TCS Daily

The Political Economy of Alternative Energy

By Arnold Kling - March 6, 2007 12:00 AM

"Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family's carbon footprint — a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore's office explains what Mr. Gore has asked is that every family calculate their carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as possible. Once they have done so, he then advocates that they purchase offsets, as the Gore's do, to bring their footprint down to zero."
-- Denny Haldeman (scroll down to email responses to the op-ed)

Suppose that a friend of yours is trying to lose weight, and he tells you, "If I eat this salad, it will be good for me. So then I can have cake for dessert." What would you tell your friend?

Al Gore is trying to say that by investing in alternative forms of energy, he is "offsetting" the heavy use of conventional electricity for his home. This is like saying that eating salad entitles a dieter to enjoy cake for dessert.

Carbon "Offsets"

The idea of a "carbon offset" is that when you do something that causes carbon dioxide emissions to increase you might at the same time donate money to a cause that reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide by a similar amount. However, not all "carbon offsets" truly offer the sort of straightforward one-for-one trade that the term "offset" implies. Some of the "carbon offsets" are nothing but pork-barrel subsidies to energy producers, and their net effect on carbon emissions is problematic.

Subsidizing "good" energy in order to justify using "bad" energy is like eating salad in order to justify eating dessert. It is an exercise in self-deception. (In this context, good energy means energy that is produced with little or no emission of carbon into the atmosphere.)

For example, consider a "carbon offset" that consists of a subsidy to good energy. As The Economist blog points out, just because energy-user A gives energy-user B a subsidy to use good energy does not necessarily mean that energy-user B will reduce her own use of bad energy, or that her reduction will actually lead to reduced production of bad energy. All we know is that the subsidy to B's use of good energy will lead to price changes. These, in turn, depending on features of demand and supply in various markets, may reduce pollution by little or nothing.

For example, at least part of B's response to the subsidy will be to increase her total energy consumption rather than merely substituting good energy for bad energy. Furthermore, her supplier of bad energy, faced with high fixed costs and low variable costs, may lower the price of bad energy in order to keep B's demand for bad energy at a high level.

Good Energy Deserves No Subsidy

The most important, inconvenient truth about energy policy is that there is no justification for a subsidy for good energy. Subsidies for wind farms, solar energy, ethanol, and so forth, whether they come from government "energy policy" or personal carbon offsets, are pure pork.

It may be true, as Greg Mankiw argues in his Pigou Club Manifesto, that higher taxes on bad energy are justified. Figuring out the optimum tax is a difficult challenge, even for the Pigou Club. However, once the correct tax is set, that by itself provides all the incentive that is needed to get people to switch to good energy. The tax on bad energy will raise the price that people are willing to pay for good energy. That higher price for good energy is all of the incentive that producers need to undertake the effort to provide more good energy.

The public policy goal of those who worry about carbon emissions is for people to consume less bad energy. Whether people consume more good energy is beside the point. Trying to get other people to consume more good energy so that you can consume more bad energy is feeble-minded.

A personal "carbon offset" can be thought of as a self-imposed tax on the use of bad energy, accompanied by a subsidy of something else. The self-imposed tax is only constructive to the extent that it discourages the person from consuming bad energy. The subsidy is only constructive to the extent that it reduces carbon emissions somewhere else. Subsidizing good energy by no means ensures a reduction in the use of bad energy.

Even subsidizing the planting of a forest may not work. Although the trees will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the planting itself may require the use of heavy earth-moving vehicles that emit pollution. Overall, adding forest in one spot may lead to a developer cutting down a forest in a nearby spot.

If you want to fight carbon emissions, then join the Pigou Club and push for taxes on bad energy. If you want to fight carbon emissions at a personal level, then act as if there were a high tax on your use of energy from carbon-emitting sources, and reduce your use of that energy. If you are not really all that worried about carbon emissions, but you get pleasure from making empty, self-righteous gestures, then do what Al Gore does -- buy carbon offsets.

Reducing Oil Consumption

For some people, the notions of good energy and bad energy are based on concerns with terrorism rather than concerns with global warming. Dirty coal would be bad energy for a global warming alarmist, but it would be good energy for someone who hates many of the major oil producers.

