Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Case for Carbon Culpability

The ongoing slow motion self destruction of the warmist arguments for catastrophic anthropogenic global warming has hopefully saved the United States from a disastrous "cap and trade" bill. The most recent revelations from Professor Phil would be hilarious if they had not caused the waste of so many resources already. Hopefully some real climate science can now get done, so we have a workable theory of how and by how much CO2 is changing the climate.

In the meantime, we should still consider that burning fossil fuels might not be in our long term best interests. First, and foremost, the demand for oil has a tendency to enrich despots the world over; Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela make the list of top ten oil producing nations. Interestingly, so does the United States, but it is not near as important to our economies than those other nations listed because our overall GDP is so much higher.

Second, burning fossil fuels is associated with air pollution and is the primary cause of air pollution. Air pollution is a factor in increased mortality in the United States, and presumably other countries. It would seem prudent to move away from sources of energy that increase the presence of particulate and noxious chemicals in the air.

Finally, there is still a good chance that we are impacting the global climate. Catastrophically? Probably not, but let's not forget that economic dislocations caused by the effects of global warming would still be painful and cause localized hardship at a minimum.

So why am I opposed to "cap and trade?" The experience in Europe with massive fraud and the heavy give-aways in the current bill in Congress persuade me that "cap and trade" will do nothing but transfer wealth to favored or criminal groups. I want to curb carbon emissions in a way that does not harm the economy. The only way that will work is a slow phase in of a carbon tax, coupled with reductions in the income tax, either by rate decreases or rebates. The Carbon Tax Center has some decent economic arguments about how such a tax could be implemented in a revenue neutral way to prevent bankrupting the economy. The only piece they miss is the need for a global tax, because air pollution is a global problem. See study on Chinese air pollution reaching Los Angeles (how ironic).


  1. It seemed that not too long ago, I was making the argument our demand for foreign oil was enriching our enemies. You seemed to disagree, but your "first and foremost" argument supports that point, or am misreading you?

  2. 'Dawg, a global carbon tax which reduces revenue to oil rich nations is different from increasing domestic production, which doesn't do very much to reduce the despot's revenue. This is because the decrease in revenue that accrues to domestic production increases only affects their revenue to the extent that it has an impact on global supply. However, if we get the entire world to use less oil, even if only slightly, this has huge impact to revenue.

  3. Wouldn't our increased supply also drive down the despot's revinue, along with producing private sector jobs and decreasing our contribution to our enemy's revinue?

    Of course for the sake of the argument, take the whole polution/ carbon/ AGW thing off the table. I know the above argument may not be valid if we want to pollute less, but just as an economic and security issue, doesn't it make sense?

  4. If the United States was sitting on reserves that are vast enough to alter the dynamics of global oil output, then drilling in the U.S. would have an impact. Unfortunately, we do not have such reserves. We should still allow drilling, because the free market is in fact smarter than I am. Just don't count on it to make a difference in the oil revenues of the Saudis.

  5. That was an awesome post. Worthy of a link!