic tax is so successful, they are going to freeze it for 5 years to prevent any more damage to their economy than they have already caused. But I will bet the gas station owners in Washington State love it to death.

        I wonder what percentage of the BC population liver close enough to the border to take advantage of those stupid, environment hating Washintonians. You know, the ones who refuse to enact a tax that has zero benefit to the environment, but is a serious drain on the poor and harms their own economy.

      • GaryM, Vancouver, the B.C. population center, is about 50 miles from Bellingham, Washington, the town nearest the border. I don’t believe it would make sense for them to drive down just for gas. Using the IRS mileage allowance of 55.5 cents per mile would put the round trip at about $55. I just checked, and the average price of regular gas in Bellingham was $3.79 per gallon and the average in Vancouver works out to about $5.50 US. Given this $1.71 per gallon difference, you would have to buy 32 gallons of gas in Belligham to to break even for the trip ($55.00 / $1.71 = 32). I doubt many Canadians drive vehicles with gas tanks that hold more than 32 gallons.

        But that’s not all. Included in the $3.79 per gallon in Bellingham is a 37.5 cents tax, which is of dubious benefit to the Canadian, since it doesn’t go toward paying for roads or anything else in Canada.

      • GaryM,

        The dingbats who argue for these loony schemes are prepared to pay $1000 for maximum possible temperature reduction of 0.0003 C in 50 years time. They must be nuts.

      • Max_OK,

        Mapquest disagrees with you, putting it at 21 miles. Less than half your guesstimate.

      • No, GaryM, mapquest gives the distance from Vancouver, B.C. to Bellingham, WA as 54.07 miles, which is even greater than my estimate of 50 miles.

        http://www.mapquest.com/#cf854cc042f0c25699b991d7

        Another good thing about the B.C. revenue-neutral carbon tax is it makes pollution advocates fulminate.

      • “The Canadian Shield and rugged western mountains experience subarctic climates, resulting in a near empty north—an estimated 75 percent of Canadians live within 161 kilometers (100 miles) of the U.S. border.”
        http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/canada-facts/

        “Why do most Canadians live near the U.S. border ?”
        There are two major reasons why most Canadians live near the United States border.

        The first reason is economic integration. Canadian exports account for greater than 80% of trade to the US and greater than 50% of their imports from the US.”
        http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090124141927AAXjMKX

        Ask any Canadian, they will tell you they go to US a lot.
        They also go to US for more than gasoline. Alcohol is another reason.
        Also fair amount Americans go Canada. Great fishing.
        LA was 1/3 largest Canadian city. Well, ok, these guys say 4th:
        “In the 1980s, Los Angeles had the fourth largest Canadian population of any city in North America, with New York close behind.”
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_diaspora

        “Nearly 90% of Canadians live within 200km of the border with the United States, which means that Canada contains vast expanses of wilderness to the north. ”
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1198865.stm

        So if 90% is within 200 km and 75% is within 161 kilometers.
        How many are with 100 or 50 km of border?

        I have relatives who live in Tsawwassen and it’s bit unusual but
        it was really close to US border a very sleeping border crossing
        because it’s dead end in terms getting to US.

        Point Roberts, Washington
        A geopolitical oddity, Point Roberts is a part of the mainland United States but is not physically connected to it, making it a pene-exclave of the U.S. It is located on the southernmost tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula, south of Delta, British Columbia, Canada, and can be reached by land from the rest of the United States only by traveling through Canada. It can be reached directly from the rest of Washington and the U.S. by crossing Boundary Bay by sea or air.
        Economy
        Many of the area’s businesses serve weekend and recreational visitors from Greater Vancouver. Canadians visit for cheaper American gas, alcohol, and food; when the Canadian dollar is weak, Americans from Point Roberts do the same in Canada. Many Canadians visited its bars and nightclubs on Sundays until Sunday drinking was legalized in British Columbia in 1986.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Roberts,_Washington

        So how far from Vancouver to it’s suburb of Tsawwassen?
        “Our ferry terminal at Tsawwassen is located 24 miles/38 kms south of Vancouver via Oak Street and Highways 99 and 17.”
        http://www.bcferries.com/travel_planning/driving_instructions.html
        And as I recall the ferry was about same distance as US border from downtown Vancouver.
        But Point Roberts is very small town, most Canadian from Vancouver would take freeway and go to Bellingham for serious shopping, but Blaine for just duty free kind of stuff.
        Point is you wouldn’t go the US just to buy gasoline, but for other stuff
        and of course you would buy the cheaper gas when in the States.
        So Blaine is
        Miles: 24.88
        Kilometers: 40.04
        http://www.mapcrow.info/Distance_between_Vancouver_CA_and_Blaine_US.html

      • Max_OK,

        “No, GaryM, mapquest gives the distance from Vancouver, B.C. to Bellingham, WA as 54.07 miles, which is even greater than my estimate of 50 miles.”

        True, but to get to Bellingham, you have to drive 30 miles past Blaine, WA, which, coincidentally, happens to have a couple of gas stations.

        Why am I not surprised to find that warmists can’t even read a map?

      • GaryM, if you use your head you will see it doesn’t make sense for a resident of Vancouver, B.C. to drive down to Blaine, WA just to fill his car’s fuel tank with cheaper gas. I will explain why.

        According to mapquest Blaine is 31.46 miles from Vancouver and the drive takes 49 minutes. I presume this includes wait time at the border crossing. A round trip of 62.92 miles at the expense rate of 55.5 cents would cost the Canadian motorists $34.92. At a savings of $1.71 per gallon at a gas pump in Blaine, he would need to buy 20.4 gallons of gas just to break even for the trip. Because most cars do not have fuel tanks that hold as much 20 gallons, I doubt you will find many Vancouver residents foolish enough to waist time and money driving down to Blaine just to fill-up.

        Some of the larger SUVs and pick-up trucks have fuel tanks that hold more than 20 gallons. Large pick-ups, such as the Ford F-150, are available with fuel tanks that hold about 35 gallons, and a Vancouver driver could save $25.65 ($1.71 x 15) by driving his pick-up down to Blaine to fill the tank unless he considers his time worth more than 26 cents a minute or $15.70 an hour ( $25.65 / 98 minutes) and doesn’t like the gas tax ($13.12) on his purchase going to Washington State rather than B.C.

      • Max_OK,

        I didn’t say it made sense. I just said you can’t read a map.

      • “According to mapquest Blaine is 31.46 miles from Vancouver and the drive takes 49 minutes. I presume this includes wait time at the border crossing. A round trip of 62.92 miles at the expense rate of 55.5 cents would cost the Canadian motorists $34.92. At a savings of $1.71 per gallon at a gas pump in Blaine, he would need to buy 20.4 gallons of gas just to break even for the trip. Because most cars do not have fuel tanks that hold as much 20 gallons, I doubt you will find many Vancouver residents foolish enough to waist time and money driving down to Blaine just to fill-up.”

        Max, I forgot that you are a consensus true believer, so actual mathematics are irrelevant to you. (The distance you are quoting comes from the northernmost point in Vancouver. Given you are orienteering challenged, north is up on the monitor wen you have the map on your screen.) I also get that you accept that it “costs” $34.92 to make a round trip of 63 miles. The government said so and who are you to question anything government says.

        But of course, none of that was what you wrote in your original, hilariously wrong comment. (Your current response being only marginally less funny.)

      • GaryM, I’m afraid I have you at a disadvantage because I know Vancouver pretty well. Mapquest starts at City Hall which is about 6 miles North of the Fraser River bridge where the city ends, so the mid-point would be about 3 miles South of City Hall, and starting your trip from there would reduce the Blaine, WA round-trip to about 57 miles (62.92 – 6 = 56.92) and put the cost of the trip at $31.60. Just to break even on the $1.71 per gallon cheaper gas at Blaine a Vancouver motorists would have to buy 18.5 gallons of gas, and few cars have tanks with that much capacity unless the tank is entirely empty. So driving from Vancouver to Blaine and back just for cheaper gas ends of costing both time and money.

  24. Ronald Abate

    A carbon tax is about CO2. The EPA has labeled CO2 a pollutant, a purely political decision, as CO2 is essential to life, just like oxygen. Serious scientists mock that ruling as absurd.

    Based upon careful analysis of ice cores, serious scientists have determined that increases in CO2 follow increases in temperature by about 800 years.

    While CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it greenhouse effect declines as the concentration increases, which has forced climate modelers to include positive feedbacks in their models in order to project dangerous anthropogenic global warming. Those “positive” feedbacks have never been verified. It is more likely that the feedbacks are negative. As an aside Alan Carlin, once a long time employee of the EPA and now a former employee, was told to keep his mouth shut when he raised the issue with his superiors that the climate models the IPCC was using for their assessments have never been verified. He was told to keep his mouth shut. You can find a copy of this memo using Google search.

    Serious scientists are studying the ability of cosmic galactic radiation (“CGR”) to influence the creation of clouds – the CERN “Cloud experiment”. Changes in the sun’s activity influences the amount of CGR reaching the earth. Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark has produced some serious scientific analysis that makes the CGR theory quite plausible, so plausible, in fact, that Jasper Kirkby, after almost a decade of resistance by mainstream climate alarmists, was able to obtain the funding and resources at CERN to the pursue this theory. Preliminary result have not falsified the theory. More work needs to be done.

    Recent satellite imagery indicates that the increase in CO2 during the 20th century, which, by the way, has been within the bounds of historic natural variability (e.g., the MWP, was as warm as it is today and that was prior to the burning of hydrocarbons) has produced a greening of the earth. Apparently, increases in CO2 permit trees to utilize water more efficiently. Other real and potential benefits of higher levels of CO2 have not been seriously studied because of the alarmism, which seems very much ideological and well as “special interest” driven (Jeff Immelt at GE wants very badly to sell his company’s wind turbines). What university scientist in his right mind would submit a request to government to fund the study of the benefits of a more CO2 enriched, warmer atmosphere, in spite of the fact that horticulturalists pump warm CO2 into their greenhouses to improve plant hardiness and yield.

    What you do not understand about Libertarians is that they are highly suspicious of the threat that the powerful will trample the freedoms and rights of the individual. There is today no entity more powerful than government. In that regard, what Libertarians take to heart is President Eisenhower’s warning in his Farewell Address : “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is to be gravely regarded”.

  25. its propensity to reject well-substantiated new knowledge because it dislikes some of the consequences which seem to follow from it

    My dear Progressives, if the shoe fits….
    Perhaps it is the progressives that reject science because they dislike the consequential dismantling of big obtrusive government.

    IF CO2 is a pollutant, THEN a fair, blind, universal carbon tax is an efficient way to make the polluter pay. But the payment must be based upon the harm done for this to be true. It is the amount of harm, even it’s sign, that is debatable. Given the predicate conditions, a pollution tax is an efficient means of making the polluter pay.

    But pay whom? Where will that tax revenue go? Even if CO2 is a pollutant, where the revenue goes from a carbon tax is a manifest evil. The influx of carbon tax revenue will create its own political and social pollution, a cesspool of corruption, and metastasize a cancer of totalitarian governments and bureaucracy.