As I pointed out four years ago, the global energy market is integrated. It does not differentiate American oil from Saudi oil. Oil is oil. As far as our relationship with oil exporters goes, only direct diplomatic or military confrontation with Saudi Arabia and Iran will change their policies on terrorism.

Emission Entitlements

Another policy under consideration for controlling emissions is known as "cap and trade." This is an entitlement policy, in which corporations would be given licenses to pollute, which they would then trade in a market. The Wall Street Journal calls this "cap and charade."

Emission entitlements are a tax and subsidy scheme. Once the entitlements have been doled out, in order to emit more pollution than your entitlement, your company will have to buy entitlements from another company. The entitlements will have a market price. That market price will become a tax on firms that exceed their pollution entitlement and a subsidy to firms that decrease theirs.

Once again, the economic logic supports a tax without a subsidy. That is, the same goals can be achieved with a straightforward tax on emissions. However, such a tax would not give politicians as much leeway to redistribute wealth. In fact, the real dream of the cap-and-traders is to move beyond mere redistribution within nation states to international redistribution, giving new power to the United Nations or to some yet-to-be-chartered international pollution entitlement agency.

Large Private Benefits

In contrast to the lack of public benefits from energy subsidies or cap-and-trade, the private benefits are enormous. The winners are politicians, lobbyists, and narrow producer interests.

Subsidies for alternative energy are good politics. Both Republicans and Democrats like to dole out subsidies.

For Republicans, subsidies are pro-business. By supporting biofuels, such as ethanol from corn, Republicans buy votes from corporate interests.

For Democrats, support for alternative energy is an opportunity to make symbolic gestures on terrorism and global warming. Instead of making painful policy choices, such as confronting Saudi Arabia and Iran on terrorism or de-industrializing the economy, support for alternative energy gives the appearance of doing something while in fact doing nothing. It serves the same role as the "nonbinding resolution" opposing sending more troops to Iraq, which is to engage in political posturing with minimal risk.

If you are in the alternative energy business, a government subsidy is your lifeblood. Your most important investment is with your Washington lobbyist.

Under cap-and-trade, your corporation's emission entitlement will be a major asset, the size of which will be determined by legislators and regulators. As the Wall Street Journal put it,

Entergy, a utility that relies heavily on natural gas and nuclear power and thus produces relatively less CO2, would love a cap that distributes the allowances based on how much electricity you churn out, rather than on how much CO2 you produce. Entergy's "carbon footprint" is small compared to some other utilities, so an electrical-output-based cap would be windfall city. Dupont, meanwhile, wants credit for reductions already made because it sees instant profit in costs already paid. It also wants a cap to cover as many industries as possible so it can make money selling emissions-reduction products.

...There's no market here unless the government creates one, and who has the profit opportunity depends entirely on who the government picks as the winners and the losers in designing this market in the first place.

The competition for politically-driven profits is known as rent-seeking. The end result of rent-seeking is that the gains to private firms from government subsidies are dissipated through competition. In the end, only lobbyists and corrupt government officials benefit. The politics of global warming and the alleged oil/terrorism link are creating the conditions for an orgy of rent-seeking relative to energy.

Chances are, lobbyists will use up more energy than is produced by alternative energy subsidies. As for carbon dioxide emissions, cap-and-trade and energy subsidies certainly will increase the amount of jets flown by corporate executives to plead with politicians in Washington, Eurocrats in Brussels, and United Nations officials in New York. The net result is that the concentration of greenhouse gases probably will be higher, not lower.

Arnold Kling is author of Learning Economics and Crisis of Abundance.



Good article showing again how politicians, beaurocrats and other liberal rent-seekers will go to any extent to distort economies to their own advantage. This phoney notiion has been around for ages esp. in euroland where they know they can't meet even their kyoto goals. So in the same manner that they make rationalizations for also not being able to meet their euro stabilization pact goals, they do the same for carbon because they know they can't meet those either. Here's a better idea for the american hypocrite Gore, if he wants to cut down on his heavy carbon footprint, he should try going on a diet! He could also stop using gaz guzzlers(even if they might officially belong to his wife, a la j. Kerry), he should just walk, take bicycle, horse, or if desperate public transport like ordinary people have to.

speaking of subsidies
What Al didn't tell you was that he is an owner of the company that he is buying carbon credits from.

I thought money disqualified one from having an opinion?
Gore owns a company that specializes in investing in alternative energy.

