Congressional Cap-and-Trade Energy Mandates—All Cost, No Benefits

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energy mandates

Georgetown University public policy professor Ted Gayer has a nice article over at The American on how Congress' vast number of energy mandates makes its carbon rationing proposals (uh, I mean, cap-and-trade scheme) much more expensive for American consumers than it has to be. The kicker is that the mandates don't even provide any additional reductions in carbon emissions—they just increase the price people pay for energy. It's all cost and no benefits. As Gayer explains:

The advantage of a cap-and-trade system is that it sets a quota on emissions, but allows complete flexibility on how to achieve the quota. Polluting firms can choose between reducing production, shifting towards cleaner burning fuels, or investing in more fuel-efficient production technology. They can also opt to not reduce emissions, and instead pay other firms to reduce emissions for them (the "trading" component of cap-and-trade). In the end, the emissions goal is met at a minimum cost.

But that's too simple for Congress which must meddle with the tiniest details of how Americans will be using energy over the next 50 years. Gayer continues:

…the bill includes a renewable electricity mandate, which requires electricity utilities to substitute renewable energy (such as wind, solar, or geothermal energy) for energy derived from fossil fuels. Electric utilities would need to generate 6 percent of their electricity from renewable energy in 2012, ramping up to 20 percent by 2021. …

The electricity mandate undermines the cost-saving feature of a cap-and-trade program. Rather than allow the market the flexibility to find the cheapest sources of pollution reduction, the mandate prescribes where and how the reductions must occur. Any reductions achieved through the mandate will just be offset by fewer reductions in other sectors, resulting in no net reduction in emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions have the same effect on the climate whether they are emitted from electricity producers, manufacturing facilities, or automobiles, so the mandate achieves no additional environmental benefit. It is possible to set a mandate tight enough to achieve more reductions than is required by the cap-and-trade program. (This is not the case with the proposed mandates.) This indeed would achieve some additional environmental benefits, but would make the cap-and-trade program superfluous. What's more, the same benefits could be achieved at lower cost by eliminating the mandates and instead tightening the cap.

Some of my earlier reporting on how Congressional mandates will make its cap-and-trade scheme a quagmire of inefficiencies can be found here.

Whole depressingly accurate Gayer article here

NEXT: The Eternal Return of Robert McNamara Mentality

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  1. These are some of the implied arguments behind the Greens’ agenda to take over industrial policy and ration carbon. If even one of these is wrong, their house of cards falls apart:

    1) The earth is warming rapidly and catastrophically and irreversibly.

    2) This alleged warming is primarily due to human influences, not the natural temperature cycles caused by solar variations that have caused huge swings in the climate as shown in the historic (and pre-historic) record.

    3) The primary cause of this alleged human influence is carbon dioxide emissions, not methane (think: cows) or water vapor or any of the other more powerful greenhouse gases.

    4) We must act now, in a state of near-panic, to fend off this alleged catastrophy. We can’t afford to wait another decade or two to firm up the science.

    5) Politicians are the only ones capable of making these allegedly necessary sharp adjustments that would ravage the U.S. economy.

    6) These political solutions would be workable.

    7) The U.S. can make these changes unilaterally, and not have China and India and other developing countries negate our efforts by ramping up their industial base in response to the market share we would be ceding. (Short version: this time, human nature will act differently).

    8) Private, free market solutions would not produce better results than the authoritarian political solutions.

    9) The massive, crushing costs of these proposed changes would not be greater than the costs of accepting warming and making other adjustments.

    10) There is no better possible use of the resources that would go into this political solution that would better improve the lives of humans, such as providing mosquito netting in malarial areas, getting vitamins and immunizations to poor people ravaged by malnutrition and disease, and so on.

    11) The recent cooling trend in global temperatures is an anomaly, and the recent change in terminology from “global warming” to “global climate change” isn’t a case of GW alarmists hedging their bets because of these inconvenient facts.

    12) Global warming would be a bad thing for everyone, including people in really cold miserable places like Scotland or Manitoba. Hawaii, which is much warmer than the rest of the United States, has an undesirable climate that few tourists want to brave.

    And so on.

  2. They said the same things about the Nazis in 1938.

  3. Is there anything the Congress cannot turn into a complete, counterproductive, disaster?

  4. good god his name is Gayer. I wonder how many wedgies that translated to in his youth.

    did anyone else giggle at “gayer article here”

  5. They’ve just gotta run everyone’s lives, in minutest detail.

    Now get off this website and get back to work so you can pay your taxes.

