Science Policy

Reason Writers Around Town: The Yale Forum on Climate Change Interviews Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey


The Yale Forum is part of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, run out of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The project says that it "provides original reporting, commentary, and analysis on climate change — one of the most important and challenging issues of our time. We strive to improve understanding of, and nurture better communication on, climate change … for the benefit of the public in arriving at sound individual and public policy actions." The Forum asked Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey to add his two bits. Below are a couple of excerpts from the interview:

First, on the odd and destructive affection of enviromentalists for open access commons:

…wherever you see an environmental problem in the world, it is a commons problem. The problem is occurring in an open-access commons. The problem is that with environmentalism most of the policies that are endorsed — by ideological environmentalists, I'll call them — basically want to enlarge commons rather than restrict them. They want to increase access in certain ways. I think the good policies go in exactly the other direction. I think [environmentalists] are basically advocating policies that will destroy the resources they believe that they're protecting….

Second, on what real intergenerational equity consists of:

We always hear about inter-generational equity, and the concern is that people should have, a century from now, essentially the natural environment that we have today …. Go into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's scenarios, you look at their high-carbon emissions scenarios or economics. What you find is that in that world, the average incomes are somewhere around $100,000 a year in 2100, per capita globally. Then consider the Stern review out of England, which was very important and which looked at the economic stakes of carbon loading to the atmosphere over a long time scale. The worst-case scenario is that global warming would reduce incomes by 20 percent by the year 2100 — something like that. That means that instead of making $100,000 a year, people in 2100 would be making $80,000 a year. The current per capita in the world today is around $8,000 to $9,000. So how should people living at $8,000 to $9,000 sacrifice for people who are going to be making $80,000 one-hundred years from now? That's inter-generational equity. Another way of looking at it is: How much should your great grandparents, who were making $2,000 a year, have sacrificed to have the atmosphere essentially 1.5 degrees cooler than it is.

The whole transcribed interview, "Reason Writer Ron Bailey's Libertarian Take on Climate, Free Markets," can be found here.