    We object to the carbon tax, not because of its efficiency, but of the greater pollution to society from all that lucre in the hands of statists than it purports to ameliorate

    The soul of the Libertarian:

    Every individual… neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it… he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. — [Adam Smith: The Theory Of Moral Sentiments, Part IV, Chapter I, pp.184-5, para. 10. ]

    • Stephen Racey,

      My dear Progressives, if the shoe fits….
      Perhaps it is the progressives that reject science because they dislike the consequential dismantling of big obtrusive government.

      +1
      I agree.
      Why don’t the progressives recognise how hypocritical they are making comments like this? Who are they aiming these comments at? Who do they think they will persuade with such nonsense?

      IF CO2 is a pollutant, THEN a fair, blind, universal carbon tax is an efficient way to make the polluter pay.

      Not so fast. Not true. It won’t work, wont succeed, and will cost a bomb. it is not the right solution. In fact it is the opposite of the best solution.

      See the comment at the top of this thread: https://judithcurry.com/2013/07/15/why-libertarians-should-support-a-carbon-tax/#comment-344584

  26. A person whose pollution harms another’s person or property should pay for the resulting harm. People do not pollute just for the fun of it. They do so because polluting, when unrestricted, is a cheap way of disposing of wastes

    The mere existence of humans generates “waste”. The individual harm done by my heating of my home is much smaller than the “cost” of the carbon tax. I pay taxes to deal with other waste products, like waste water.
    In BC the tax will easily cost over $400.00 per year. This is equal to swatting a fly with a 20 pound sledge hammer. An article in Nature Climate Change talked about Ethics in environmental policy and this message is parroted here. So being born human means you have to pay to cover your cost on the environment. This is pure crap. Where does this come from?

  27. R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist, etc.

    Best new take-away phrase from this post, referring to conservatives:

    “propensity to reject well-substantiated new knowledge because it dislikes some of the consequences which seem to follow from it…”

    Obscurantism

    This phrase will not win many fans among a large group who would rather be simply known as “skeptics” but a certain mind-set is implied by this phrase that is more direct than the other pejorative of “denier”.

    • Rob Starkey

      Gates- Please try to identify what positive benefit (other than revenue) would come from a carbon tax in the USA. Would the weather be better–where & when?

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist, etc.

        Rob,

        You have apparently assumed that I am in favor of such a tax. Being a Libertarian, let’s say that I’m not convinced. Government (and therefore taxes) should be exactly the right size and not one iota bigger or smaller. The underlying assumption is of course that we need to institute some Anthropocene Management 101. The Human Carbon Volcano has now been erupting for several centuries, with the eruption growing especially intense over the last few decades. Would a carbon tax be one way to fund such an Anthropocene Management, assuming we need to manage our atmospheric carbon waste products? If run correctly, it would be. Judging by the way governements around the world (including Uncle Sam) waste our hard-earned tax dollars, I would be very hard to convince to give the bloated governments any more money to waste.

      • We seem to generally agree. My error in misunderstanding your position

    • Are you suggesting that scepics didn’t exist in the days long before phrases like ‘carbon tax’ were coined?

    • Steven Mosher

      I always preferred ‘confuser’ to denialist, but Obscurantist would come in a close second.

      I think it was a mistake to call skeptics merchants of doubt, because that makes us merchants of certainty by the first law of marketing.

      A better approach would have been to describe them as merchants of confusion. They use many tactics to create confusion, doubt being only one, and denial being another.

      • ob·scu·ran·tism
        noun \äb-ˈskyu̇r-ən-ˌti-zəm, əb-; ˌäb-skyu̇-ˈran-\
        a style (as in literature or art) characterized by deliberate vagueness or abstruseness

        Which of the following would constitute an example obscurantist polemics?

        A, Computer generated data is “ground truth;”

        B. “Measurement” and “estimate” describe the exact same things.

        C. CO2 always “warms.”

        D. Objection to a carbon tax is disregarding “science?”

        E. Computer models don’t have to be precise, accurate or verified, they just have to be “useful.”

        F. All of the above.

        There is no better way to disguise a progressive agenda than to destroy the language by rendering it meaningless.

      • GaryM, meet StevenM. ;)

        Andrew

      • Bad Andrew,

        Sounds like a meeting of Climatologists Anonymous. ‘Cept only one of us qualifies.

      • Steven Mosher

        Gary you are a confuser

        A, Computer generated data is “ground truth;”

        Wrong. There is no such thing as “ground truth” Computer generated “data” is not a physical observation. It is the result of applying math to physical observations. A simple example : an average is not an observation but is generated from observations by applying math. The output of a weather model is no different. It is a result created by applying math to observations. At the bottom are observations. And here observations can not be strictly separated from theory since all observations rely on theory.

        B. “Measurement” and “estimate” describe the exact same things.

        Wrong. They are not categorically different but they are quantitatively different. The both come with uncertainty and innaccuracy and measurements have very small uncertainities. Measurements also rely on fewer governing asssumtions. So when I measure something with a ruler for example the number of assumptions I have to make is really small ( like rulers dont change length when I am using them. Estimates on the other hand usually carry many more assumptions and much larger uncertainties. But if you are trying to argue that something must be measured to be known, then you are invoking an epistemic standard and that standard is not grounded in any categorical difference.

        C. CO2 always “warms.”

        Not true. The response is logrithmic, and further all we can say is that
        all other things being equal, if you raise C02 the planet will warm. But obviously if you add C02 and shut down the sun it will get cold.

        D. Objection to a carbon tax is disregarding “science?”

        No, objecting to science because you dont like taxes is the problem.
        I dont like taxes. I hate them. But my personal views about taxes dont
        change physics.

        E. Computer models don’t have to be precise, accurate or verified, they just have to be “useful.”

        When you validate a model you validate it against a SPEC. The SPEC tells you how the model should perform. If I spec a model to get the temperature correct within 2 degrees C and it does, then the model is validated. Models are not validated against the truth. They are validated against a spec.
        A spec is written to satisfy the users needs. Users want their model to be useful. The problem with GCMs is not that they havent been validated its rather that they have been developed without a specific USER and specific USE CASE.

      • Steve, Steve, Steve,

        Do you seriously not recognize your own words?

        It’s no fun being sarcastic when the object has such a poor memory of his own polemics.

      • mosh

        Is it another Mosher that has been berating Jim Cripwell for believing that estimate and measurement are different things contrary to your assertions they are the same thing?
        tonyb

      • ‘Obviously, if you add CO2 and shut down the sun it will get cold’. Recognizing that we have a problem is the first step to becoming a ‘lukewarming cooler’.
        =============

      • tonyb,

        All of the above are Mosherisms.

        Here is where he used “ground truth,” (which in the course of discussion I learned was a term of art to describe physical, real world measurements) to describe model generated data.

        https://judithcurry.com/2013/05/24/open-thread-weekend-19/#comment-325796

        He accused me of “disregarding science” in this very thread because I am, shall we say, not very supportive of the arguments made for a carbon tax here.

        The rest are comments he has made here all too often. Yes, including the measurements = estimates comedy of obscurantism with Jim Cripwell and others.

      • I thought moshe’s response was just beautiful; I aspire to such artistry of consistency and memory.
        ============

      • Do that for me, Gary. What fun!
        =============

      • This is a classic example of why progressives are taught since birth NOT to engage in critical analysis – of their own opinions. A man can only handle being shown so much of his own cognitive dissonance at a time.

      • Heh, you hummed a few bars and he had the whole damn tune.
        =========

      • Good grief, I missed this one.

        In replying to my demonstration to Mosher that he is projecting when complaining about obscurantism in the climate debate, he wrote:

        “And here observations can not be strictly separated from theory since all observations rely on theory.”

        Wrap your obscurantist brain around that one for a minute or two. Actually think about what it says.

        Then I dare you not to fall off your chair laughing given the context.

        I swear, if Webster’s were illustrated, Mosh’s pic would be right there with the definition of “obscurantist.” Right between obfuscate and obtuse.

      • “tactics to create confusion”

        Looks like some have worked beautifully on you, Mr. Mosher.

        Andrew

      • David Springer

        @GaryM

        Hilarious. Hoist by his own retard.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Steven Mosher’s position has never been that measurements and estimates are the same thing. His position has been that there is no categorical difference between the two. That is, there is notable overlap between the two.

        Mosher may say a lot of stupid things, but this isn’t one of them. He is right, and you guys are misrepresenting him in order to mock him.

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist, etc.

        “Merchants of Confusion”

        Nice ring to it…and multi-purposed as each side can use it for the other.

      • Brandon Schollenberger,

        “Steven Mosher’s position has never been that measurements and estimates are the same thing. His position has been that there is no categorical difference between the two. That is, there is notable overlap between the two.”

        Here is where I first saw the discussion.

        https://judithcurry.com/2013/04/17/meta-uncertainty-in-the-determination-of-climate-sensitivity/#comment-312807

        You might not have noticed, but the theme of this sub-thread is obscurantism, not stupidity.

        If you read Mosher’s comments there, there is no other way to describe what he did. Jim Cripwell started with a point that estimates of climate sensitivity had been estimated, but not measured.

        Mosher’s response: ” Your position that it hasnt been ‘measured’ rests on two fundamental confusions….”

        In other words, Mosher was denying that the estimates of climate sensitivity were not “measurements.” The use of the term “not categorically different,” while trivially true, was not the point in dispute. Cripwell’s entire point was that measurements are qualitatively different from estimates, and climate sensitivity has not been subjected to that different standard of study.

        Mosher’s obscurantist point was that, for purposes of the debate of the moment, there was no difference between the two. I know he knew the difference between the two. You know he knew it. And his dissertation above proves that he knew it. But rather than cede the point, he obscured it.

        Stay with me here, I know this reading stuff is really complicated. But my point in the comment above had nothing whatsoever to do with the accuracy of Mosher’s understanding of science or math terms. I have never called him stupid. That is his style, not mine. It was his pedantic style of debate I was making fun of.

        What I found so hilarious was his actually accusing others of being obscurantist, without the slightest hint of irony.

        ALL of the examples I listed above would be stupid statements if he believed them. But I never claimed he did. And his response shows quite clearly he fully understands the terms. (Which I never doubted for a second.)

        Compare for example: “There is no such thing as ‘ground truth,’” with “The best approach is of course to use synthetic data where you know ground truth.” Now you tell me how you would describe those two statements coming from the same person.

      • David Springer

        No Brandon it’s all categorically stupid. Some things he says are more stupid than others. Someone once told me I should stand on a corner holding a sign that says “Will Argue For Food”. I know I’m argumentative but Mosher is worse. Semantic nitpickery is his forte and he’ll take you down some unwinnable epistemological rathole most riki tik in order to avoid conceding anything. If he wasn’t so predictable it might be entertaining.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, your description of the referenced comment is wrong. But since you’ve now delved into the mystical world of telepathy to support your claims, I’m not going to pursue the matter.

        I mean, unless I’m allowed to avoid offering logic or reasoning and instead simply dictate you know I’m right. And strip quotes of context to play stupid gotcha games. I don’t think anything would come from us both doing those sort of things, but it could be fun.

