Friday, May 23, 2008

A simple heuristic for evaluating Global Warming Policies

From A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies by William Nordhaus

Whether someone is serious about tackling the global-warming problem can be readily gauged by listening to what he or she says about the carbon price. Suppose you hear a public figure who speaks eloquently of the perils of global warming and proposes that the nation should move urgently to slow climate change. Suppose that person proposes regulating the fuel efficiency of cars, or requiring high-efficiency lightbulbs, or subsidizing ethanol, or providing research support for solar power—but nowhere does the proposal raise the price of carbon. You should conclude that the proposal is not really serious and does not recognize the central economic message about how to slow climate change. To a first approximation, raising the price of carbon is a necessary and sufficient step for tackling global warming. The rest is at best rhetoric and may actually be harmful in inducing economic inefficiencies.

I have not read this book but this quote summarizes my position. This is quoted in an interesting article by Freeman Dyson. Dyson is often labeled as a global warming sceptic. It seems to me he admits the problem, but is sceptical about how to tackle it.

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