So whenever a person or govt invests in alternative energy, it makes algore that much richer.

Is this a conflict of interest?

Bad Taxes
Taxing bad behaviour is like putting lipstick on a pig.

The taxes are never put into special funds or programs to wean people off their bad habits. The state then has an incentive for people to continue that bad behaviour.

Some people were willing to spend thousands of dollars to be the first to have flat screen TVs. Thanks to those people the costs have dropped and quality has improved so more can afford HD TVs.

Kling, as an economist, you should appreciate how governments skew markets. And the energy market is one skewed place.

The sooner government inference in the enegy markets ceases, the sooner the market will generate cheap, clean and effient energy.

Subsidizing "good" energy in order to justify using "bad" energy
Everyone here should agree that subisidising any form of energy creates an unlevel playing field, and requires that the subsidies be granted in perpetuity. We should wean ourselves from this habit and make all sources compete head to head with one another.

Only in that way can we see for ourselves the true cost of our energy. It will appear at the pump, or on our monthly electric bill-- not in hidden form on our federal taxes.

The absolute worst case of using "good" energy subsidies to mask increases in the use of "bad" energy is the federal ethanol program-- the apotheosis of Big Pork.

What do we get for our $9.5 billion each year? We get a lot of corn production, and sky high prices for corn that resonate at the supermarket whenever we buy a steak, a soda, or anything else that's full of corn.

We get worn out soils in the Corn Belt, that never get a break from overproducing a yield and never getting a chnce to rest.

We get a Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico, where all the excess nitrates we pump into the land get washed out and down the drain to poison our fish and shrimp industries.

And we get a giant boost to the dirtiest of energy-- King Coal. Because modern corn production requires huge inputs of fertilizers, pesticides and soil amendments that all come to us through coal and natural gas use. Then there are the ordinary transport costs and attendant engagement in mechanized agriculture. And most of all, it costs huge energy sums to convert corn into auto fuel. Those costs are paid by coal for the most part.

The actual hard costs are carefully concealed by ethanol programs that pay for the push toward "energy independence" under the table, so you don't see it directly at the pump. Even so, the numbers don't add up. You pay more for gasoline with ethanol added, and you get less mileage from it.

Everyone loses except for one player: the coal industry. It's Big Government at its worst.

Conflict of interest?
I can't see it, mark. If Al Gore believes alternative energy is the way to go, and he's found a way to make it make money for him, why shouldn't he invest in it? He'd just be putting his money where his mouth is.

Don't forget the fact that AG is not in a position to influence legislation as he is NOT IN OFFICE. Thus his interest conflicts with what?

Carbon trading schemes should be examined on their own merits. We shouldn't just do it because Al Gore tells us to. Don't you agree?

Rather than resent the fact that every dime we spend on alternative energy makes Al Gore richer, shouldn't we be buying the same stock he owns, so we can get richer too?

Is it reasonable to assume...
that all of the taxes added to the price of "bad" energy would be offset by reductions in other taxes, so that the overall result would be revenue neutral?

Sorry, I couldn't resist asking. I would hate to see us place the burden of spending that much more of our hard earned money on the backs of our "poor" politicians and bureaucrats. That would hardly be fair.

Defacto Subsidy
Sorry Arnold but a tax on "bad" energy is a defacto subsidy of "good" energy. The proposed tax arbitrarily and artificially raises the price of "bad" energy to a point where "good" energy can compete. If you really want "good" energy to compete then stay out of the way, let the markets and the genius of the American people solve the problem.

It's illogical to assume that raising the price of "bad" energy won't also raise the price of "good" energy. Think back to the late 1970's and early 1980's and the price of coal. In that era coal was the "good" energy and natural gas was the "bad" energy. All new power plants were required by legislative fiat to use the "good" coal rather than the "bad" natural gas. Coal fired plants were built, coal supplies remained virtually inexhaustible, and coal prices tripled (as did the attendant rail transportation fees). Somehow I don't think the consumers can out ahead on the deal.

Subsidies accomplish one thing - they lock-in existing technology and stifle further development. If you own the existing technology, or the resource that fuels that technology, then subsidies are a good thing. Think about wind and solar power... the advances in those technology came after subsidies were abolished and they were required to compete with fossil fuels. They still can't compete but they're a lot closer than they were. Unfortunately, wind and solar technology is now "fixed" due to government mandates and subsidies. If at first you can't compete get subsidized.