        By the way, this stuff isn’t complicated. At all.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I can’t resist making a snide remark. I know nothing will come from petty behavior like this, but you set it up so perfectly:

        If you think reading is complicated, that explains a lot.

      • If you guys don’t quit badgering Steve I will beat you up after school. Choose you out!

      • Brandon Schollenberger,

        If that’s the best snide comment you can come up with, you should leave it to those with more practice.

      • David Springer

        @Tom Fuller

        Take a number. Ben Santer is ahead of you.

      • Steven Mosher,

        Gary you are a confuser

        False. Is fact, GaryM is very clear. On the other hand, you are just blabbering, and applying your motivated reasoning, as is often the case.

      • David Springer

        Blabbering I think is more technically correct but I still prefer to call it babbling.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, I did nothing to indicate that’s the “best” snide comment I could come up with. It’d be easy to come up with a “better” one. I just don’t want to. I don’t like being snide. I usually find it petty, pathetic and a waste of time.

        Snideness is what gives sarcasm a bad name.

      • Mr. Springer I believe you have sounded the death knell for irony. Sigh…

  28. I propose here another tax: A Tax on Food.

    Since food production harms the environment, those nasty food consumers should made to pay for the damage.
    Growing food entails clearing of forests and pasture land, spreading of fertilizers and pesticides, using of polluting machinery etc.

    That would be a just and equitable tax, since everybody eats, and will enable us also to simplify the tax code which is in dire need of reforming.

    It would also help combat other plagues like obesity, overpopulation and over-consumption, and reduce health costs (people would die younger).

    I’m sure Mr. Ed, like a good economist, could find much more good and convincing arguments for a food tax.

    • Not to mention a surtax on child-bearing.

      • Rob Starkey

        A child-bearing tax would be much more defendable as making a positive impact

      • Rob, a positive impact

        Postive, huh?
        By inference, we should eliminate the child dependency deduction on the US Income Tax. To make the scheme revenue neutral, we should reward and subsidize murderers. But these ideas are not new:

        A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick,[1] … written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Swift suggests that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies.[2] This satirical hyperbole mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general.

      • I once intended to go to a massing of poets scheduled to protest state cuts to arts’ funding with a sign saying:

        Tax poets
        Line and rhyme,
        Not poor clock slaves
        For their time.

        but it was cancelled because of a weather scare. I coulda put a climate ditty on the back of the sign.
        ====================

    • Better yet lets establish a global card for each individual that empowers us to limit our oxygen waste. The card will be used for every excess use of oxygen. BBQs, holidays trips, having children, keeping the elderly alive after their productive years when they are ill or no longer able to look after themselves. Camping fires, pets, you get the idea…..:)

  29. Obscurantism: a faith in the obscure.
    Sounds to me like it applies to climate modelers and authors of pal-reviewed, paywalled papers about adjustments to counts of angles on tree-rings.

    Going back to the data and respecting the uncertainty is not a part of obscurantism.

  30. Please don’t mingle the red herring of CO2 “pollution” with other forms of pollution resulting from burning of fossil fuels. Let’s clean up our atmosphere from pollution, but CO2 cannot be a pollutant, the EPA’s mistake on this point notwithstanding. God created this universe requiring humans and animals to create CO2 though the mere act of living and breathing. God created plant life with a requirement for CO2 in the atmosphere to live and grow and to convert CO2 to Oxygen for humans and animal life to breath-in. How then can CO2 be a pollutant? If you don’t believe in God, then just consider that the pristine state of the universe requires a certain level of CO2 to be in the earth’s atmosphere and that the present trace amount is dangerously close to the minimum level that plants need to survive and far-far away from the 5000 ppm NASA upper limit allowed in the International Space Station (ISS) atmosphere or the 8000 ppm upper limit allowed on US Navy submarines.

    And don’t tell me CO2 is a pollutant because it is going to raise the temperature of the planet too high, because this is one of the greatest unproven hoaxes ever perpetrated on the general public by scientists. I am not a “climate denier”. I believe CO2 emissions will have a small but non-harmful effect in raising the global average temperature of the planet less than 2 deg C before we run out of fossil fuels to burn and have to transition to alternative energy sources.

    The effect of doubling CO2 in the atmosphere from the pre-industrial concentration of about 280 ppm can easily be bounded at about 1.6 deg C by analysis of the available HadCrut4 global average temperature anomaly data base since 1850 AD and the measured history of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. If CS is the transient “CO2 Climate Sensitivity” value often referred to by climate scientists as the amount of global average temperature rise due to doubling CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, then the temperature rise as a function of the yearly average CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, CO2(Yr) can be modeled as,

    Delta T = CS*LOG(CO2(Yr)/280)/LOG(2)

    The function

    Delta T = -0.2 + 1.6*LOG(CO2(Yr)/280)/LOG(2)

    provides a “Least Upper Bound” to 96% of the yearly HadCrut4 global average temperature anomaly data points from 1850 – 2012. The 6 yearly data points not bounded are clearly spurrious high values in this data series caused by factors other than CO2. For example, the abnormally high 1998 yearly average HADCrut4 temperature anomaly is not bounded by this function, but was known to have been caused by an extra strong El Nino event that year.

    I believe 1.6 deg C is a Least Upper Bound for transient CS because the bounding curve given above assumes no warming from natural climate cycles (no current natural warming from the Little Ice Age) or effects of solar variation which should lower the 1.6 deg C value even further.

    The failure of main stream climate science to also perform this simple type of analysis based on actual physical data and not lower the IPCC’s published upper bound for equilibrium CS below the outrageous value of 4.5 deg C is IMO scientific malfeasance.

  31. David Springer

    I got a question for you, Ed.

    Should libertarians support the Zimmerman verdict even if they can’t love it?

  32. This is not a libertarian argument.

    The purpose of taxes is to raise money for government services. Taxes should NEVER be used to modify, discourage, or encourage human behavior, that is economic coercion of the worst sort.

    “Carbon tax”. What a brilliant idea for a statist, classifying a necessary element on the period table as a taxable item. Nobody can escape it, nobody can dodge it. You know, if you applied a person’s weight and age against an actuarial table, you could easily tax people for the carbon they exhale.

    Instead of reading Hayek, Ed Dolan should be reading Frederick Bastiat. “Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” Any money raised by a carbon tax is taken out of the pockets of productive people, leaving them with less of the fruits of their own labor. If you’re going to give more money to the government by taxing the sixth element on the period table, why stop there? Bastiat would begin to wonder why not tax every element on the table. Oxygen (it rusts everything), sulfur (smells bad), what the heck, put a luxury tax on gold and silver, a cell phone/blood money tax on tantalum mined in war-torn areas of Africa , but be careful about a tax on niobium – besides being the source of high-end magnets for wind turbines you might start a trade war with China.

    And don’t forget to tax compounds, as well as elements. Water vapor is a much more potent radiative gas than carbon dioxide. If hydrogen cell technology becomes common, what will the water vapor tax look like?

    Bastiat would point out that a carbon tax would create an entire new class of parasites such as custom officials, carbon evaluators, import/export regulators, green czars, green czarinas, as well as providing an excuse for intrusive organs of government such as the EPA or maybe even the NSA to try to find out if you secretly have a wood-burning stove in your ice-fishing shack. After a few years, this would become an entire industry with vested interests such as employees and private contractors demanding a Cabinet-level Department of Carbon, upgraded a decade later into the Department of Elemental Regulation, with more new taxes to pay for that.

    Note that while Dolan states that the point of a carbon tax is to “make the polluter pay” (again, that’s not what taxes are for!), he never once says that the governments new found money from a carbon tax is going to be used to pay for anything except more government. There’s no reason to believe that this would reduce the mislabled “greenhouse” emissions at all. It would raise the cost of everything and give more money to a government that already has too much.

    Ken Morgan, Libertarian Party of Wisconsin

    • While I haven’t been associated with the Libertarian Party since the ’70’s, it always offends me to see somebody claiming to represent it making such a silly argument. But perhaps it’s just ignorant:

      “Carbon tax”. What a brilliant idea for a statist, classifying a necessary element on the period table as a taxable item. Nobody can escape it, nobody can dodge it. You know, if you applied a person’s weight and age against an actuarial table, you could easily tax people for the carbon they exhale.

      In fact, despite abbreviating the name to “carbon tax” this is actually a tax on fossil carbon, that is burned. This is what people actually debating the subject mean by it. It’s easy to avoid: burn carbon based fuels whose carbon was originally taken out of the air by, say, crop plants. It’s not a tax on carbon dumped into the air, it’s a tax on fossil carbon that is dug up out of the ground and dumped into the air.

      I usually don’t bother pointing out such misrepresentation, but when it’s done in the name of the Libertarian Party, I object.

      • Rob Starkey

        And what would be the benefit of such a tax? (other than revenue)

      • And what would be the benefit of such a tax? (other than revenue)

        In a Keynesian sense, It would tilt the playing field in favor of energy sources with less, or no, fossil carbon. Oil over coal, methane over oil and coal. Solar and bio-fuel over methane, oil, and coal.

        Not that I’m in favor of a “carbon tax”, or any solution to the fossil carbon problem that involves raising the price of energy. (See here.) But for that very reason, arguments like this on offend me. With “friends” like this, who needs enemies?

      • Rob Starkey

        AK

        It will result is a lowering of US CO2 emissions and may result in CO2 levels being at 450 ppm instead of 452 ppm in 2060. I understand that, but so what? Does the science tell us that any of the fears related to a warmer planet will be measureably lessened? Was the outcome worth the expense?

      • @Rob Starkey…

        I’m not interested in debating that here. My only interest is to correct the misrepresentation wrt what’s being taxed.

      • Rob Starkey

        And yet it is telling that not a one of the advocates of a fossil fuel tax in the US are willing to define the specific benefits other than revenue.

      • Since I’m not an advocate of a “carbon tax”, I don’t plan on wasting my time with it.

      • AK,

        In fact, despite abbreviating the name to “carbon tax” this is actually a tax on fossil carbon, that is burned.

        No. That is not correct. It is a tax on CO2-eq. It is a tax on the twenty-three Kyoto gasses. They include N2O, SF6, and many other gases.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The EU ets covers about 45% of CO2 emissions – and perhaps in future 6 other Kyoto gases, the Australian tax CO2 (60%) and methane, the BC tax fossil fuels.

      • Chief,

        I think you may have misunderstood what these figures refer to. As I understand it, both the Australian and EU ETS apply to the same 23 Kyotgo gasses that make up ‘CO2-eq’ – i.e. CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6, CFCs CHCs. The EU ETS applies to only 45% of emissions sources and the Australian ETS to 60% of emissions sources. For example, Australia’s ETS exclude transport fuels and GHG emissions from agriculture among others, and is applied to only the top 300 emitters (approximately). EU excluded more emissions sources that Australia.

        Eventually all emissions sources in all countries would have to be included for a global pricing scheme to succeed.

        Imagine aht the compliance cost would be when the global scheme is implemented to the standard that would eventually be required. The ultimate situation can be thought of as having to measure the emissions from every cow, sheep and goat in every country: e.g. Afghanistan, Eretria, Ethiopia, Mogadishu, Somalia.