  6. It’s funny. The environmentalists, even if correct, are too fucking irredeemably stupid to understand that they aren’t implementing climate policies, the fucking politicians are. And what do politicians always do? Give themselves more power and control.

    Even if you believe that AGW is happening, and even if you believe that we can do something about it, you are an absolutely retarded cretin if you think politicians will “do it right”.

    My contempt for environmentalists is off the scale, because they clearly either are too idiotic to get this, or they just don’t fucking care.

  7. Well, I’m sure Al Franken will straighten this all out.

  8. You don’t understand, Epi. There’s no time to think! We have to DO SOMETHING!!!!!!11!!!!one!!

    Seriously, though, there’s a certain Jefferson quote about patriots, tyrants, and trees that applies here.

  9. Epi, leftys get it just fine. Change must occur. Industry won’t willingly cut profits to make that change. (as is their right and some would suggest, their duty to stockholders etc)
    At the risk of government messing it up, we ask them to initiate the necessary change.

    You can freely apply this to the economy, the environment, healthcare and any other stand the left chooses.

  10. To err is human. To really fuck shit up, you need Congress.

  11. Epi, leftys get it just fine. Change must occur.

    Bullshit, ben. You keep telling yourself that so you don’t shoot yourself, but those of us with functioning brains know better. No “change” is occurring. Carbon emissions will remain the same, but the government will gain even more microscopic control over all of us.

    Well done. You got nothing, but you pat yourself on the back as if you did, and meanwhile the politicians are laughing their asses off at your stupidity.

  12. First, fuck the greens.

    As for the matter at hand, the mandated reduction in electricity production undermines the “cost saving feature” of cap-and-trade only to the extent of the mandate, right? Seems to me a bit of a stretch to say that, “the mandate prescribes where and how the reductions must occur.” It prescribes “where” one reduction must occur (doesn’t seem to speak to “how”).

    That said, I have no idea of what the magnitude of what that 6% mandate represents as a portion of the whole emissions pie. If it accounts for everything or a sizable chunk, then I guess it’s not as nitpicky as it seems.

    Also, I am alarmed by Bailey’s lack of disclosure. I can’t just assume this post wasn’t sponsored by ExxonMobileTexacoStandardOilSaudiArabiaGeorgeBush LLC.

  13. Did I really spell Mobil with an “e” on the end? Seppuku time.

  14. they clearly either are too idiotic to get this, or they just don’t fucking care.

    Or this is what they want.

    It’s not like the “unintended consequences” of laws are unknowable. You know. So do they, and they like it.

  15. So has Bailey changed his opinion back to ‘disbelieving’ AGW? He changed his mind in support of carbon dioxide as a global apocalyptic agent right before there was more and more evidence that it is a crock. Is he still pushing a carbon tax as the libertarian solution?

  16. Epi, you say that leftys got nothing, and the government is laughing at our stupidity. You apparently underestimate the willingness of the left to allow the government to really fuck something up to initiate change.

  17. Cap and trade? Is that like Run-and-shoot or Chuck-and Duck? I don’t know but, right now there’s 3,000 Mega Watts of off-shore wind in the pipeline between Mass. and Delaware. There’s a massive cooperation underway between private companies, federal, state and local governments to get this done within the next 5-6 years. It’s proven technology that benefits all. If cap and trade helps move this along, it’s at least partly worth it.

    Visit my blog

  18. To summarize. In leftytopia, the end justifies the means.

  19. You apparently underestimate the willingness of the left to allow the government to really fuck something up to initiate change.

    Again, keep telling yourself that you’re “initiating change”, if that’s what helps you sleep at night. Because all you’re doing is handing politicians more power and changing nothing. That’s what’s pathetic about the left, even more than the right. The right is laughable, but the left is pathetic.

  20. Epi, maybe it’s just me. There was a great thread yesterday on the various types of libertarians. I voiced my opinion about government and the folks that make up our society.
    I believe it is nearly impossible for us to get to that from where we are. A complete economic collapse and breakdown of society might do the trick. Maybe. All other attempts to disentangle government and business is just pissin in the wind.