Cato Institute Scholar Lauds the Power of Taxes
Perhaps Mr.Kling may want to reconsider his thoughts after realizing he has just argued for higher taxes, and heavier governmental intervention in the energy sector.

It would have helped to have a little more reasoning on how difficult the challenge to find what a “optimum tax” is, and how dangerous things can become if that’s miscalculated.

As things stand, I can imagine such details getting forgotten whilst certain people will use the article “The Political Economy of Alternative Energy” to support strong governmental activism.

Or perhaps it’s a matter of finding the lesser of two evils? Was Kling’s a way to demonstrate that pork looks worse than taxes in the eyes of a person advocating freer markets?

As I recall...
Coal production was shutting down, at least in the eastern US, in the 70s and 80s because of acid rain problems.

Since that time, new technology was developed (sulfur dioxide scrubbers) the mining regulations have been relaxed (table-top strip, overburden wetlands filling, downstream mining environment degradation by acid drainage, inexpensive leases to mine on public land) to prevent that industry from going under. All of this has been legislated at the federal level. Local and state governments who attempt to regulate their own environment are locked in political battles in the court houses. This is especially true under the latest presidential administration that has stripped the EPA of power and lowered standards for that industry.

Coal power growth has increased the number of premature deaths due to aerosol pollution, ruined the natural beauty of pristine public lands and mining practices have harmed the environment in ways that may never be recovered.

I contend that the federal government subsidizes coal by not making that industry pay for the secondary problems it causes. If the true cost of fossil fuel production were reflected in the purchase price, then nuclear and renewable energy would be cheap by comparison.

I'm not surprised that you don't want to see it.
While you haven't done it. Many who support you shout down anyone who has accepted even a penny of support from companies like Exxon. (AEI gets 0.1% of their support from Exxon, and for this reason alone they must be ignored.)

I'm just pointing out that if we do what Gore is asking. IE invest oodles of money in alternative energy, that investing will make algore richer.

I'm just pointing out the inherent hypocricy of many in the alarmist camp, when they demand that some MUST be ignored, because of their financial entanglement, yet their champion is doing the same thing.

As with many articles on economics
This article is devoid of any fact. The references are to blog sites and op-eds. I couldn't find anything that was not speculation.

Arguing the cost of a clean environment seems to be like those used against Kyoto. Global warming is a fact and there are hard scientific models and measurements to prove it. The Nay-Sayers say that is true, but that the models predicting the future are all wrong. They argue that the cost of changing our lifestyle to prevent future problems is too high.

But what do they know? Economists have yet to show that their models are anything but worthless tools to play philosophical games with.

Which economic model predicted last week’s stock market decline?
What model predicted the declining value of the dollar relative to most every other world currency?
Who among even the best economists would have predicted the precipitating mortgage problem that could very well destroy property values across the whole USA?
Why don’t these models tell us what to do about having 1/6 of the US population on some form of welfare or government subsidy?

This article is like many economic forecasts; pure speculation.

Right on!
Be careful Roy. You are in danger of moving from leftist to libertarian with your crazy talk of markets.

Good post.

>"Global warming is a fact and there are hard scientific models and measurements to prove it."

First, state the "facts" of AGW.

Second, describe how a model, which in no way mirrors or predicts what the climate actually does, is "hard science".

It is funny that you deride economic forecasts but gladly support climate forecasts. Yep. No speculation there.

It should also be noted that Gore bought his carbon credits from himself. It is great to see that his political double-speak and duplicity are still being put to good use.

I can tell that you are not a scientist
I can tell that you are not a scientist from your comments.

Eating Cake
Gore's carbon offset policy is not like a dieter eating a salad and then having cake for desert. The net calories of such a meal would still be less than the calories involved in a eating a hamburger and cake. The idea he is proposing is like a dieter who eats Big Macs all day but insists that everyone else must eat a salad.

I can tell that you are not an economist...
>>>Which economic model predicted last week’s stock market decline?

Well, Elliott Wave Theory for one...

>>>What model predicted the declining value of the dollar relative to most every other world currency?

Anyone with a pulse and half a brain knows that currencies flucuate and rise and fall. It's the result of dynamic market forces. No real mystery.

>>>Who among even the best economists would have predicted the precipitating mortgage problem that could very well destroy property values across the whole USA?

