The climate “controversy”

Unfortunately, the alarm on global warming was originally sounded by strongly committed environmentalists, many of whom were (and still are) equally strong opponents of capitalism, industry, business, and economic growth.  Their idea of a solution to the problem of GHGs was to stop using fossil fuels on a crash basis, switching to solar and wind power on a massive scale.  By any reasonable set of calculations, complying with those recommendations would have meant voluntarily and intentionally creating a global depression much longer and more severe than the one we suffered in the 1930s.

Not surprisingly, politicians, businesses, and the general public were less than eager to adopt such drastic measures, and many people preferred to ignore or deny the evidence that the problem even existed.  The clear ideological bias of the most vocal environmentalists made it all too easy to disparage the science itself as a radical left-wing hoax, even though most of the scientists doing the hard work of collecting and analyzing the data did not share that ideological bias.

What is often missed in this whole controversy, however, is that unchecked global warming would also be a disaster for the economy, and that there are other ways to prevent it that would not inflict fatal damage on the economy.  A clear consensus is emerging among economists and policy analysts of both the left and the right that the gradual introduction of a refundable carbon tax would limit GHG emissions and move us towards a sustainable set of energy technologies without harming the economy or reducing growth in economic output.

Unfortunately, however, the legacy of distrust and exaggeration on both sides has poisoned the entire subject in the mind of the public, and it is difficult for rational arguments to get a hearing.  Creating a national and international consensus on how to deal with global warming is one of the most important problems we need to solve in order to cope with the Interlock as a whole and to maintain our economic leadership in the world.

 

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