  21. prolefeed, as skeptical as I am of cap and trade, some of those points are of debatable relevance, for instance:

    12) Global warming would be a bad thing for everyone, including people in really cold miserable places like Scotland or Manitoba. Hawaii, which is much warmer than the rest of the United States, has an undesirable climate that few tourists want to brave.

    The global warming problem isn’t about the effect of temperatures a couple of degrees higher on human comfort. To be honest, we probably wouldn’t even directly notice a mean temperature change of five degrees or so. The concern is that other organisms which we (even indirectly) depend on are much more sensitive to temperature changes and may not be able to adapt quickly enough to survive. Also there are concerns about ocean currents getting disrupted, chief among them the Gulf Stream, the failure of which would give northern and central Europe the same climate as northern Canada has now.

  22. A complete economic collapse and breakdown of society might do the trick.

    But that won’t happen. So you just make thinks significantly worse, and yet again, utterly fail to achieve what you wanted. Pathetic, as I said.

  23. Tomcat1066 | July 8, 2009, 1:16pm | #

    To err is human. To really fuck shit up, you need Congress.

    Twittered. Well done sir.

    Also Epi, don’t be so hard on Ben, I think he was mostly making a joke.

  24. “leftys get it just fine. Change must occur.”

    Why is change neccessary if it hasn’t been proven that the extent of global warming will prove disastrous? Why destroy our economy for something that hasn’t been proven?

  25. Global warming would be a bad thing for everyone, including people in really cold miserable places …

    Has the thought never occurred to you that some people like cold places and that cold does not necessarily equla miserable and warm equal good? With this statement you are presuming (much like the “greens” (god how I hate that term)) to know what is best for everyone.

  26. He’s not joking, Sean. He’s serious.

  27. Twittered. Well done sir.

    Why thank you [bows] 😉

  28. “The global warming problem isn’t about the effect of temperatures a couple of degrees higher on human comfort. To be honest, we probably wouldn’t even directly notice a mean temperature change of five degrees or so. The concern is that other organisms which we (even indirectly) depend on are much more sensitive to temperature changes and may not be able to adapt quickly enough to survive. Also there are concerns about ocean currents getting disrupted, chief among them the Gulf Stream, the failure of which would give northern and central Europe the same climate as northern Canada has now.”

    But none of that has been proven, it’s all speculation at this point.

  29. There’s a massive cooperation underway between private companies, federal, state and local governments to get this done within the next 5-6 years. It’s proven technology that benefits all. If cap and trade helps move this along, it’s at least partly worth it.

    If this project is already underway and is on a fast track to be done in 5-6 years, how exactly will cap and trade help move it along?

    Doesn’t the existence of this project (and others like it) refute, at least partially, the need for cap and trade? Can we at least say that all carbon reduction projects undertaken before cap and trade cannot be counted as occurring because of cap and trade?

  30. I have another courtesy a buddy just now:

    “If pro is the opposite of con then the opposite of progress is?”

  31. “It’s all cost and no benefits.”

    That cost goes somewhere. Some people will be getting very wealthy by siphoning off money as it is transferred around, no doubt people who donate heavily to congress people.

    “Polluting firms can choose between…”

    You forgot to add to your list – moving production to someplace that does not have corrupt and inefficient cap and trade schemes.

  32. Honest environmentalists acknowledge that man’s contribution to co2 emissions is minor. But is controllable, unlike the other sources.
    They claim we can’t know what the “tipping point” is – whether or not a doubling , or just a .1% increase, in man’s portion will be enough to doom us all. So, to be safe, they want to drastically ratchet back man’s contribution, even if climate change will happen anyway due to other factors.

    Or so I’m told. Many of us answer “no” when asked if major sacrifice to our standard of living is worth the costs of guarding against the tipping point. Others will answer “yes” along a continum running from “willing to use special lightbulbs” through “commit suicide to save Gaia.” I suspect most will stop saying yes once their comfort concerns override their desire to be part of the in crowd.

  33. Yes Sean, I am serious, Small government may be sellable in a few years. But for that to happen, all the huge government fans have to admit their mistake. The retributive mindset of the left is a self feeding thing. Right up to the point that the govt teat goes dry. I am simply justifying runaway govt spending to quicken the cycle.

    I will add, corporate america has had ample oppurtunity to divorce themselves from govt for decades but found it more profitable to not make waves. Now, a very substantial number of voters have decided to “fix” corporate america and all the percieved ills it has caused. They don’t/can’t/won’t see that the government itself has them on the dole and business on a leash.

