Archive for the Category Global Warming


Global temperature pricing; reply to my critics

In a comment to my previous post, Statsguy raised a number of objections to geoengineering.  In principle, those objections should be included in the pricing scheme.  Thus if the sulfates approach has more nasty side effects that the cloud creation approach, then the (risk adjusted) estimated cost of those nasty side effects should be incorporated into the relative subsidies (or taxes) on various geoengineering-type strategies.  But I understand that not everyone will find this persuasive, so here I will try to answer my critics with some relatively pragmatic arguments.  Statsguy linked to an article with 20 objections to geoengineering.  How many of these are persuasive?  I’d say only the first one, and even that one is debatable.
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Response to Matt Yglesias’ challenge

A recent post by Matt Yglesias challenged the libertarian community on their seemingly anti-market approach to global warming:

For basically Popperian reasons I don’t think it makes sense for political pundits to spend a lot of time debating the relative difficulty of developing different hypothetical future technologies.  Instead, I would just say that the best way to find out whether human ingenuity is better at keeping atmospheric CO2 concentrations at a sustainable level by developing artificial trees or by developing better windmills is to . . . implement a binding emissions reduction scheme that puts a price on CO2 emissions.

This isn’t, in other words, an either/or choice. If you had a cap-and-trade system in place, that would put a range of modalities””better efficiency, more clean energy production, more trees & algae, and carbon-scrubbing machines””in a competitive framework. One assumes we’d be looking at some kind of mix. But defining the correct mix in advance seems very hard. Hence the appeal of a basically market-esque mechanism that creates incentives to work on these various ideas without unduly prejudging the appropriate level of investment in speculative technology.

What I think is remarkable is the extent to which people on the right, in their zeal to avoid a market mechanism that the business establishment happens to hate, have a tendency to talk up what instead amounts to a kind of Five Year Plan approach. Instead of regulating carbon, let’s just direct scientists of invent miracle trees! Let’s turn the sky red!

I like his argument, so I am going to take the challenge.  But first let’s diagnose the problem and come up with the right pricing policy.  I’m going wager that Matt’s friends in the environmental community won’t like the outcome. 
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