        The reason full compliance would be required (eventually) is explained by the chart and accompanying text here: http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2013/07/no-gain-and-lots-of-pain-with-the-ets

      • Generalissimo Skippy

        ‘The Carbon Tax will cover a subset of greenhouse gases presently covered by the NGER legislation; comprising carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and perfluorocarbons emitted from aluminium smelting.’

        http://www.sra.com.au/PageFiles/804/White%20Paper%20-%20Carbon%20Tax%20Impacts%20on%20Reporting.pdf

        The EU scheme covers CO2, nitrous oxide and perflourocarbons.

        http://ec.europa.eu/clima/publications/docs/factsheet_ets_2013_en.pdf

        The BC tax covers fossils fuels.

        So I was a little wrong in neglecting NOx and perflourocarbons.

      • Generalissimo Skippy

        I have to stop playing jokes.

      • No. That is not correct. It is a tax on CO2-eq. It is a tax on the twenty-three Kyoto gasses. They include N2O, SF6, and many other gases.

        OK, but that’s nitpicking and I think you know it. My point was that the “carbon tax” doesn’t tax CO2 released into the atmosphere that came from it (recently) in the first place.

      • AK,

        Pointing out that ‘carbon’ tax and ETS are taxes on GHG emissons (23 different gasses) is definitely not nit-picking. It is important to recognise this and keep in front of mind. If the tax on GHG emissions was only on CO2, it would not be a tax on GHG emissions. It would be an even more distorting tax. This is one reason why fuel taxes, like the British Columbia tax on the carbon content of fuels, is not an tax on GHG emissions.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Not willing to correct yourself – continuing to repeat the 23 gas nonsense – – is fraudulent behavior that I don’t find surprising from you Peter.

        I suppose you are still claiming that 28 people died from the Chernobyl meltdown?

      • Chief,

        Not willing to correct yourself – continuing to repeat the 23 gas nonsense – – is fraudulent behavior that I don’t find surprising from you Peter.

        My apologies, there are actually 24, not 23. Is that the error that causes your rant and pejorative comments. They are l.isted on p640 here:
        http://www.climatechange.gov.au/sites/climatechange/files/documents/07_2013/nger-measurement-technical-guidelines-july-2013.pdf

        You really are a dingbat, Chief. I don’t expect you will apologise for totally uncalled for abuse, because I don’t think you even realise your comments are obnoxious.

        I confirm, 28 people died from acute radiation sickness as a result of the Chernobyl accident. http://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/chernobyl/20110423_FAQs_Chernobyl.pdf There were a total of 31 immediate fatalities (i.e fatalities within 30 days of the accident). 2 were killed in the explosion and one died of a hear attack. If you don’t know these figures or don’t accept them then clearly you rely on junk sites, like Greenpeace, for your information. That is the impression I have gained from the few of your comments I bother to read, or begin to read – they usually begin with abuse and pejorative comments so O don’t continue.

      • Chief,

        Not willing to correct yourself – continuing to repeat the 23 gas nonsense – – is fraudulent behavior that I don’t find surprising from you Peter.

        No willing to correct yourself or apologise for your uncalled for rudeness and arrogance, eh?

        Shown to be wrong so you don’t bother to acknowledge your mistake. What do you do instead? Start a new sub-thread. I’ve noticed that is another one of your frequent employed tactics. Is it a sign of intellectual dishonesty? Perhaps. Or is it just a display of narcissism? Probably the latter. You want everyone replying to your comment, right?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      No Peter – I get my information from WHO.

      http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/

      So something like 4,000 deaths and a huge health and trauma burden.

      Although this covers only the highest exposures. Estimates including areas of lower exposure from reputable source I have already linked to are order of magnitude 10’s of thousands of deaths.

      Here’s another one – with some numbers.

      ‘The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates a total collective dose of 600,000 Sieverts over 50 years from Chernobyl fallout. A standard risk estimate from the International Commission on Radiological Protection is 0.05 fatal cancers per Sievert. Multiply those figures and we get an estimated 30,000 fatal cancers.

      A number of studies apply that basic method – based on collective radiation doses and risk estimates – and come up with estimates of the death toll varying from 9000 (in the most contaminated parts of the former Soviet Union) to 93,000 deaths (across Europe).’ http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/56842.html

      So really at p 639 in Appendix whatever we get global warming potentials for gases. So freaking what come to mind.

      ‘The carbon pricing mechanism will cover four of the six greenhouse gases counted under the Kyoto Protocol – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and per fluorocarbon emissions from the aluminium sector. The remaining greenhouse gases counted under the Kyoto Protocol (hydrofluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride) will face an equivalent carbon price, which will be applied through existing synthetic greenhouse gas legislation.’ http://www.cleanenergyfuture.gov.au/clean-energy-future/securing-a-clean-energy-future/#content04

      This is what I said – I think you are a fraud and a fool who cannot back down from obvious error and substitutes abuse and misdirection.

      Greenpeace? I don’t I have ever been to a Greenpeace site in my life. What an utter and pompous twit you are.

      • I love it when people don’t read the articles they post in support of their arguments.

        “So something like 4,000 deaths and a huge health and trauma burden.”

        What the article actually says:

        ” A total of up to 4000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident nearly 20 years ago, an international team of more than 100 scientists has concluded.

        As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident but others who died as late as 2004.”

        Thousands could. 50 have. Sounds like climate science.

      • Chief,

        You continue to display your ignorance. Do you understand the difference between ‘immediate’ and ‘latent’ fatalities? I referred to immediate fatalities. The 4000 is an estimate of latent fatalities.

        Furthermore, it is probably conservative (i.e. high side) and is trivial compared with the latent fatalities that would be produced by fossil fuel generation producing the same amount of power over the same period.

        Chief, you continually display unwarranted arrogance and demonstrate you are a bit of a twit.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘Approximately 1000 on-site reactor staff and emergency workers were heavily exposed to high-level radiation on the first day of the accident; among the more than 200 000 emergency and recovery operation workers exposed during the period from 1986-1987, an estimated 2200 radiation-caused deaths can be expected during their lifetime.

        An estimated five million people currently live in areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine that are contaminated with radionuclides due to the accident; about 100 000 of them live in areas classified in the past by government authorities as areas of “strict control”. The existing “zoning” definitions need to be revisited and relaxed in light of the new findings.

        About 4000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children and adolescents at the time of the accident, have resulted from the accident’s contamination and at least nine children died of thyroid cancer; however the survival rate among such cancer victims, judging from experience in Belarus, has been almost 99%.

        Relocation proved a “deeply traumatic experience” for some 350,000 people moved out of the affected areas. Although 116 000 were moved from the most heavily impacted area immediately after the accident, later relocations did little to reduce radiation exposure.

        Structural elements of the sarcophagus built to contain the damaged reactor have degraded, posing a risk of collapse and the release of radioactive dust;

        A comprehensive plan to dispose of tons of high-level radioactive waste at and around the Chernobyl NPP site, in accordance with current safety standards, has yet to be defined.’

        No freakin problem at all hey Gary?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        We understand how you phased it Peter – utterly ingenuous and misleading

        ‘And notice how biased an irrational is their use of fatalities to beat up their ‘doomsday cause:

        Chernobyl caused 28 immediate fatalities (i.e. died within 30 days of the accident) due to radiation (plus 2 killed in the explosion and one heart attack). Fukushima and Three Mile Island caused no immediate fatalities. yet these accidents are being continually held up by the anti-nuke ‘Progressives’ as reasons why nuclear power is “deadly dangerous”.

        Meanwhile the same number of fatalities (28) caused by the Quebec fossil fuel train derailment gets relatively little mention (compared with nuclear accidents) and will probably be off the radar in a short time.’

        The real death, disease and trauma burden is immensely higher. You have no basis for saying the WHO estimate is conservative – yet you mouth off, ignore the other estimates I linked to, misdirect and obfuscate. 28 is the drop in the bucket of deaths and disease – so you are a liar and a fool.

        You won’t even admit that you got the gases wrong. Pathetic.

      • Chief,

        You are intellectually dishonest. My statements you are arguing about are correct. And the 24 Kyoto GHG gases is correct and I gave you the link.

        You don’t understand anything of the subject matter. I’ve frequently gone through the categorisation of fatalities of major accidents in the energy chain (Fatalities/ severe health effects; Immediate/Latent; occupational/public, fatalities/ work days lost, etc. I can’t do it every time. In this case I was comparing like with like (immediate fatalities from a severe* energy chain accident) and replied in the appropriate figures and said what I’d done.. If you didn’t understand, that just demonstrates you don’t have even the most basic understanding of the subject. (I suspect this probably applies to everything you pontificate about. Your credibility is zero)

        I suggest you get your head around these, or go back to kindergarden and start your education again from the beginning:
        http://www.externe.info/externe_d7/
        http://www.ier.uni-stuttgart.de/forschung/projektwebsites/newext/
        http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html

        * A severe accident is defined as one that causes 5 or more immediate fatalities. The Quebec train accident is one as is Chernobyl. Fukushima and Three Mile Island are not included. Go to the data base of the severe accidents in the energy chain. You can get to it from either of the first two links above.

        BTW, if you can’t make your point in the first sentence of your comments, I wont see it because I cannot be bothered reading your nauseating writing beyond the first line or two.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Idiot – how’s that for a first line.

        I have given you 2 references including a government report of the coverage of the tax. I even self corrected and added two to my list.

        ‘The carbon pricing mechanism will cover four of the six greenhouse gases counted under the Kyoto Protocol – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and per fluorocarbon emissions from the aluminium sector. The remaining greenhouse gases counted under the Kyoto Protocol (hydrofluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride) will face an equivalent carbon price, which will be applied through existing synthetic greenhouse gas legislation.’ http://www.cleanenergyfuture.gov.au/clean-energy-future/securing-a-clean-energy-future/#content04

        So 4 of the 6 Kyoto gases – technically there are chemical species and counting down a list of global warming potential is pretty dumb.

        Per-fluorocarbon applies to aluminium smelters. So that leaves 3 and a bit covered by the tax.

        And again you somehow rationalize away the immense impact of Chernobyl on public health in Europe. 1000’s if not 10 of 10000’s of deaths and not 28.

        And think that you are at all credible? Amazing. The inability to self correct – to deny error – to obfuscate and misdirect in the cause of denying error – is perhaps the most contemptible of anti-intellectual and anti-science bahaviours. You got it bad.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        That’s 10’s of 1000’s…

  33. Everyone understands how much taxes have helped smokers with their health issues, over the past half century.

  34. Lauri Heimonen

    Judith Curry:

    ”If you have looked dispassionately at the relevant science, and you are satisfied, based on the preponderance of evidence, that GHG emissions pose no risk, so be it.”

    Jim Cripwell; https://judithcurry.com/2013/07/15/why-libertarians-should-support-a-carbon-tax/#comment-344367 :

    ”And if we dont accept that “that GHG emissions are a form of harmful pollution”, then this whole article is a waste of time for us to read or discuss.”

    Arno Arrak https://judithcurry.com/2013/07/11/the-forecast-for-2018-is-cloudy/#comment-343276

    ” – – – we have now existed for 34 years without any greenhouse warming.”