Anyone who is even the slightest bit interested in history knows that the post 9/11 expansion of credit was going to be problematic. It's eerily similar the the expansion of credit in the the late 1920s. I think we all know how that turned out...

>>>Why don’t these models tell us what to do about having 1/6 of the US population on some form of welfare or government subsidy?

Models can't tell us what to do. They can only indicate likely outcomes of various courses of action. And if you'd bother to read any policy prescriptions from, say, Cato, you'd see vary clear proposals of "what to do".

Salad with Pesticides or worse
What is missing in all the above discussion is that what AL claims is green ain't necessarily so. Without life cycle/fuel cycle analysis of each and every source of alternative energy (at a site specific level) the claims of renewable energy advocates are at best unproven. Many alternative energy sources have significant negative impacts that are simply hidden from view.

Neither are you
which you demonstrate when you say, "there are hard scientific models" to prove global warming. Kindly tell us all what is "hard" about an electronic construct in which both the input assumptions and the data are manipulated?

But then, knowing nothing of science is par for the course for a UCS groupie.

Roy you are right on
'What do we get for our $9.5 billion each year? We get a lot of corn production, and sky high prices for corn that resonate at the supermarket whenever we buy a steak, a soda, or anything else that's full of corn.'

yea we get nothing good but the politiicans get free jet rides and much more from ADM and more importantly votes from Iowans in an important early primary straw poll.

"Coal production was shutting down, at least in the eastern US, in the 70s and 80s because of acid rain problems."

Not so. Coal production was shutting down in the NE because of the shutdown of the US steel industry and the decline of manufacturing across the NE states. The rust belt was established long before the 1980s acid rain treaty with Canada.

Yet hilariously
Stephen claims that models provide hard evidence of AGW. No doubt he believes in the adage "consistency is the hallmark of small minds".

I say if the Democrats really want a carbon tax we call thier bluff and offer to...
...trad the carbon tax for the hated income. You vote to eliminate the income tax and we will vote start a carbon tax.

What is that I hear Democrats saying Global Warming will not be that catistrophic after all. Hmmmm. They just love that income tax.

Roy, you are not
going to get any arguments from just about any of us here about the futility of energy from ethanol. Stated simply, ethanol is energy from burning plants (with a few conversion steps in between). What are fossil fuels? Concentrated fossilized plant matter packaged for more convenient combustion. Why would one assume that raw plant matter makes any significant improvement over the fossilized version?

Energy Policy and the Common Defense
"The politics of global warming and the alleged oil/terrorism link are creating the conditions for an orgy of rent-seeking relative to energy."

Rent seeking is a feature of government...all governments have it. The founders planned to minimize rent seeking by defining a limited Federal Government with enumerated powers. Many of these federal constitutional powers are somewhat general and not fully delineated...such as establishment and commerce. One of the better defined powers is...defense. Currently, billions (possible hundreds of billions) of tax payer dollars are being expended on protecting America's oil and gas supplies. These costs are NOT reflected in the price of gasoline, but instead in your tax bill. And just as bad, our dependence on imported oil is financing the very enemies that we are spending enormous sums to defend ourselves against. The result...monopoly energy pricing and precarious security.

The optimal way of reducing defense expenditure and improving security is a long term policy of transportation fuel diversification. Reduced defense expenditures in the long run would more than likely offset the start-up costs (research, subsidies) required for implentation. In addition, when our economy is no longer dependent on hostile countries for energy supplies, we virtually eliminate the chance of a disasterous economic shock that might develop from a prolonged and significant reduction of supply caused by war or natural disaster.

Rent seekers are an unfortunate disease that infect all government bodies. Their impact is best controlled with properly written and implemented legislation that is carefully overseen by Congress. However, avoiding the inevitable rent seekers is no justification for the President/Congress to avoid their constitutional responsibility to defend America. If our goal is to eliminate rent seekers, we must eliminate all government. If our goal is the common defense, then energy diversification should be a top priority for the next two to three decades.

How can you decouple the two events?
Le meme chose

Your wrong
I am an academic research scientist working in atmospheric chemistry and analysis. I am expert in the process of nonradiative energy transfer post absorption of optical energy.

I now the scientist who are working on global change data collection. The physical science and atmospheric chemistry measurements are solid.

