Daily Archives: March 24, 2008

Reason for pessimism

Economist Tyler Cowen thinks all this global warming business is going to be a lot tougher to sort out than some people are letting on:

Chinese CO2 emissions are much worse than we had thought, China resists outside pressure, Chinese governance is often of very poor quality, China is currently subsidizing energy consumption, China thinks it is our problem to solve, China won’t automatically keep on becoming prosperous, the super eco-conscious Europeans in fact haven’t made much of a dent in the problem in terms of percentage change, the U.S. has done better on carbon emissions than most of the Kyoto signatories, the price of oil rose fivefold in a relatively short period of time without much helping, a gradual increase in carbon taxes (in a Hotelling model) can lead to more extraction today thus worsening the problem, and if the rich countries massively cut their carbon consumption the prices of coal and oil would plummet and the incentive for someone to buy and smoke the stuff will be all that much stronger.  Valuable stuff in the ground tends to be dug up and used.  And by the way, curing the ozone problem was easy and even a “simple” international organization such as WTO gets tied up in gridlock.

Did I mention that some of the world’s nations might even benefit from global warming, most of all Russia, and thus they might wish to sabotage various partial solutions and that Russia holds a permanent seat on the Security Council of the UN?  And that geo-engineering is massively risky and might be considered by some countries to be an act of war?
That’s not even all the arguments I can think of.  And no, they are not arguments for ignoring the problem but they are arguments against optimism.