    Quota of comment of my own https://judithcurry.com/2013/07/02/climate-risk/#comment-340080 :

    ”The climate risk debated here concerning any global warming believed to be caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions is practically non-existent”

    And further quote of mine:

    ”Because anthropogenic CO2 emissions do not dominate any warming, the only working solution available is adaptation to any kind of natural climate changes experienced to be threatening.

    As to energy policy, there is no role for curtailment of CO2 emissions, because it has been proved to be unworking concerning any control of global warming. There have to be a first priority to protect an availability of competitive energy that is produced cleanly enough.”

    • Lauri Heiomen,

      the only working solution available is adaptation to any kind of natural climate changes experienced to be threatening.

      I strongly disagree. There is an option that would give net benefits including:

      – a trajectory to reduce global GHG emissions from fossil fuels by around 50% over a period of about 50 years (and cut black carbon and other genuine pollutants from fossil fuels combustion as well)

      – cheaper electricity

      – reliable electricity, fit for purpose

      – more secure energy supply for a ll countries (including ability to store decades of fuel for electricity generation very cheaply

      – reduce the cost of transporting fuel and the CO2 emissions from transport by a factor of 20,000;

      – avoid over a million fatalities per year world wide

      For some reason, almost everyone keeps forgetting this option. If you’ve missed it, see here:

      Decarbonising the global economy requires and economically rational approach:
      https://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313509

      Alternative to carbon pricing – Reduce existing market distortions
      https://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313514

  35. Willis Eschenbach

    Max_OK | July 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Reply

    Tom, tax as prepayment for potential risk is nothing new. Consider tax revenues spent on defense as one example.

    Willis Eschenbach | July 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm |

    Max, remember Tom said “provable risk”. The risk from aggressive neighbors is beyond the need for proof, it’s happened throughout history.

    Steven Mosher | July 15, 2013 at 3:46 pm |

    maxok. good one..

    You forgot our aggressive canadian neighbors and mexican neighbors.

    According to willis:
    “The risk from aggressive neighbors is beyond the need for proof, it’s happened throughout history.”

    I love when guys like willis forget that the risk planning we do for the military is predicated on the least likely scenarios. On scenarios that are not rooted or thinly rooted in history.

    History would tell us to prepare for a war with england or japan or germany or mexico or that english colony to the north called canada.
    History would not tell us to prepare for a war with China, but thats precisely why we would plan for one in threat analysis.

    My goodness, Steven, miss the point much? Tom was talking about prepayment for real risks. Max_OK replied, claiming spending on potential risks was nothing new. I replied by pointing out that Tom was discussing real risks, not potential risks.

    Defense spending is based on a very real risk, that one nation will attack another. That’s happened over and over throughout history. We spend based on our appraisal of what risks are the realest. Yes, the military also does “what-if” scenarios that include invading Britain and Canada, and the plans are on file … but we don’t spend money on preparing for invading the great white north …

    Tax as prepayment for a risk which is NOT established by history and has little observational evidence to support it, as Tom points out (and as you obviously missed), is profound stupidity.

    Add to that the fact that energy increases hurt the poor and developing countries the most, and you have a non-starter … except for folks like you and Max_OK, who seem to think that expensive energy is an OK thing …

    Do I have a quotation from you saying “expensive energy is a OK thing”? No. That is a conclusion from your support of the carbon tax in this thread. If I’m wrong let me know.

    w.

    • Willis, if a perceived threat is a “real risk,” you and Tom would be correct, but it isn’t, so you two aren’t.

    • Steven Mosher

      “Defense spending is based on a very real risk, that one nation will attack another. That’s happened over and over throughout history. We spend based on our appraisal of what risks are the realest. ”

      On the contrary. Since i worked as a threat analust during the reagan years I can tell you that the risk we prepared for was the most unrealistic risk we could imagine. It wasnt a real risk it was a phoney risk. It was a risk we dreamed up. I can tell you exactlu how we dreamed up this risk because I worked in the dream works where our job was to dream up unrealistic risks.

      We spent on a risk that didnt exist and could never exist. we spent on risks that were physically impossible. We called this risk the stumbling red giant.
      We created a risk based on thin air, our dream of the worst possible case.
      And then we added two of these dream together to make the risk even more stressing to our system.

      Totally unreal. utterly disconnected from history.

      • David Springer

        I must concede your remarkable ability to dream up unlikely stuff. You da man when it comes to that. You should have stuck with it because you suck at anything to do with reality.

      • Steven Mosher

        Ya, dave
        in 1986 working in advanced design at northrop we defined autonomous forces, basically drones, folks in the airforce said
        it would never happen.

        in 1990 when I was working in VR with Jaron Lanier and augmented reality and explained that this would eventually be a commercial product,
        folks sneered.

        in 1992 I opened up the graphics processors to do physics,, physics on graphics chips.cool dream later on, nvidia would listen to the same dream.

        in 1993 when I argued that 3D graphics could go into the PC and then into phones, people listened.

        in 1995 when I laid out the concepts for Mp3 players and hand held video players and digital picture frames, luckily people listened.

        There is a reason why I was paid to be a VP of emerging technology.
        Of course I wasnt alone in having these ideas. I will note that you were nowhere to be found.. oh ya you were working on batteries and screen savers.. awesome

      • David Springer

        Steve I was working on all that stuff a decade before you were. Here’s an example:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vectrex

        I was working at Western Technologies/Smith Engineering at the time. Scroll on down to the virtual reality glasses for the Vectrex. We had them in the Consumer Electronics Show in 1981 or 1982 I forget which. They were motorized with spinning apertures synchronized to the vector display where we’d alternate images 60 times a second for right eye left eye. I wasn’t specifically on that project but there were only a dozen or so employees at Western Technologies and we were all tight. I worked mostly on a robotics project for Nolan Bushnel shortly after he left Atari and secondarily on the predecessor to the Game Boy.

        In 1988 I founded a company to produce a graphics board built around the Intel 82786 graphics co-processor. The hardware, firmware, and driver software were all mine. I was the first guy to get it working in a commercial product. Intel talked me into consulting for them that year to help Honeywell the Puget Sound area get an upward-looking 3D color sonar working for submarines patrolling under the Arctic ice cap.

        You and the companies you’ve worked for are generall the me-too brigade which takes up technolgies that pioneers have already worked out.

      • David Springer

        I need to thank you for bringing back some memories, Stevie boy. I recalled the name of the guy who introduced me to Jay Smith at Smith Engineering and got me hired there. He did the Atari VCS port of Q*Bert which was a million-seller. I hadn’t spoken to him in 30 years. It too me about an hour of googling to find a lead – a phone number only. I called and it was him. Turns out he went on to invent the Furby right around the time I was getting laptop engineering for Dell ramped up in China circa 1998. We talked for at least an hour catching up on the intervening 30 years. For that I thank you. You’re not completely useless after all.

      • It doesn’t sound like much has changed for you has it, Steven?

  36. Bounding Temperature

    I am going to propose a question. The question is for all of you?
    Read the rest of this and think about it before you answer.

    How can you put ice on Land?

    There is Milankovitch Theory and CO2 Theories and Solar cycle Theories and Ewing and Donn Theory and more. Milankovitch and CO2 seem to dominate most of the debates. Solar Cycle Theories would likely come next.

    You can make earth cold to make ice or you can make ice to make the earth cold.

    Ewing and Donn take water from warm wet oceans and pile it on land and they pile so much ice on land that it advances and cools the Earth.

    Milankovitch makes the Earth cold and then makes the ice grow.

    Here is my question. How does Milankovitch get water from cold frozen oceans to make snow?

    Milankovitch and CO2 seem to dominate most of the debates.

    Radiation cooling has bounded the temperature of the Earth Forever. It works, but the bounds are very large by modern standards. It has no set point.

    Only Water changes state in our comfort zone with a set point. The Polar Ice Cycle developed and tightened the bounds of Earth Temperature.

    Water Vapor and clouds most likely account for ninety some percent of the Radiation Cooling.

    Water was put on earth to regulate temperature and help living things. Water, Water Vapor, Ice, and Clouds, that is: Water, in all of its states, does control the temperature of earth.

    CO2 was put on earth to help a trace amount with the cooling and to help a huge amount with the living things.

    The drift of the continents and the evolution of the ocean currents and the development of the polar ice cycle perfected the bounding of earth temperature. Look at the data from long ago until the most recent ten thousand years.

    The Most Recent Ten Thousand Years has had temperatures bounded within plus and minus two degrees C for all the time. The Most Recent Ten Thousand Years has had temperatures bounded within plus and minus one degrees C for most of the time. We are inside the plus one now and not headed up. What is different that could have caused this?

    The major thing that has changed is the development of the Polar Ice Cycles.

    What else has changed that could have caused the tight bounding of the temperature? There is no forcing with a set point, other than the temperature that water melts and freezes. More greenhouse gas does not suddenly develop a set point. In fact, we have less CO2 now than we have had for millions of years.

    ICE and Water has a set point. When oceans get warm, sea ice melts and Huge Snowfalls Occur. This builds ice volume on land which advances after some many years of snowfall. When the Polar water gets cold and frozen the huge snowfalls stop. The ice volume is like a huge charged capacitor and the ice advance continues, but without snowfall, ice volume starts to decrease immediately. More ice melts every summer than gets replaced. The ice advance continues and runs out of capacity after a good number of years. Clouds are used in this process. When the ice is building it is protected by many clouds. When the ice is being removed, the clouds are not there.

    The experts think the ice volume increases right up to the ice extent max, but it really cannot happen that way. They build ice because something external caused earth to get cold. They take away ice because something external caused earth to get hot. They start taking away the ice when earth is still cold. They don’t have an external forcing that has a set point. Their basic theory cannot work.

    We need the Cycles. We do not have one fixed temperature that can be maintained. We have a cycle with powerful bounds. Ice and Water has a set point and does maintain the bounds.

    Radiation can bound temperature in wide bounds with no set point and the bounds can change a lot with changes in external forcing. This is how earth was. Radiation Bounds have no Fixed Set Point.

    Ice and Water have a fixed set point and the bounds stay the same with large changes in external forcing. This is where we have been for the 800k years of large cycles of ice age and warming. The modern ten thousand year cycle is even more tightly bounded. Earth evolved to this state and it will continue. This is how Earth is now:

    The Sun melts Ice every Summer. The Sun melts Land Ice and Sea Ice every Summer. Snow falls and replaces Land Ice and the cold freezes Sea Ice every Winter. When there is more water exposed in the Summer, it Snows more in the Winter. When there is less water exposed in the Summer, it Snows less in the Winter. This is the SET POINT that puts the tight bounds on Temperature.

    A trace of CO2 cannot kick us out of this modern paradise; it can only help green things grow better using less water.