    As I said, I don’t believe it is possible to fix the mess. I say, push it to self destruction and start over.

  34. Also there are concerns about ocean currents getting disrupted, chief among them the Gulf Stream, the failure of which would give northern and central Europe the same climate as northern Canada has now.

    I heard a story years ago that some Congressman propose that the US build a giant jetty out from Cape Hatteras to divert the Gulf Stream so that Europe would get cooled of and wouldn’t go to war with each other.

    In the real world, when Henry Flagler started to build the the Overseas Railroad he proposed to fill the channels betwen the Keys. It was protests that such a major change in tidal flows right at the very source of the Gulf Stream could affect the climate in the North Atlantic that prompted him to build bridges.

  35. Also there are concerns about ocean currents getting disrupted, chief among them the Gulf Stream, the failure of which would give northern and central Europe the same climate as northern Canada has now.

    There’s also the issue of the oceans absorbing CO2 and the effects that will have on the coral reefs. We all know how important the reefs are to our own survival, right?

    But from my own standpoint, I live along the mid-Atlantic coast. Here it is the fourth week of summer and we haven’t had a single day over 90 deg. And I can remember going ice skating on frozen ponds as a child; not anymore. My observations show the area’s climate to be moderating, thus possibly extending the growing season for local farmers(?). I don’t know for sure.

    My own viewpoint is that it’s not just about global warming. There are other types of pollution that coal contributes to, just ask the Chinese and why they banned burning coal during the Olympics. It’s also a matter of an impending fossil fuel shortage. This doesn’t have to be a political issue, and it shouldn’t. Wouldn’t an oil shortage be a matter of national security? Isn’t it already? Wouldn’t it also hurt the economy if oil hit $400/barrel? I’m not real big on C&T. I’m not convinced it’s the right way to go. But the Dems need to stop trying to get back at Republicans for the last 8 years and start moving forward with real debate on how to avert the impending crisis.

  36. bookworm, the success of a libertarian government in the U.S. is also unproven. Why push to initiate that change? Am I to agree with you simply because you believe it will work?

  37. “bookworm, the success of a libertarian government in the U.S. is also unproven. Why push to initiate that change? Am I to agree with you simply because you believe it will work?”

    The free market has been proven to work. It has not been proven that there will be disastrous effects from AGW. To do things that will be destructive to our economy just because there MIGHT be unproven disastrous effects of AGW is like saying you and I should convert to Christianity just in case there’s a hell even though it hasn’t been proven.

  38. Electric utilities would need to generate 6 percent of their electricity from renewable energy in 2012, ramping up to 20 percent by 2021. …

    Umm, I wonder, if generating 20 percent of electricity from renewable energy is a good thing and achievable by by 2021, wouldn’t the utilities just end up doing it? Or at least something like it?

  39. Doesn’t the existence of this project (and others like it) refute, at least partially, the need for cap and trade? Can we at least say that all carbon reduction projects undertaken before cap and trade cannot be counted as occurring because of cap and trade?

    Absolutely. I’m just trying to say first, my Republican Rep. voted for it. Second, if it does help existing projects to fruition it would be at least partially worth it. I’m certainly not trying to completely justify the entire C&T bill. I’m still at odds with the way it was pushed through and I’m not convinced it’s the best route to go.

  40. “The free market has been proven to work.”

    Where? When? for how long?

  41. “corporate america has had ample oppurtunity to divorce themselves from govt for decades but found it more profitable to not make waves.”

    Yes. And we’ve known this forever… Corporations + Government = 500 year lovefest

    From this very magazine in 1978, Milton Friedman said:

    “Business corporations in general are not defenders of free enterprise. On the contrary, they are one of the
    chief sources of danger….Every businessman is in favor of freedom for everybody else, but when it comes to himself that’s a different question. We have to have that tariff to protect us against competition from abroad. We have to have that special provision in the tax code. We have to have that subsidy.”

  42. You are some smart folks here. I came across the term “Dionysian Liquor” today. Google produced nine hits, none with a definition. So what is it?

  43. Tow Head, “Dionysian Liquor” is wine. Dionysus was the god of wine (amongst other, more complicated ideas).

  44. “Epi, maybe it’s just me. There was a great thread yesterday on the various types of libertarians.”