You can make up any story you want. I don;t really care. But when you start to lie and confue the public, that's where as a citizen I must step in and put a stop to the nonsense.

I am not posting on this blog as a scientist. I am posting as a concerenedcitizen who knows a heck of a lot more than people on this blog.

Cap, auction and trade
While I am a happy warrior advocating Pigovian taxes, I have no objection to cap and trade as long as it comes with a critical twist that eliminates the well-deserved "rent-seeking" charge.

That twist is that there are no quotas "handed" out. Instead, there is an annual auction where GHG producers bid for the right to emit. Once purchased, the rights can be freely traded in secondary markets.

Lots of details to sort out (What is the "unit" that is bid for? Tons of carbon? Tons per year? Are the quotas annual or multi-year?) But there is no rent-seeking.

this is funny
" The references are to blog sites and op-eds. I couldn't find anything that was not speculation."

This from the guy who cited Mother Jones to prove that Exxon is funding all of the climate deniers.

Parsing words.
""The cause of this climate change is unknown," he states matter of factly. There is no basis for saying, as most do, that the "science is settled."

"Global warming is a fact and there are hard scientific models and measurements to prove it"

But what is the cause?

Ethanol and Oil Serfdom
“Why would one assume that raw plant matter makes any significant improvement over the fossilized version?”

There are a multitude of differences…listed are a few:
1) Plants can be grown, reengineered and grown some more indefinitely, while oil is a finite resource.
2) Biomass energy can be produced within the friendly confines of the US, while imported oil must come across the oceans to us from hostile countries such an Iran and Venezuela.
3) Combusting one gallon of gasoline directly emits 19 pounds of co2, while the combustion of one gallon of ethanol is carbon neutral.

With enough time and investment (I would guess by 2015-2020), liquid fuel from biomass will be cheaper and have equivalent energy density to gasoline. The electrification of private transportation is the best medium term solution to oil dependency. Biomass fuels can play a large role in fueling the generators that charge the batteries that run the EV’s that free Americans from oil serfdom.

models and facts
And just what are these hard scientific facts?
The arctic was warmer back in the 30's and 40's. Ground based temperature readings are hopelessly polluted with the UHI to be of any use, plus as you go back more than a few decades, they all start using the max/min recording method, which is useless for extracting average temperature. Finally, there are only 2500 such sensors to cover the 197 million square miles of the earth's surface.

The models are wrong because when they attempt to forecast current conditions using historical data, they get current conditions wrong. Badly.

It's interesting that you claim that economic models are worthless, yet you claim that we need to complete rework the world's economy based on climate models. Why infinite faith in one model, yet zero faith in another?

now that's a rousing defense of your defenseless claims.
The old, anyone who disagrees with me is a stupid moron, therefore I don't have to defend myself debate technique.

No wonder you think Mother Jones is a reliable source of information.

you can claim to be anything you want, but your actions show otherwise
Yea, your a world class scientist, yet you believe that the purpose of peer review is nothing more than spell checking.

stephen's overweening sense of self importance
A while back, while he was still small 's' stephen, he told a tale of how flying from Europe to the US, he sat next to a pretty young thing, whom he tried to impress by telling her about all of his advanced degrees.

After listening to him go on about himself for a few minutes, she interrupted him to ask how much someone like him made.

Stephen concluded his little morality tale by telling us this PYT was the reason why he left the US for Europe, becaue over there, people appreciated smart people like him.

supplies of alternative energy
There's only so much energy being produced via alternative energy sources.

If algore uses all of it up on his palace, then there's less for others to use.

So those other people are forced to use more of that "evil" fossil fuel, or sit in the dark.

Gettin' ENRON with it.....
For those who still haven't figured out this get-rich scheme, the WSJ editorial board explains:

care to specify which portions of the US defense bill is for protecting oil supplies?

Interested in
your working hypothesis.

The simple beauty is that
proven scientific reasons for anthropogenic greenhouse gases causing global warming have been know since the 1800's. These radiometric laws are known to be accurate. This has been known for quite some time.

What has improved is our ability to measure and our knowledge of factors affecting the measurements. People who do not work in measurement science just don’t get how much progress has been made in this area over the last 10 to 20 years. These pale climatology studies are monumental, excellent research projects with many checks and cross-checks. Very impressive what we can measure now.