    Start in a warming phase, such as the past 130 years, since we had thermometers and could measure and record temperature. The land ice has been receding and the oceans have been warming and rising and sea ice has been receding. With the warming of the polar oceans, the snowfall has been increasing. The snow falls on bare ground and on glaciers and ice fields. The snow that falls on bare ground at the edges of ice fields and around the tails of glaciers mostly melts every summer. Much of the snow that falls on glaciers and ice fields becomes multi-year ice. This multi-year ice builds and gains weight and after some years the multi-year ice starts to advance. As the multi-year ice advances, earth cools and the oceans cool. Ice volume is still increasing. At some point the oceans get cold enough and the water freezes and the snowfall stops or greatly reduces and the ice volume stops increasing and starts decreasing. The Piled up ice is still heavy and continues to advance. The Piled up ice gradually runs out of capacity to continue pushing the ice and the advance stops. The cooling stops. The sun has been melting more ice than was replaced, but now the ice starts to recede and the earth starts to warm again. Land ice is receding and the edges of the sea ice start to recede. At this point you can go start at the beginning of his paragraph again, and again.

    Consensus Theory uses orbit parameters and solar cycles and CO2 to make earth colder and then builds ice by letting the snow that fell on bare ground survive the summers and grow the ice at the tails of glaciers and edges of ice fields. There is no evidence that supports this method. The glaciers advance and drop stuff they picked up on the way. They do not develop at the edges and tails. They develop at the tops and then when they are big enough they advance.

    IPCC says they are 97% sure that in the next hundred years or less, Climate will do what it has never done and it will not do what it has always done for the past ten thousand years.

    Alarmist Warnings like this are 99.9% wrong. Look at History.

    • HAP,

      This jumped out at me:

      Earth evolved to this state and it will continue.

      My reaction is: That’s ridiculous. Thew past 10,000 years is effectively just a nano second in geological time. It is ridiculous to say we’ve suddenly evolved to a stable state when we are in a ‘cold house period’ with wild climate swings on 100,000 year cycle and shorter cycles.

      The planet is normally much wsarmer than the present. It seems the climate is less variable when warmer. It seems the ice caps make the climates unstable so we get the wild swings the planet has been experiencing during the coldhouse phases.

      The planet has had not ice caps at either pole for 75% of the past 500 million years. It is in only the third cold hose phase in 550 million years. So we are in an unusually clod period and we have ice caps, which is an unusual situation, and we have wild climate swings in and out of glacial periods.

      Warmer is better, calmer, more stable climate. And far better for life!!!

  37. Let’s assume that CO2 contributions constitute a danger, at the level of IPCC. Said assumption just to simplify the argument.

    Even so, the argument is incomplete, unless the tax is magically applied across the entire world.

    Applying a carbon tax just within the US is futile because the impact on CO2 concentrations will be trivial. CO2 emissions (and jobs and prosperity) will simply move to jurisdictions without the tax.

    This is a problem with most of the anti-CO2 actions proposed for the US – they unfairly penalize US producers, while not significantly affecting the CO2 concentration trajectory.

    • John Moore,

      “This is a problem with most of the anti-CO2 actions proposed for the US – they unfairly penalize US producers, while not significantly affecting the CO2 concentration trajectory.”

      This is not a problem with the proposed “anti-CO2 actions,” it is the point. There is a reason CAGW acolytes don’t spend any time explaining how their policies will affect climate. There is a reason they don’t ever even talk about what to do about the Chinese, Russians, and Indians.

      They don’t care.

      Progressive climate policy is no more about climate than their education policy is about education.

      • Leading to a worldwide shortage of the required: Strategic Sequestration Facilities for Carbon Sinks; where the invisible can become priceless. The world will be watered by a trickle, down economy. Mud brick homes will become hip once more. The earth safe for another 4.5 billion years, so they say. Hump-Day is coming.

      • David Springer

        +1 for Gary and John both.

    • “Even so, the argument is incomplete, unless the tax is magically applied across the entire world.”

      Even if you apply the tax across the entire world it will produce no reduction of emissions. Reduction of emissions will happen when a new technological breakthrough provides us with the means to produce emission free energy in the huge amounts we need.
      A tax is not a technological innovation.

  38. So tiresome. Enough with these. They’re all proceeding from the same unproven premise.

  39. Mr. Dolan’s post relies on two fundamental,premises. To paraphrase for brevity’ sake: One, taxes ( read more broadly government intervention) are only justified where markets manifestly cannot work-e.g. national defense. Two, one such justifiable instance is externalities, one example of which is harmful pollution.
    His argument is that GHG are harmful pollutants, the same stance as the EPA. This is wrong for two reasons. First, CO2 is not a pollutant in any meaningful sense, as there is a natural pre-existing carbon cycle. All animals including humans breathe it out, and plants breathe it in. Second, even if it were, there is no demonstration of present or possible future harm. Even the IPCC agrees that more CO2 plus slight warming under 2C would be beneficial for crops and plants, as been seen already in the greening of the Sahel.
    All that said, a more specific tax on only petroleum, purely designed to raise transportation fuel costs and incent conservation, would be permissable under libertarian principles because markets have no way of pricing in future scarcity until too late to avoid serious economic disruption.

    • David Springer

      There are already taxes specific to transportation fuels. Around $0.60/gallon for gasoline in the US IIRC.

    • Rud Istvan | July 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm |

      Here, a gift: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbQgx_EeZ-Q&list=PL1D530A12BA786C25

      Something a bit more complex to evaluate.

    • “All that said, a more specific tax on only petroleum, purely designed to raise transportation fuel costs and incent conservation, would be permissable under libertarian principles because markets have no way of pricing in future scarcity until too late to avoid serious economic disruption.”

      But same principle could have been made towards taxing the use of horses.

      It assumes an infallible predictive ability of the future.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘‘Whether such instances are of any great or lasting importance, they are certainly not instances where it could be legitimately claimed that technical progress makes central direction inevitable. They would merely make it necessary to choose between gaining a particular advantage by compulsion and not obtaining it–or, in most instances, obtaining it a little later, when further technical advance has overcome the particular difficulties. It is true that in such situations we may have to sacrifice a possible immediate gain as the price of our freedom–but we avoid, on the other hand, the necessity of making future developments dependent upon the knowledge which particular people now possess.’ The Road to Serfdom – F.A. Hayek

      Or imagine they possess. Energy resources are by no means limited at all.

    • Rud Istvan | July 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm |

      .. read more broadly government intervention..

      But what is this? A sophism?

      The government has already intervened. Government fingerprints are all over the fossil sector, from expropriating the private homes of people for pipeline rights of way under Eminent Domain to subsidy to hidden subsidy to accelerated depreciation of non-reducing inventories to government lobbying for private operators as Canadian diplomats and politicians shamelessly do on US soil.

      I’m all for getting government out of this mess as much as possible. Ed Dolan’s all for getting government out of this mess almost as much, and demonstrably far moreso than are you, who has boasted repeatedly of benefitting from ethanol subsidies.

      That some are unwilling to shoulder their equal share of the burden of general funding of the government but glad to see their neighbors pay and pay is appalling hypocrisy; painting correction of that imbalance as government intervention is simply an artful lie.

      But what is more, most of the proposals identified as carbon tax are not, in point of fact, taxes but privatization schemes.

      Privatization being the mechanism by which government gets the hell out of the intervention business.

      And since when do you get to define what is or is not a meaningful pollutant? Were you elected? Do you write dictionaries for a living? Dictionaries that anyone pays any attention to, that is?

      Do you have a medical degree? Ever heard of asthma? Barack Obama has, and the asthmatics of the USA have turned to the president for relief from the harm of CO2 on their condition. That’s documented, scientifically sound, cost accounted harm. That makes it a pollutant, and the EPA’s business.. well, that alone does not make it the EPA’s business: the inaction and paralyses of Congress and Senate make it EPA business, where former pretend libertarians now pretending to be Republicans are aiding and abetting the last thing a true libertarian ought, a bigger more expensive government that does no one any good and intervenes with everyone by just getting in the way and sitting there uselessly.

      And the pre-existence of the carbon cycle as a counter-argument to.. that’s too bizarre a sophism to follow.

      The carbon cycle: scarce, rivalrous, excludable, administrably feasible: for every reason it ought be privatized, and the so-called carbon-taxes with dividends through payrolls to citizens per capita is the best proposal.

  40. Curious George

    Why everybody should support every tax? Sensible or fair .. who cares. A tax is more money for our beloved Government. Mr. Dolan. I propose you voluntarily turn over all your possessions to the Enlightened Government, which will make the most good in the shortest time of it.

    • I love our government. I don’t like people who hate our government.

      • David Springer

        Leeches invariably love their hosts. Tell us something we didn’t already know.

      • Max_OK,

        I’ve heard people using their love of of their Government as an excuse to justify an unreasoning dislike of people before.

        Which Government do you love the most? Federal, State, or local?

        Do you love all the individuals that comprise the Government in question, all the parties that take part, or is it the idea of Government in general that you love?

        Do you love all political parties equally, and if you do, do you bother voting for one, rather than the other?

        What position do you take when a representative of one party exhibits extreme dislike for the actions of an opponent? Do you love that person because they are “part” of the Government, or dislike them because they may be opposing the Government majority?

        Your statement “I love our Government” is about as believable as “GHG’S cause global warming”.

        No definition, no way of measuring, and no detail. Pardon me if I express some cynicism.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • Mike, I like the idea of government in general at all levels. I don’t like the idea of no government. If I did I might consider moving to Somalia.

        I suspect people who dislike government in general are either paranoid ( fear government will hurt them) or are losers who blame government for their failures. They should consider moving to Somalia. I would be glad to see them go.

      • Max_OK,

        You start out “I love our Government.”

        I ask for a little clarification. Amplification, if you wish.

        You decide that you can’t be bothered helping me understand what you mean.

        Now you say you “. . . like the idea of Government in general at all levels . . . “, and imply that anyone who disagrees with you should move to Somalia. Why?

        You seem to have fallen out of love with the idea of “loving” “your” Government, and now decide you “like” Government (generically), generally.

        I assume that wishing all the “dislikers” of “Government” move to Somalia, means that you consider all Somalis are paranoid or losers, otherwise they would obviously have a Government. I am not sure where you get your information from. Just because the US does not have an embassy in Mogadishu, does not mean the Somalis don’t like Government in general.

        You might remember that the local Somalis gave the US a black eye during the First Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. I am guessing you wouldn’t like the Somali Goverment at that time, claiming that it wasn’t really a “Goverment”

        And so it is with the Warmists. Make a sweeping statement. When somebody asks for explanation, revise the statement, hoping nobody notices. Imply that anybody who disagrees with either statement is a loser, paranoid, or otherwise defective. Possibly get in a reference to the Holocaust if you can.

        But I digress.

        You now like the idea of Government at all levels, it appears. Communist Government? Military Government? Taliban Government? Maybe the interim military Government in Egypt, backed by the US?

        Or maybe not. When you marshal your arguments a little more cogently, I can respond appropriately. At the moment, it seems that even you don’t really understand what it is that you mean.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • Mike,

        I have told you what I like and dislike. I do not ask you to understand why, nor do I feel any obligation to justify my likes and dislikes to you.

        If, as I suspect, you are an anti-governmemt ideologue, you and I would not get along.

