Friday, April 03, 2009

Can you say, "Positive Feedback?"

Now here's a new idea from Todd Wynn of Oregon's right-wing Cascade Policy Institute: we can't cut back on carbon-producing energy production because we're going to need that energy to deal with the climate change caused by carbon-producing energy production:
...politicians frequently introduce bills that declare an emergency and attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing energy costs through a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade program, or by eliminating access to reliable and affordable sources of energy. These policies are the wrong solution to helping Oregonians with future changes in global climate and may greatly disadvantage Oregon if changes in climate were to occur.
I think even my young nephew can figure out what's wrong with the argument.



Todd said...


A fairly recent EcoNorthwest study assessed the cost of inaction to climate change. The study states, "If nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Oregon will face some $3.3 billion in annual costs, which could translate to an individual tab of about 4 percent of annual household income by 2020.”

First I will have to set aside the blatant double counting of costs and utter neglect/disregard of the possibility of human adaptation. Even assuming the scare scenarios and drastic cost increases are correct, there is no discussion of whether reducing greenhouse gases in Oregon will have any effect on global temperatures!

The truth is a cap and trade/carbon tax/hard cap on a state, regional, or country wide basis will have no discernable influence on climate whatsoever.

Thus assuming these costs due to global warming actually come about (which I would debate) you can tack on the costs of using more expensive unreliable energy and placing carbon taxes or caps on our businesses and industry. This would be costs upon costs for no benefit as far as reduced global temperatures are concerned.

I understand the idea of enduring short term costs in order to reap the long term ‘benefit’ of reduced global temperatures. But if the plan to reduce GHGs does nothing to turn down the global thermostat then all we did is initiate a very expensive policy that adds to the possible costs from global warming in the future.

I understand that you may very well be an idealist and I respect that but you need a dose of reality. The entire world is not going to agree to emissions reductions and if they do it is quite an assumption to think that all of the nations in the world will actually reach the reduction goals.

I am all for an environmental goal and plan of action that has benefits that outweigh costs (i.e. makes rational sense). I cannot agree with a ‘plan’ that reduces our capacity to cope with possible shifts in climate whether those are natural or manmade and does nothing to mitigate the possible damages from global warming.

Todd said...


I also wanted to address the "right wing" organization comment.

As seen on our website:

"Founded in 1991, Cascade Policy Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research and educational organization that focuses on state and local issues in Oregon."

"As a policy research organization, Cascade necessarily examines many issues that one day will be decided at the ballot box or in the legislature. That said, the Institute focuses on ideas, not politics. Cascade is independent; it is not affiliated with any political party or organization."