Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Great moments in global warming theory.......

Pentamom has commented with an interesting link from NPR in which the economist more or less states that all that ails us in climatology can be alleviated by letting the economists make the decision, and that this decision would doubtless be to to phase in a carbon tax.

Now at the risk of "fisking" this, I've got to, well, do a little fisking.  Let's start by acknowledging that "all economists" would agree to a carbon tax is ludicrous, as many schools of thought have denounced exactly that in no uncertain terms.  Ten economists will have eleven different opinions on any given issue, after all.

Going further, sound economists (as opposed to Professor Jacoby) know that demand for fuels is notoriously inelastic with price; the only significant downturns in gasoline consumption are with recessions, not price, for example.  We stop using gasoline, electricity, and the like only when we lose our jobs, and trading in vehicles for efficiency is....really, pretty inefficient.

Moreover, one would also hope a reasonably intelligent economist might realize that getting politicians to give up power is, to put it gently, easier said than done, and one would hope as well that such an economist would realize that we have all kinds of government incentives for inefficiency that we might do well to address--hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate welfare, daycare subsidies, student loans and grants for students who have no real hope of graduating, and the like.  So it's not a one page solution, but rather something that would make the Health Insurance Deform Act look terse in comparison.

No such luck with NPR, and per the stereotype of journalists choosing journalism because no real learning is involved, nobody at NPR seems to have caught on.  It sounded really profound and scholarly, though, until you started thinking about reality.


pentamom said...

The thing that cracked me up about it was the kindergarten-level simplicity of it, complete with a kindergarten-level understanding of how the world works.

As in, "We don't get our food from a farm, Mommy goes to the supermarket every week."

Only in this case, it's "We don't use much fossil fuel, Daddy drives a Prius and we only have electric garden equipment." Yeah, not counting all the food you eat, anything your buy that is manufactured and transported, and turning on your lights -- you don't use much fossil fuel so the tax wouldn't affect you much, sweetie.

Bike Bubba said...

Well said; MIT ain't exactly doing itself proud with Professor Jacoby. I would love to see the results if Jacoby tried the stunt he just pulled among the economics faculty at the U. of Chicago or George Mason U. It would not be pretty, but it would be hilarious.