Treason Against The Planet Or Treason Against The Economy?

Posted on Thu 07/02/2009 by

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By Nick Loris

After the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill narrowly passed the House of Representatives (219-212), Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman, an avid supporter of global warming legislation, expressed his discontent. His concern was not with the bill but those who voted against it. In his New York Times column Krugman says,

“And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.”

Another economist, Don Boudreaux, who is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University, responded to Krugman in his usual style – a letter to the editor. Boudreaux responds,

“Paul Krugman asserts that those of us who oppose government regulation to deal with climate change are committing “treason against the planet” (”Betraying the Planet,” June 29).

It’s more accurate to say that Mr. Krugman is committing treason against reasoned debate. One of the most compelling arguments against climate-change regulation is not that global warming isn’t occurring but, rather, that the dangers of further regulation far outweigh its likely benefits. Government regulation inevitably is a political animal; it’s never guided purely, or even largely, by disinterested science.

Is it treasonous to worry about the influence of interest-groups on regulation? Is it treasonous to fear that centralizing more power in Washington will result in unforeseen negative consequences? Is it treasonous to believe that the threat to our well-being posed by further constraints upon markets is worse than is the threat posed by higher temperatures?”

The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis modeled the economic effects of the Waxman-Markey climate legislation and found that it will

* Reduce aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) by $9.4 trillion;
* Destroy 1,145,000 jobs on average, with peak years seeing unemployment rise by over 2,479,000 jobs;
* Raise electricity rates 90 percent after adjusting for inflation;
* Raise inflation-adjusted gasoline prices by 58 percent;
* Raise residential natural gas prices by 55 percent;
* Raise an average family’s annual energy bill by $1,241; and
* Result in an increase of $28,728 in additional federal debt per person, again after adjusting for inflation.

And the benefits? Climatologist Chip Knappenberger modeled the climate effects of the Waxman-Markey climate legislation and found the regulations would only lower temperatures by only hundredths of a degree Celsius in 2050 and no more than two-tenths of a degree Celsius at the end of the century.

Krugman also goes on to say: “To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research. The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.”

Distinguished, skeptical scientists writing an open letter to Congress tend to disagree. They write,

“The sky is not falling; the Earth has been cooling for ten years, without help. The present cooling was NOT predicted by the alarmists’ computer models, and has come as an embarrassment to them.”

In any event, the scientific debate should be a moot point because Waxman-Markey blatantly fails the cost-benefit test.

Contributing Author Nick Loris writes at The Heritage Foundation and he is a Research Assistant at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies.

Read more informative articles at Heritage – The Foundry

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