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"Don't Freak Out"

Some advice for John McCain, from Bjorn Lomborg.

I expect the ad hominem attacks on Mr. Lomborg to commence shortly.



Bob Hawkins wrote:

Lomborg is very sneaky. He not only accepts the IPCC version of global warming, he takes it seriously. He points out that, if you believe the IPCC, then the Kyoto Treaty will have no detectable effect. In fact, any human action to reduce global warming will be so cost ineffective, you'd be better off spending the resources on almost any other problem.

You can see why you have to use ad hominem attacks on a snake like that.

mz wrote:
He has a long history of misrepresenting environmental issues.

Still, Lomborg's position is orders of magnitude more defensible than many others (Monckton, Chapman, Cockburn etc that Rand links to), since he takes anthropogenic global warming science seriously.

Some discussion might be possible here. If someone thinks AGW is a hoax, what use is there to talk about mitigation then? None.

It seems he says the government should spend more money on carbon-free energy research, instead of the free market way of setting a price on CO2 emissions and letting the market figure it out.

It's a possible approach. Maybe not so libertarian.

I know of one reasonably practical, reasonably sustainable and scalable and reasonably swift carbon-lean energy generation method, which probably requires government money for research: the thorium liquid fluoride reactor.

Leland wrote:

instead of the free market way of setting a price on CO2 emissions and letting the market figure it out.

I think the free market has set the price long ago, so I suspect you are really referring to a market that is something other than free.

mz wrote:

Yeah, of course, that part is not "free". It can be done with emission caps for example. The free market doesn't usually set any cost on any pollution or any other similar effects where there are external costs. If people only relied on free markets for legislation, there would be no waste water cleaning.

After setting the price, the rest is free market. Ideally, nobody would be mandating solar cells or nuclear plants etc, people and companies can do that if they find it cost effective in the light of some cost of carbon emissions.
The government could not be as efficient as the free market in finding those ways. Tt would suck and lead to inefficiencies if the government would legislate everyone must have one square meter of solar cells, with complex caveats and loopholes.

Sulfur emissions trading was predicted as a catastrophe too, but the market found cheaper ways to reduce total emissions than probably would have been possible by legislating individual sources... But without the trading, the reductions would not have happened. There needed to be a price for those externalities.

Sigivald wrote:

mz: Why aren't normal nuclear reactors or pebble-bed reactors a "reasonably practical, reasonably sustainable and scalable and reasonably swift carbon-lean energy generation method"?

They're eminently practical, quite scalable, very swift indeed (since they're not new technology), and more than "reasonably" sustainable.

I suspect that you're using one or more of the terms in there in a way that would not be subject to ready agreement.

(And you're completely wrong about the free market - in an unsurprising way, since misinformation about it abounds, especially in Green-land.

"Free market" means only that the state does not interfere with the process of price determination.

It does not mean that there can't be pricing of externalities, taken as a property rights issue. You might ask libertarian theorists about the issue, since they've only been talking about the property rights inherent in externalities and pollution for decades now.

Perhaps the problem is that you assume the State must be the entity to set prices, rather than those with the property interests harmed by the external costs?

Well, that and the assumption that CO2 needs to be capped at all, but I figure any complaints about that will be a waste of time.)

Bill Maron wrote:

"If people only relied on free markets for legislation, there would be no waste water cleaning."

You can prove this how?

mz wrote:

Since the sea is nobody's property, you can pollute it at will, if you only rely on property right mechanisms in pollution prevention. Or some drinking water. Or the air with some pollutants.

Sorry, but the property rights as a solution for everything is just too simplistic. In many cases it is an efficient way of doing something. But not always.

Perhaps in an ideal theoretical model where everything was owned and billed, even nature's services. Then that would actually also include CO2 trade, and carbon sinks producing money (for some forest owners) and all that. Hard questions like how you divide the atmosphere for ownership.

In a space station it could work. Heinlein had people paying for the air they breathe.

I think it also would be very impractical to solve all pollution cases with lawsuits about loss of property, and after the stuff happens. Often it's hard to exactly calculate who is at fault. One would have to sue a million car drivers for something like smog in a big city. Can you do this before it happens? What about international cases? You would have to have some pact trying to settle the thing, that either reduced the pollution or paid compensation from the polluters to the sufferers (the latter tends to cause the former).

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on May 14, 2008 12:11 PM.

Time To Give It Up was the previous entry in this blog.

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