November 06, 2008
CONSENSUS WATCH – 11/06/2008
An ongoing series dedicated to vigorously monitoring emerging threats to The Consensus that global warming is real, caused by humans, and must be addressed immediately. Because without consensus, scientific conclusions would remain vulnerable to new data.
Carefully vetted research can certainly be helpful when it comes to science, but in order to truly establish the validity of a hypothesis so that it holds up under rigorous independent scrutiny, what you really need is someone with extensive and broad experience in the field of “getting elected to things” to endorse them.
That is why this week’s election of Consensus backer Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States should be so helpful, particularly his support for a system of “Cap and Trade” for carbon emissions.
What is Cap and Trade?
Cap and Trade is a method by which companies are made to incur costs that don’t actually exist. These costs are not to be confused with actual, real-world costs like rent and salaries. We’re talking more “make-believe” costs.
The way the system would reportedly work is that companies would pay for these make-believe costs with non-make-believe money, the proceeds of which would go to California Senator Barbara Boxer who would then allocate the money to assorted deserving groups who support California Senator Barbara Boxer.
How does this help address Consensus concerns regarding global warming? According to president-elect Obama, by carefully applying this program to the construction of new coal-powered electric plants, incentives can be put in place that would encourage them to go bankrupt.
As luck would have it, bankrupt power plants have a relatively small carbon footprint and in fact might be carbon positive if you factor in the overgrown weeds sopping up carbon dioxide and the workers who no longer need to commute to their jobs but instead hang around the house listlessly emitting low levels of CO2.
So it’s sort of win-win-win.
Of course, that’s the best case. However, Barack Obama’s Cap and Trade plan would, even at a minimum, cause electricity rates to “necessarily skyrocket.” Skyrocketing electricity rates would also bring down carbon emissions by forcing companies to close or cut back on their operations. Now before you get overly concerned regarding the economic impact of such a move, it should be noted that this would apply only to those firms that use electricity. (This will spare needless disruption to Amish manufacturers of traditional Shaker furniture and related accessories.)
The Cap and Trade system, applied to all industries, would be the first truly effective way to combat global warming by going at the heart of the problem:
Unfortunately, humans still retain a sentimental attachment to such modern comforts as not freezing to death in the winter and so it is likely that Barack Obama will have to delay immediate implementation of his power plant bankruptcy plan and instead go with his US Treasury bankruptcy plan for “renewable energy.”
There are two types of renewable energy to consider:
The expensive kind is helpful in that the additional resources devoted to it will help slow down the economy, while the kind that doesn't exist is helpful in that the additional resources devoted to it will help slow down the economy.
So, there's really no downside.
Yes, the future is surely bright for The Consensus, but only if we make sure the populace is kept focused on pursuing expensive global warming initiatives.
And kept out of the bookstores!
Introducing, by popular demand (popular being a relative term), official Consensus Watch Merchandise. Choices are currently limited to cups with simple designs primarily because creating elaborate graphics would require I put my drink down.
So buy one (or two!) today and show your friends and colleagues, “Hey, I’m an idiot who buys random junk off the Internet from people I don't know!”
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Cap and Trade in a perfect world captures costs which do exist -- costs that economists call externalities, as you surely know. I could avoid the non-existent cost of sanitation by just throwing my garbage over the fence into your lawn. (If I lived next door, and if you didn't have so many guns).
As a model for dealing with actual pollution and giving factories of varying modernity and efficiency market mechanisms for compliance, C&T can be an elegant solution.
That's for real pollution, though. I tend to look at CO2 as "plant food".
Posted by: Michael | Nov 7, 2008 11:48:41 AM
Cap and Trade, even if applied to "real" pollutants still exists in a pretend world in that such a market would not exist but for its creation by the government, and the initial pricing of those "costs" would not be based on economic principles but on political ones.
Who has more sway with Pelosi? The mercury lobby or the Nitrous Oxide lobby?
Of course, existing pollution regulations have many of the same problems, but at least they are identified as what they are: Regulation. I'd prefer to keep a bright line between government action and free markets lest the latter become confused with the former.
If they haven't already!
Posted by: Planet Moron | Nov 7, 2008 1:25:15 PM
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