  41. The “polluter pays” principle is flawed. Ronald Coase’s seminal paper The Problem of Social Cost was concerned with those actions of business firms which have harmful effects on others. Most economists had thought of the question as one in which A inflicts harm on B, and what is to be decided is how A should be restrained. Coase points out that this is wrong – we are dealing with a problem of a reciprocal nature. To avoid the harm to B would be to inflict harm on A. The real question is to avoid the more serious harm, so as to maximise social welfare.

    Coase demonstrated that where parties have conflicting interests which occasion an adverse impact on one party, the most economically efficient outcome will arise from a negotiated outcome. An approach of determining fault, damage and appropriate compensation will generally produce a sub-optimal outcome. When the question of compensation arises, the economic issue is not “Who has been harmed?” but “What arrangement is most efficient from a social perspective?”

    Coase stresses the need to take account of opportunity costs and to compare the returns from a given combination of factors with alternative arrangements. Using the pricing system to allocate resources to their highest value use can leave both parties and society better off, and does so at less cost than alternative systems.

    An optimal arrangement can rarely be achieved by legal processes – the immediate question faced by the courts is not what shall be done by whom (to achieve a socially optimal outcome) but who has the legal right to do what. But whatever the initial legal rights, it is always possible to modify them by market transactions. Of course, the costs of a market transaction are often sufficiently high to prevent many transactions that would be carried out in the absence of such costs – a rearrangement of rights will take place only when it creates more value than the costs involved in bringing it about [FN ].

    Coase notes that in cases where some damage is caused there will almost always be some gain to offset the harm, allowing scope for a negotiated settlement. All social arrangements for dealing with harmful effects of an activity have costs: the problem is one of choosing the most appropriate arrangement. This requires a detailed investigation of the actual results of handling the problem in different ways, using soundly-based economic analysis.

    The message from Coase is that decisions on compensation must have regard for the welfare of society as a whole, and be subject to a net public benefit test.
    [Footnote: In general, economists see great value in measures which reduce transaction costs. This was a particular focus of Coase.]

    The above is a slightly edited extract from my 1999 paper on The Economics of Compensation and its Relevance to Taxi Deregulation. I went on to discuss alternative rules to achieve efficiency and fairness, the purposes of collective action, compensation and economic efficiency – the notion of property, compensation and fairness, and developed a framework for addressing compensation questions; but I’ll stick with Coase for now.

    Coase’s 1960 paper can be downloaded from http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/724810?uid=3737536&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21102463921071

    • Ed, since writing the above I note your argument that Coase’s approach is not practical (or not practical in the US). That’s an empirical question which I can’t address at a general level, although I did address it for the specific issue of deregulating Queensland taxi licences, which were traded as an investment, at about $A300,000 each in the 1990s.

    • Faustino,

      Thank you for this excellent and very informative comment. i reckon most people who read this comment will learn a great deal. In my opinion it is worth:

      + 1,000,000.94

      • Peter Lang,

        You have to stop printing fiat +s with such reckless abandon. The market will crash if readers lose faith in the value of the +. Think of the children.

    • Faustino,

      A point I take from your comment, is that to justify internalising an externality (such as the damages from a pollutant), the benefits to society of internalising that cost must exceed the benefits of doing so.

      In the case of a carbon price, the proponents need to demonstrate that the benefits of imposing it outweigh the costs to society.

      I’d say that has certainly not been done. In fact, I’d say, if adding a carbon price increases the cost of fossil fuels (which obviously it will do) without there being a suitable replacement for fossil fuels, then the benefits to society will be swamped by the costs. This is the case with the Australian ETS to 2050: http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/

      This excellent report explains the massive benefits of cheap abundant energy for both humanity and the environment: http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/humanity-unbound-how-fossil-fuels-saved-humanity-nature-nature-humanity

      • Peter, agreed. Most often “Externality!” is used by people to justify their pet intervention with little or no regard for net benefits and unforeseen consequences on non-market interventions.

        The externality argument is often used, for example, to justify subsidies to R&D and innovation, the case study evidence is that the gains are largely internalised by the innovators and their end-user clients, and that spillovers tend to occur mainly through informal mechanisms – part of the rationale for clusters like Silicon Valley. As Coase said, “choosing the most appropriate arrangement … requires a detailed investigation of the actual results of handling the problem in different ways, using soundly-based economic analysis.”

        One Commonwealth scheme which heavily subsidised R&D contributed more than one-fifth of total spending, nominal R&D spending increased by 11%, much of it apparently from firms redefining what they did as R&D. The Industry Commission/Productivity Commission have been so valuable because they dig deeply into the relationships involved, a la Coase, one reason that the ALP government has ignored or shackled the PC.

      • Plus one ter you
        fer this report
        en cap-sul- lay – tin’
        how – vul – ner -able
        – hu -man -it – tee
        man -aged – ter
        lift – itself – by –
        its -boot -straps
        outta’ the forty
        thousand years
        when exist – ence
        wus – nasty, short
        ‘an’ – yer – betta –
        do – it -be -fore
        the age of thirty
        because yer un –
        likely ter git
        a second bite
        at the cherry. ‘
        B – t -s

  42. “There is no way that a good libertarian could love a carbon tax, or any tax, for that matter. Classical liberal principles hold that the state should play a role in economic affairs only when there are problems the cannot feasibly be handled in the private sector. Even those who support a role for the state in, say, criminal justice or national defense, do so only reluctantly. They secretly pine for a libertarian utopia like that in Robert Henlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where even those functions were the responsibility of the marketplace.”

    Kind of correct. But libertarian utopia involves local control. They like marketplace, because consumers have choices- they can choose to buy something or choose not to buy something. They would favor taxes if taxes
    didn’t have the force of the State requiring tax payment. But realize that even if federal tax start as a “donation” the pattern of the State will evolve
    such laws so IRS becomes beyond the law itself, and according to the law
    can seize one’s property based upon a bureaucratic decision.
    So they have faith in a free marketplace, and not the marketplace that has laws which require payment to sing the song Happy Birthday. So not a marketplace with such things copyright laws becoming oppressive.

  43. Ed Dolan

    You have fallen into a basic logic trap with your arguments for a carbon tax.

    You state that polluters should pay.

    This is correct.

    But it only applies to all cases involving real pollution, which is harmful to human health or our environment (black carbon, heavy metals, NOx, CO, smog producing hydrocarbons, etc.)

    It does not apply for CO2, a naturally occurring trace gas, which is harmless to animals (including humans) and essential for all plant life.

    The argument that CO2 is a pollutant is flawed, as there is no empirical evidence to support that CO2 emissions pose a perceptible risk to humanity.

    So enact a “black carbon tax”, a “heavy metals tax”, a “NOx tax”, a “carbon monoxide tax”, a “smog producing hydrocarbons tax”, etc.

    But forget about a CO2 tax. It’s a silly idea.

    Max

  44. The word ‘pollute’ has a whole spectrum of meanimgs. It is sneaky at least to apply it to ab invisible odourless gas that is an essential plant food and essential to life on earth and obe which we all exhale with every breathe.. Why not just call it carbon dioxide? ‘Greenhouse’ is not a suitable descriptor because it has none of the physical properties of a greenhouse.

    It is alleged that carbon dioxide (CO2) has a vociferous apper\tite for heat, which may be true, but there is no unanimaty among scierntists as to why. Logic tells us that it must result from the vibrational modes and not the kinetic mode of the CO2 molecule. That this has not been resolved is a pall hangimg over the science. In the meantime it has been picked up by politicians like Al Gore and resolved in their favour.

    ‘Mere uncertainty is not enough. Some aspects of climate science are almost universally accepted, for example, that concentrations of GHG in the atmosphere influence the climate and that human activity has affected concentrations of GHG.’

    This is a tenuous argument presented as fact. The only relevant evidence of this is what happened between 1910 and 1940, whigh the IPCC mostly ignores.. The protaganist scientists continue to ignore the ‘pause’ between 1940 and 1970 as well as the current 14 year pause.and present no convincing arguments that pauses could be more common in the future. The most recent science, quantum mechanics, suggests a reason for the pauses
    but they continue to ignore that.

  45. “He was not writing specifically about climate change…” No, Hayek wasn’t, was he?

    Is Hayek the next Burke or Orwell, the guy everyone can squeeze for some cred? What about the well circulated article a few years back that argued that Burke was a conservative, therefore interested in conserving things, therefore he was pro organic food. (The author even admitted that Burke just ate stuff and never talked about food…but what the hell.) Or what about the way the Posh Left have embraced Adam Smith? Why, there’s not a single piece of regulatory madness that isn’t dressed up smartly as a “market-based mechanism” these days.

    Ed should stop poncing around in borrowed robes and just tell us that Ed loves a carbon tax.

  46. “The polluter should pay

    To begin, the principle that the polluter should pay has long been a part of libertarian theory. In his 1962 classic, Man, Economy, and State, Murray Rothbard expressed it this way:

    In so far as the outpouring of smoke by factories pollutes the air and damages the persons and property of others, it is an invasive act. . . . Air pollution is not an example of a defect in a system of absolute property rights, but of failure on the part of the government to preserve property rights.”

    But is hardly libertarian idea to outlaw farting.

    Libertarian opposes someone upstream polluting the river water of those
    downstream. As Libertarian are against a State forcing someone to pay taxes [depriving them of property by force]. But would more against one citizen requiring others to pay taxes. And polluting or consuming entire river
    is depriving those downstream of their rights to have and use a river and it’s resources- depriving them of their property.
    But only if person in different State [realize all US states are essentially a different state] should such polluting be something resolved by federal government. A federal government would essentially function to resolve
    a “international matter”. Which does not mean the federal government would impose it’s will, but only when States involved refuse to resolve the issue, would one attempt or consider the possibility to resolve by Federal power.
    Anyhow, CO2 is no more a pollution than Oxygen or nitrogen production is a pollution. CO2 is inherent to natural environment, trees make CO2.
    The very ground and ocean absorbs and emits CO2
    It’s like if river were to get too much water from rainfall upstream.
    The whole point point of polluting a upstream river water is parties downstream are having rights deprived, and have right to defend themselves from such theft. It involves deliberate action to deprive one of something. It’s a matter that one does want a continuation of the robbery.
    Everyone along a river has some right to use some of the water, so it million people above the stream are taking some water, you one could expect the possibility that river is dry by time it gets to your property.
    Forcing the million people to use less water is not a libertarian concept-
    instead it only applies if there is excessive use. It involves reason and negotiation- it’s matter of governance, in terms of what is fair and reasonable use of the river.

  47. One can easily make the point that increasing levels of CO2 create a benefit, rather than depriving anyone of anything.
    If there were a case that one should tax someone for emitting CO2, due to some harm caused, then one could make the case, everyone owes payment to a CO2 emitter, for the benefit [if doesn’t cause harm, but instead creates benefit].

    So increasing CO2 levels, have increased the growth rate of plants- wildlife, and crops. Grower of plants in commercial greenhouses add CO2
    in order to increase CO2 in the air. This costs money to add the CO2 to greenhouse.
    So crops not in greenhouses benefit from a general increase in CO2- CO2 emitter are providing a benefit.
    Though it would unreasonable to have farmers pay for the increased level
    of CO2 which increases the crop yields. And it’s as unreasonable to charge a CO2 emitter for any increase of global CO2.