    They left of #7: South Park Libertarian.

  45. “The concern is that other organisms which we (even indirectly) depend on are much more sensitive to temperature changes and may not be able to adapt quickly enough to survive.”

    And that’s a problem?

  46. “The free market has been proven to work.”

    “Where? When? for how long?”

    I’ll put it this way: Nobody knows better about what needs we have than consumers and producers. This is determined in the free market. Politicians and bureaucrats think they know what is best for us, but they can’t determine the price of production because they don’t have a pulse of what consumers desire. Just compare our economy to the economy of socialist Europe and the former Soviet Union and ask yourself which has proven the greater success. The free market has been proven to work.

  47. “Doesn’t the existence of this project (and others like it) refute, at least partially, the need for cap and trade? Can we at least say that all carbon reduction projects undertaken before cap and trade cannot be counted as occurring because of cap and trade?”

    I can tell you that companies with projects already completed well ahead of the curve won’t count as credits in the cap & trade calculus.

  48. “I will add, corporate america has had ample oppurtunity to divorce themselves from govt for decades but found it more profitable to not make waves.”

    But they can’t. To do so would be suicide. Government hold all the power.

  49. bookworm:

    Fuck just looking at our economy!

    Look at:

    East vs. West Berlin
    Hong Kong
    post-1990 India
    Estonia
    Singapore
    Chile
    aspects of China now vs. 50 years ago

    That anyone can’t recognize these things at this point in human history is astounding.

  50. “Umm, I wonder, if generating 20 percent of electricity from renewable energy is a good thing and achievable by by 2021, wouldn’t the utilities just end up doing it? Or at least something like it?”

    Yes it is and no we wouldn’t.

  51. “Just compare our economy to the economy of socialist Europe and the former Soviet Union and ask yourself which has proven the greater success. The free market has been proven to work.”

    That isn’t exactly an example of a free market.

    “I’ll put it this way: Nobody knows better about what needs we have than consumers and producers. This is determined in the free market. Politicians and bureaucrats think they know what is best for us, but they can’t determine the price of production because they don’t have a pulse of what consumers desire”

    This is just an example of differing theories, yours and the politicians.

  52. “The concern is that other organisms which we (even indirectly) depend on are much more sensitive to temperature changes and may not be able to adapt quickly enough to survive.”

    Polar bears have survived for millions of years including when temperatures on earth were much warmer than present temperatures. As temperatures rise in certain areas, they move on to colder climates.

  53. “Just compare our economy to the economy of socialist Europe and the former Soviet Union and ask yourself which has proven the greater success. The free market has been proven to work.”

    “That isn’t exactly an example of a free market.”

    It is more of a free market than the other examples and as such, has proven to be more of a success.

    “I’ll put it this way: Nobody knows better about what needs we have than consumers and producers. This is determined in the free market. Politicians and bureaucrats think they know what is best for us, but they can’t determine the price of production because they don’t have a pulse of what consumers desire”

    “This is just an example of differing theories, yours and the politicians.”

    I believe that the economy of the late 19th century which was more of a free market than we have today was a stronger economy with less booms and busts than what has been the case in the 20th cetury. I believe the evidence is there that the free market works and it isn’t just one theory vs. another.

  54. As temperatures rise in certain areas, they move on to colder climates.

    That’s fine for the rich polar bears.

    But what about the unemployed polar bears, and the single mother polar bears, and the pensioner polar bears on fixed incomes.

    You libertarians just don’t care about the less fortunate.

  55. “Polar bears have survived for millions of years including when temperatures on earth were much warmer than present temperatures. As temperatures rise in certain areas, they move on to colder climates.”

    I leaned on the Nat Geo channel that Polar bears are actually grizzly bears that migrated north. The lighter ones were successful, hence the white polar bears today.

  56. Cal Lipigian | July 8, 2009, 12:35pm | #

    They said the same things about the Nazis in 1938

    Thanks for making my day Cal!

  57. As temperatures rise in certain areas, they move on to colder climates.
    That’s fine for the rich polar bears.

    But what about the unemployed polar bears, and the single mother polar bears, and the pensioner polar bears on fixed incomes.

    You libertarians just don’t care about the less fortunate.

    Yeah, and what about the ‘people of color’?

  58. “I leaned on the Nat Geo channel that Polar bears are actually grizzly bears that migrated north. The lighter ones were successful, hence the white polar bears today.”

