The View From 1776
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Cost of Carbon Caps
Sacrificing our standard of living on the altar of secular scientism.
The urgency felt by global-warming worshippers of the goddess Gaia to jettison two centuries of scientific progress is of the same order of rationality as savage tribes throwing maidens into sacred volcanoes to propitiate the gods.
George Will notes:
Barack Obama, understanding the histrionics required in climate-change debates, promises that U.S. emissions in 2050 will be 83 percent below 2005 levels. If so, 2050 emissions will equal those in 1910, when there were 92 million Americans. But there will be 420 million Americans in 2050, so Obama’s promise means that per capita emissions then will be about what they were in 1875.
Among the Gaia priesthood, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ministers are in the forefront of action aimed at degrading our living standards.
The EPA is working on guidelines for CO2, but at this point there are basically two options: cut emissions through efficiency measures or switch to a cleaner fuel like natural gas, says David Bookbinder, an environmental attorney with the Sierra Club. That’s a lot of switching. Coal powers half the U.S.’ electric generation.
Taking power plants out of service to retrofit or holding up new construction raises the risk of epic blackouts or terrifying price spikes. If the rules are applied too strictly, says Jeffrey Holmstead, a former EPA official and an attorney with Bracewell & Giuliani, which represents the energy industry, “you could have the California energy crisis all over again.” Businesses wouldn’t put up with an interrupted supply or higher bills for very long; some would undoubtedly move overseas to places with less punitive environmental laws…
A climate of lingering uncertainty would likely slow investment in many sectors of the economy.
Almost any outcome will be costly for everyone. Last year the conservative Heritage Foundation estimated that the EPA’s proposed regulation of CO2 would raise energy prices to the point of denting the national gdp by an average of $339 billion per year through 2029 and contributing to the loss of 800,000-plus jobs by 2016.
The standard counter from Gaia worshippers is that all the messy jobs involved in manufacturing real products that people want are to be replaced with “green” jobs. Those green jobs are simply more government paper-shuffling clerks and additional cadres of lawyers, and corporate compliance personnel. These jobs contribute nothing to the people who work for a living in the hope of creating a better life for themselves and their children.
They do nothing at all to improve anyone’s standard of living. But they do contribute to our expanding need to import more goods from China and to the ever-ongoing inflation that robs working people of the benefit of their labors. In the final analysis, people must produce goods in order to acquire other goods. Money is not such a product (even though it is manufactured by the Federal Reserve out of thin air). If money isn’t backed by real production, it is inflationary.
The “green” jobs argument is a variant of the Keynesian idea that wars and natural disasters are good things, because they require new investment funding. If this argument had any substance, corporations could become rich by building factories, burning them down, and rebuilding them.