On the other hand, the economists do not have hard-fast laws by which to make prediction. Predictive economics is speculative at best, and more likely a crap shoot.

So to read someone arguing against science based on economics is absolutely comedic!

Having worked with and opposite the environmental movement for much of my career, Gore is a classic do as I say not as I do limousine liberal. If he really wants people to listen to him then he has to walk the walk.

Gore needs to get the lumber mill out of his eyes and the eyes of his advisor before he preaches to the rest of us. He is an good example of the northeastern rich elite. Yes, he was born in Tennessee but didn't grow up there.

The Earth is warming but the scientific debate is far from over.. And if it is not over then how to manage or mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases is in for even more heated debate. Economics will play a major roll, especially when the average American begins to appreciate what "fixing the problem" is going to cost in taxes, increased living expenses and lifestyle change. Human, especially Americans are adaptable but not when change is shoved down their throats as is coming.

Someone is this thread described models as hard science, indicating they do not have a real understanding about numerical and computer models to start with and certainly have no appreciation of the complexities of global climate models. Models are only as good as their assumptions, the quality and timeline of input data, and their completeness relative to describing the most relevant processes. Real temperature data are limited in time and geographical distribution. Carbon dioxide data are even more limited in time and space. But that isn't the single biggest unknown. As we all should have learned in grammar school 75% of the Earth surface is ocean. Until relatively recently the only input into most models was the air-water interface. Besides the Sun the single biggest influence on our climate are the oceans. The part of the Earth we have the least data are the oceans.

Another in this thread also suggested that greenhouse gases are pollutants. They are not, they have long been a major and important constituent of the gases that make up the Earth's atmosphere. Without them we would not exist.

And just what are these hard scientific facts?
You apparently know some cherry-picked facts. WHo put those together for you?

The one fact that you ought to pay attention to is that you spout the same rhetoric as the nay-sayers and not that of the scientists.

Pay attention to that.

If you want to claim you know the science, learn what the scientists are telling you.

stephen proves yet again, that he is no scientist
Even when challenged, he can't provide a single fact that proves that catastrophic AGW is happening, much less imminent.

The best he can do is insult those who disagree with him.

Oh yes, he repeats his patented lie that the definition of a scientists is one who believes AGW is going to kill us unless we do something immediately.

Everyone else is a bought and paid for "nay sayer".

I am listening to what the scientists are saying. I wish you could claim the same.

Economists have lots of reasons
and hind sight is 20/20

Prediction is an altogether different thing.

I can predict with science. Each time I do a well-designed laboratory experiment, I show science works.

Not so with the economy. Heck, if economic theory was all it was cracked up to be, our economy wouldn't be declining right now.

stephen proves he is no scientist, again
He claims that the processes that control the atmosphere are completely known and can be modeled accurately.

That claim alone demonstrates that stephen hasn't a clue as to what he writes. He just spouts rhetoric from his favorite ideological sites without trying to think to hard.

Since you know so much, you should already know that the CO2 that has gone into the atmosphere to date, should have warmed the earth by about 1.0C degrees. Yet the earth has only warmed about 0.6C. And most of that comes from the sun and UHI.

So, great and mystical stephen, where has the rest of the warming gone? Some of it may be going into the oceans, but on the other hand, they cooled significantly between 2003 and 2005, yet the dumped heat did not make it into the atmosphere. Where did it go?

Can you explain why the earth has not warmed since 1998?

more errors from the master of errors
the economy is not declining.
the stock market tanked for a few days, but the stock market is not the economy.

Putting your money where your mouth is...
... is a lot different from asking someone else to put their mouth where your money is.

Or to put another way, it's the difference between buying influence and leading by example (although Gore could go a long way to doing that by being considerably more energy-efficient himself.....)

a gallon of ethanol is hardly carbon neutral when it's not a net energy source. In any event, CO2 is released, so no net benefit in emissions.

Finally, it's futile. Crop off the entire US agricultural land and you get about 10 days fuel supply. Congratulations, you now have no food. Great idea.

Try to think
before you open your yap. Your claims about coal and loss of life are simply idiotic. What was the average western lifespan 200 years ago? Now, what is it today? Why? Because we substituted coal for wood and machines for animal power and electricity for burning candlefat.

Perhaps next time you might remember your high school mathematics principles and resolve both sides of the equation, not just the one you are politically interested in.

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