    Maybe if the ice all melts, they’ll become grizzly bears again.

  59. Charles Darwin | July 8, 2009, 2:54pm | #
    “The concern is that other organisms which we (even indirectly) depend on are much more sensitive to temperature changes and may not be able to adapt quickly enough to survive.”

    And that’s a problem?

    If the changes occur too quickly for other organisms to fill the niche, it’s a problem for currently dominant life forms (ie, us). Just like an asteroid impact 65 mya was not necessarily bad in the grand scheme of things, but it was definitely bad for the dinosaurs.

    Polar bears have survived for millions of years including when temperatures on earth were much warmer than present temperatures. As temperatures rise in certain areas, they move on to colder climates.

    That’s going to require a link. Considering they are adapted to hunt seals coming up to breathe from beneath ice packs (they aren’t fast enough to do it on land or in the water), I have a hard time believing polar bears were prospering during periods where the Arctic ice cap had completely melted away, as would happen in the five-degree warming scenario.

    They need to

  60. Maybe if the ice all melts, they’ll become grizzly bears again.

    Please tell me this is a joke. I can’t tell anymore, given the knee-jerk stupidity that many libertarians display on anything related to global warming.

  61. Also there are concerns about ocean currents getting disrupted, chief among them the Gulf Stream, the failure of which would give northern and central Europe the same climate as northern Canada has now.

    Tulpa, according to Carl Wunsch, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physical Oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and clearly not an AGW denier, the Gulf Stream is safe if the wind blows and the Earth turns(pdf).

  62. That’s all nice and stuff Tulpa, but the global warming scenarios are more like a 1 degree warming over a century. Climate shifts are after all measured in the 100ths of degrees in year-to-year record keeping.

  63. Are you an evolution denier Tulpa? Were do you think they came from?

    Here’s your link, btw

    http://www.geol.umd.edu/~candela/pbevol.html

    The first fossil found of what we modernly consider a polar bear was 500k yrs ago…there were several large climate changes (both hot and cold) during that period. I’m sure they flourished more during the last ice age more than the last major loss of arctic ice, but they survived until you could worry about them. How nice.

  64. deluded,

    Of course I believe in Evolution, but it is extremely slow to work. There have been much larger temperature changes in Earth’s history, yes; but the only ones that proceeded as quickly as the current hypothesized global warming have been accompanied by mass extinctions.

    The polar bears are a red herring (so to speak) anyway; their importance to humans is doubtful. I was just responding to brotherben’s assertion. The temperature sensitivity of coral is a bigger concern.

  65. I believe that the economy of the late 19th century which was more of a free market than we have today was a stronger economy with less booms and busts than what has been the case in the 20th cetury.

    Im not 100% sure on this, but I think this isn’t true.

    I’m pretty sure I have seen graphs that show that the economy had more booms and busts during the more free wheeling 19th century. I can’t find it right now, but I know I’ve seen it.

    The economy at that time was much more volatile and had more crashes then during the more regulated 20th century. The frequency of crashes is the reason why a lot of regulation was added.

  66. “The free market has been proven to work.”

    Where? When? for how long?

    eBay. Every day, all day long.

    Just one example.

  67. Yah Tulpa, but again – we’re not talking about that big of temperature shifts.

    Also, I saw the worst-ever analogy for climate change on a bullshit “news” show this weekend. The “scientist” used a beaker of water with some ice-cubes set on a hotplate to show the reporter a “model” of how climate change is exponential and will result in catastrophe… Cause you know, sure the water won’t boil at first cause there’s ice in there, but when all the ice melts, temperature will spike.

    Thus: Our oceans will eventually boil!

    And all this, she said, was cause of CO2 being emitted by humans.

    Cept… the report only ever showed CO2 emissions from a giant undersea volcano eruption, and hilariously, an image of the “emissions” from a Nuclear plant… which *ahem*… is steam.

  68. ChicagoTom,

    The booms and busts of the 19th century were more frequent but of much lesser magnitude. None of them can even compare to the 20s or 90s booms, or the Great Depression and the massive 1981 recession.

  69. Sean, you don’t need big temperature shifts to cause problems — small sustained temperature shifts are enough to seriously fuck with some ecosystems. We always complain about the liberal attitude that businesses are awash with cash when really most of them are barely surviving on tiny profit margins. Well the same is true for most animals. Competition in the business world pales in comparison to competition in the animal world.

