Friday, December 11, 2015

Not All or None


Agreed, it's not all or none and yet you and I too often create a straw man all-or-none scenario. When you do it, I get angry and go silent for a few days, or respond with something particularly snotty.

If I understand your position, you view the risks of uncontrolled CO2 emissions as more dire than I do. In your view, if we do nothing, temperatures rise, weather is extreme and people's lives become intolerable at some point in the future, let's call it 2050. Doing something, however, will harm current generations with lower living standards. Not to the level of the Middle Ages, but lower than they would be. In essence you are making today's generation pay a subsidy to the next generation. Social Security in reverse.

But I think doing nothing is a perfectly viable option. China and India and Africa will industrialize lifting billions of people out of poverty. As they  become wealthier they will value air quality and shift from coal to natural gas or nuclear, as we did. This will lower SOx, NOx PM25 and carbon emissions faster and more permanently than any government dictated option. Maybe temperatures rise, maybe weather becomes more extreme, but if so we'll be richer and more capable of mitigating that harm.

A moderate carbon tax, which I assume you favor, or a do nothing approach seems reasonable to me. What I can't see is the far reaching policy of substituting wind, solar, and biomas for coal, oil and natural gas. I think that's delusional.


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