    And in general, it seems beyond a hopeless expectation for libertarians to be supportive of a scheme of totalitarians bent on imposing an insane totalitarian global governance.

  48. Why are you pushing this insane tax on “carbon?” Carbon dioxide is not causing any warming today nor has it done so for the last 15 years as even Pachauri of the IPCC has admitted. In case you haven’t noticed, there is more carbon dioxide in the air now than ever before and yet there is no sign of that alleged greenhouse warming it is supposed to produce. We are looking at a natural experiment set up by forces of nature that demonstrates its inability to warm the world. And I guarantee that it did not suddenly lose its ability 15 years ago but never actually caused any warming. The absence of greenhouse warming also follows from Ferenc Miskolczi’s theory of saturated greenhouse warming. But you don’t need his theory to come to the same conclusion by using simple physics. Laws of physics require that in order to start a greenhouse warming you must put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at the exact same time. That is because the absorptivity of carbon dioxide in the infrared is a property of the gas and cannot be changed. If you want more absorption to increase warming you must put more absorbing molecules into the atmosphere. There were three occasions within the last 100 years when warming suddenly started. The first one was the early century warming which started in 1910 and stopped with WWII cooling. It raised global temperature by half a degree Celsius. The second one was in 1976 and was called the Great Pacific Climate Shift. It raised global temperature by 0.2 degrees and was finished by 1980. The third one was a step warming that accompanied the super El Nino of 1998. It raised global temperature by a third of a degree Celsius and then stopped. And this is it for the whole century. The only thing you need now is the Keeling curve and its extensions to determine what kind of warming it was. It turns out that none of these three episodes are greenhouse warming episodes because there was no increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide when they started. The Keeling curve and its extension are just featureless at these three critical temperature values. It is really hard for me to understand why any rational person can fall for the mindless destruction of civilized life in the name of saving the world from a non-existent danger. If Climategate did not teach you anything, here is one way you never heard of that was used to cheat us into believing in the global warming scam. In the eighties and nineties all ground-based temperature curves were showing a “late twentieth century warming.” I compared it to satellite temperature curves and found that it simply did not exist. I complained about it in my book and demanded an investigation when the book came out in 2010. Nothing happened until last fall when GISTEMP, HadCRUT and NCDC suddenly decided to
    give up that phony warming and align their data for the eighties and nineties with satellites. I consider this concerted action tantamount to an admission that they knew the warming was fake. In the meantime, while it was official, it was referred to by people writing articles as proof of the existence of man-made warming because no one could find a natural cause for it. Man-made all right, cooked up in the back rooms of guardians of temperature. It is a scientific fraud and it is not sufficient to simply change the record without telling anyone about it and expecting to get away with it. But such is the character of people involved with the global warming enterprise that you are supporting.

  49. Chief Hydrologist

    mosomoso | July 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Reply

    “He was not writing specifically about climate change…” No, Hayek wasn’t, was he?

    Is Hayek the next Burke or Orwell, the guy everyone can squeeze for some cred?

    ‘‘Whether such instances are of any great or lasting importance, they are certainly not instances where it could be legitimately claimed that technical progress makes central direction inevitable. They would merely make it necessary to choose between gaining a particular advantage by compulsion and not obtaining it–or, in most instances, obtaining it a little later, when further technical advance has overcome the particular difficulties. It is true that in such situations we may have to sacrifice a possible immediate gain as the price of our freedom–but we avoid, on the other hand, the necessity of making future developments dependent upon the knowledge which particular people now possess.’ The Road to Serfdom – F.A. Hayek

    Or imagine they possess as the case may be. It is difficult to imagine that Hayek would actually be in favour of a carbon tax. If we can avoid compulsion from either the left or right – it is very likely the problem will solve itself. We could help it along a little – but that entails getting a little too pragmatic.

    http://thebreakthrough.org/archive/climate_pragmatism_innovation

  50. Omg, one of the worst taxes. Ever. Increases the cost of everything, and on top of that punishes the “Greening of the Planet” by raising CO2 concentration!! Advocates would be boiled in oil if there were any justice, poetic or other.

  51. Generalissimo Skippy

    I thought I was a libertarian – but I just got it mixed up with libertine.

  52. Jennifer Marohasy has a new thread explaining the policy approach Professor Bob Carter is suggesting the Australian Opposition should offer to the electorate at the coming federal election. Many Climate Etc. contributors would support Bob Carter’s recommendations. the thread is here: http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/07/how-abbott-must-recast-coalition-climate-policy/

    I posted this comment:

    I agree with Bob Carter:

    “Pursuing expensive and futile schemes to combat the speculative, and quite possibly illusory, risks of human-induced global warming is both pointless and wealth-sapping. Instead any sensible national climate policy must primarily address the well known risks of natural climate events and change.”

    I agree with Jennifer Marohasy:

    The best thing [Opposition Leader, Tony] Abbot could do in response would be to scrap his proposed Direction Action Plan and come up with a proper plan to address the very real climate-related risks …

    However, I understand that it is a political solution to address the concerns of the very many people who are not listening to anything anyone says but “just want the government to do something to fix the climate problem.” The advantages of the LNP’s ‘Direct Action’ policy are 1) the costs are limited, 2) it can be easily adjusted or stopped, 3) we are not committed to high cost policies that probably will achieve nothing and will be orphaned when it becomes even more clear the world is not going to implement carbon pricing, 4) we are not outsourcing control of Australia’s economy to Brussels. In contrast, costs of the ETS are huge ($1.35 trillion (undiscounted), $400 billion discounted to 2050, ref.
    “What the carbon tax and ETS wsill really cost”
    http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/

    The ETS will be tied to the EU ETS and this outsources significant control of our cost of energy to Brussels.

    The ETS is highly inflexible. It cannot be changed easily when the evidence about the effects of GHG emisisons change. It cannot be easily adjusted or stopped.

    • Marohasy & Carter both talk a lot of sense. Abbott is a bit of a worry on several fronts, including this one, his commitment to/understanding of good policy often seems limited, and he seems to plan a “softly, softly” campaign and first term. If you don’t pursue serious change early, you probably never will.

      • Faustino, I sort of agree, but perhaps not 97% consensus on this one. I think you and Jennifer Marohasy are ganging up on me. I’ve just posted a reply to here http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/07/how-abbott-must-recast-coalition-climate-policy/?cp=all#comment-529316 to her reply to my earlier comment. Her comment is here: http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/07/how-abbott-must-recast-coalition-climate-policy/?cp=all#comment-529308

      • My main point is Oppositions cannot govern and it is unwise to try to present detailed policies from opposition. First you have to win government and then educate the voters by conducting studies and enquiries run by Productivity Commission and other authoritative groups. Make the information available in policy documents. Bring the people up to speed. Oppositions can’t do that. Oppositions don’t win elections. Government’s lose elections. So the Oppositions focus must be in holding the government to account for bad policy and/or bad implementation – and exposing the incompetence of the government.

      • Peter, I’m astonished by Jennifer’s comment that “I have more respect for someone like Rudd, who is at least honest to what he believes in.” I can’t imagine what her basis for that statement is.

      • Faustino,

        Wow, I am surprised by Jennifer Marohasy making that statement too. I haven’t read the comments on the thread, so hadn’t seen that until you pointed out.

        Faustino, I’d love to see your suggestions to answer her question: http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/07/how-abbott-must-recast-coalition-climate-policy/?cp=all#comment-529319

        … would like to outline the type of “high level, broad brush” policy you think could be adopted by the Coalition

      • Faustino or Peter, you might send Jennifer Marohasy
        Henry Ergas’ article in The Australian, ‘Kevin Rudd’s
        Real Record as Pm speaks for itself.’
        Bts

      • Hi Beth,

        Could I urge you to post it in full. It’;s an opportunity for another person, you, to get involved in educating those who are listening. Jennifer used to have an intelligent, interested and open minded readership. Unfortunately, I think The Conversation has an agenda to try to denigrate her web site and send its dummy contributors to spam it. I’ve never seen the spam comments before, but haven’;t been to her site for a year or so (she took a long leave from running the web site, and this is the first time I’ve been back since then).

  53. “We are focusing on insignificant—but very costly—green policies that make us feel good, while ignoring or actively discouraging policies that would dramatically reduce emissions and make economic sense.”

    Lomberg in Slate. Since the irrational approach to CO2 is the only policy choice that requires a carbon tax, Libertarians are likely to argue for a rational approach instead. Libertarians are funny that way, they cannot stand arbitrary, pointless, self defeating regulation. They really hate the taxes used to support such a scheme.
    Link to story- http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/project_syndicate/2013/07/fracking_britain_should_tap_its_shale_gas_field.html?wpisrc=flyouts

  54. Steven Mosher | July 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    @@@@@

    B. “Measurement” and “estimate” describe the exact same things.
    Wrong. They are not categorically different but they are quantitatively different. The both come with uncertainty and innaccuracy and measurements have very small uncertainities. Measurements also rely on fewer governing asssumtions. So when I measure something with a ruler for example the number of assumptions I have to make is really small ( like rulers dont change length when I am using them. Estimates on the other hand usually carry many more assumptions and much larger uncertainties. But if you are trying to argue that something must be measured to be known, then you are invoking an epistemic standard and that standard is not grounded in any categorical difference.
    @@@@@

    I am not going to debate this issue any more. What Steven has written is just plain garbage. Just, in the future, should I write any posts on this issue, it will on the basis of what Physics 101 teaches as to how things are measured. If Steven wants to object, sobeit. I will not join in the discussion.

  55. tempterrain

    Ed Dolan,

    I wouldn’t entirely agree with your analysis. There should fundamentally be no difference in attitudes towards the tax, albeit for different reasons, between progressives/socialists, conservatives and libertarians.

    The carbon tax is regressive. So we, if I’m allowed to speak for the former group, don’t love it. But we do see the need for it , and therefore support it, or, perhaps, a Cap and Trade alternative.

    Nevertheless, I’d like to congratulate you on a very intelligent series of articles.

  56. The problem with a “Carbon Tax” on CO2 (as a pollutant) is that CO2 is not, in fact, a pollutant. However, Ed Dolan is correct in one respect: labeling CO2 as a “pollutant” is, in fact, science fiction.
    The sloppily-written Clean Air Act gave the EPA the power to declare CO2 a “pollutant” by fiat.

    • Justice Stevens. “MASSACHUSETTS ET AL. V. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ET AL.,” April 2, 2007. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/06pdf/05-1120.pdf

      Page 04, 05 (Syllabus): #3. Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Act’s capacious definition of “air pollutant,” EPA has statutory authority to regulate emission of such gases from new motor vehicles. That definition— which includes “any air pollution agent . . . , including any physical,chemical, . . . substance . . . emitted into . . . the ambient air . . . ,” §7602(g) (emphasis added)—embraces all airborne compounds of whatever stripe.

      …”EPA identifies nothing suggesting that Congress meant to curtail EPA’s power to treat greenhouse gases as air pollutants.

      Page 05 (Syllabus): #4. On remand, EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute. Pp. 30–32.