  70. ChicagoTom:

    “I’m pretty sure I have seen graphs that show that the economy had more booms and busts during the more free wheeling 19th century. I can’t find it right now, but I know I’ve seen it.

    The economy at that time was much more volatile and had more crashes then during the more regulated 20th century. The frequency of crashes is the reason why a lot of regulation was added.”

    Actually, you’re quite wrong on this point. The label of crashes have changed. Used to be “panics”, then “depressions”, now “recessions” but the St. Louis Fed keeps records of this kind of stuff and I like to note that the 20th Century has had a TON of recessions:

    Not the shaded areas on this CPI chart

    Check out the various works of Tom Woods & Robert Murphy for more on the history of these things. For example, watch him talk about the “depression” of 1920

    One of the things that the mainstream economists are more than happy to have people forget is that in virtually all of the various panics, recessions & depressions that happened prior to the grotesque actions of FDR & Hoover, the pain lasted 6 months to a year. History very clearly bears out that it’s only when government intervenes and the extent of their intervention that prolongs these things.

    And it may be worth noting that the various booms & busts have all owed their origins to expansions in the money supply, now by the Fed, but by various central banks over the centuries prior to now.

  71. “sustained” over what time period though Tulpa, about 10 years was enough for a whole species of moths in the UK to completely adapt to living in trees no longer covered by lichen at the start of their industrial revolution. 100 years is actually a rather large number of generations for most animal species… Try to avoid thinking on a human lifespan’s time-scale for these things.

    a +0.5 degree C temperature change over 50-100 years is “significant” I guess, but hardly unmanageable… and as I think Epi wrote earlier, there’s a dozen questions you have to answer before you get to irrational and idiotic government policy changes as the solution, any one of which being enough to vote no on a government mandate if answered in the non-leftist way.

  72. Ughh… that should have been “Note the shaded areas on the CPI chart”

    The 20th Century has gone through a few dozen recessions, most of them we just don’t think about – plus with a federal reserve, we’ve avoided feeling some of the consequences by simply pumping up yet another bubble like JM Keynes always wanted.

    E.g. 80s housing bubble -> 90s stock bubble -> late 90s tech bubble -> 2003-now MEGA stock+housing bubble -> CRASH!!

    There’s only so long the fed can hold off recessions when they pump up various bubbles through low low interest rates and assloads of monetary inflation. And each time they manage to pump up something new, they just make the pain of the crash worse. I.e. 2009.

  73. Didn’t this whole problem of “human-caused” get solved by that documentary Knowing?

    Wait, you mean Nicholas Cage is a terrible actor and no one saw that movie? Oh, well never mind then, discuss away.

  74. Tomcat1066 | July 8, 2009, 1:16pm | #
    To err is human. To really fuck shit up, you need Congress.

    That’s become very popular on teh twitter, Tomcat Clemens! I sent it out there too and it was RTd almost a dozen times. Nicely said, sir!

    “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
    –Mark Twain

  75. I know… me too… I got a lot of RTs right after I did it… As I said earlier, well done sir!

  76. Corals are not suffering. Do some more research. Corals they thought were going to die are now recovered and flourishing. It’s complete BS. Corals will be fine.

  77. Sean, you don’t need big temperature shifts to cause problems — small sustained temperature shifts are enough to seriously fuck with some ecosystems.

    Tulpa, it wasn’t that long ago that the reason to fear small changes was potential catastrophic effects on global weather patterns, but most of these have been shown to be unlikely, like the bogus fear of the Gulf Stream shutting down Wunsch debunked (see my earlier comment at 4:39). To see him really ticked off about a scientific conference being totally misrepresented in the press, go here(pdf).

    Now you, and I’m guessing others in the enviro movement, have switched to a new catastrophic worry: Small changes in temp will kill all of the cute animals and pretty flowers. Is is any wonder some label the movement as a religion?

  78. The environmentalists, even if correct, are too fucking irredeemably stupid to understand that they aren’t implementing climate policies, the fucking politicians are.

    If they are correct, what does that make you?

  79. you mean Nicholas Cage is a terrible actor

    Bringing Out the Dead and Wild at Heart beg to disagree with you.

    There are no terrible actors, only terrible directors. Wait, there are terrible actors, but Nic Cage isn’t one of them.

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