Monday, April 20, 2009

The unintended consequences of regulating carbon dioxide emissions 

The best article you will read on why it is not merely futile, but counterproductive, for rich countries to struggle to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide. Teaser:

We rich people can’t stop the world’s 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach. We can’t even make any durable dent in global emissions—because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast, because the other 80 percent of humanity desperately needs cheap energy, and because we and they are now part of the same global economy. What we can do, if we’re foolish enough, is let carbon worries send our jobs and industries to their shores, making them grow even faster, and their carbon emissions faster still.

We don’t control the global supply of carbon.

Ten countries ruled by nasty people control 80 percent of the planet’s oil reserves—about 1 trillion barrels, currently worth about $40 trillion. If $40 trillion worth of gold were located where most of the oil is, one could only scoff at any suggestion that we might somehow persuade the nasty people to leave the wealth buried. They can lift most of their oil at a cost well under $10 a barrel. They will drill. They will pump. And they will find buyers. Oil is all they’ve got.

Poor countries all around the planet are sitting on a second, even bigger source of carbon—almost a trillion tons of cheap, easily accessible coal. They also control most of the planet’s third great carbon reservoir—the rain forests and soil. They will keep squeezing the carbon out of cheap coal, and cheap forest, and cheap soil, because that’s all they’ve got. Unless they can find something even cheaper. But they won’t—not any time in the foreseeable future.

Print it off, and read it all when you have a quiet moment to yourself.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 21, 12:22:00 AM:

... And each of the world's 5 billion people is a direct carbon dioxide producer. Hmmm ...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 21, 12:56:00 AM:

From Link:

Good piece.

What it shows is that growth in CO2 emissions in the emerging and third world is the real driver. We in the US could all go live in tree forts and it wouldn't make enough difference in the global scheme over the next couple of decades. In fact, if the US cuts its domestic energy production, it will likely be replaced by even dirtier foreign production.

If you believe global warming is a threat to the planet -- and that it's man-made -- you can't not conclude that there are just too many people on earth. This logic would justify -- nay require -- our eliminating half the people on Earth ... maybe more. So who do we eliminate. Any volunteers? How about it Al? ... lead by example.

We're about to declare CO2 the equivalent of a carcinogen -- I get the message ... I'm an enemy of the planet, because I'm breathing.

Tip of the hat to Anon 12:02 for saying this in one line.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue Apr 21, 06:45:00 AM:

Although, of course, the respiration of people and animals does not lift new carbon out of permanent sinks and dump it into the atmosphere. It simply cycles the carbon that is already in the cycle. But the people lift the oil, coal, and wood out of the permanent or long-term (in the case of wood) sinks in which it has been sequestered for hundreds of millions of years. Just saying.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Tue Apr 21, 07:06:00 AM:

We could concentrate on attacking the science and logic of the C02 proposal while we miss the elephant in the room.

This isn't about science.

This isn't about global warming.

It's about global socialism, political control and power.

The conservative movement needs to get this message out and stop this cabal in it's tracks.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 21, 07:49:00 AM:

From Link

I breathe ... therefore I pollute. I add to the global burden every time I breathe. My CO2 is no different than the CO2 from your car or some cow's flatulence.

I'm skeptical about global warming -- but if you have the facts you could convince me of almost anything. As I've told my kids ... there was 5,000 feet of ice sitting on our yard just 30,000 years ago. The Little Ice Age just happened. No one has given me a scientific explanation for this ... and it has nothing to do with man. Sunspots or deforestation strike me as more plausible explanations than our driving cars. Coincidence isn't proof of causation.

I agree with JPMcT. This is political. If the threat were so real and without argument Al Gore wouldn't live in a 30,000 foot home, Obama wouldn't be flying in pizzas from St Louis and U2 wouldn't be embarking on a world tour that takes 120 trucks to transport the stage.

If you declare C02 a poison you have a legal tool to regulate anything and everything ... even how many kids I should have.

Meanwhile Obama is pushing an agenda that won't reduce CO2 a wit ... but will make us poorer. Que pasa?

Obama is the Sleep of Reason ... it breeds monsters.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 21, 11:39:00 AM:

"We rich people can’t stop the world’s 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach."
Carbon emissions is not the issue, it is the screen. The issue is the people! Third worlders need carbon and energy, true, but the key issue isn't all that carbon but the fact that the earth's population will increase from the current 6 billion to 9 billion by 2050.
No socialist wants to attack population growth in the third word. The easier approach is to limit growth in the developed countries and shift their wealth to the third world with three card monte efforts liike cap and trade.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Tue Apr 21, 01:02:00 PM:

The article comes from the typical skeptic position that people in rich countries should be allowed to pollute more than people in poor countries. If you drop that position and assume per-capita national allotments with a fixed year baseline that punishes population growth and emigration, you have the basis of a deal. Rich countries will continue for many years to pollute more than poor ones, but will have to pay for the privilege.

Enforcement of defectors will be through carbon tariffs. Not even China can industrialize by itself.

In other words, the article has no legs to stand on.  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Tue Apr 21, 02:54:00 PM:

A feebleminded observation: 100 yrs ago the atmosphere was 99.997% CO2 free. Today it is 99.996% CO2 free. To anyone with an iota of common sense, this cannot be a problem.  

By Blogger David M, at Tue Apr 21, 03:32:00 PM:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 04/21/2009 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Apr 21, 10:40:00 PM:

"should be allowed to pollute more than people in poor countries."

This entire line of thinking is wrong. As any student of government can tell you, there is no international sovereign who is capable of telling rich and poor countries what they are or are not allowed to do and then making sure that they do or don't do it.

Europeans, for instance, violate Kyoto provisions. Blasphemy. They have also begun to regularly violate EU budget constraints that they designed themselves. What are you (or anyone else) going to do about it? They're sovereign powers. 'Tariffs?' That's a good way to start a trade war and chip away at the currently peaceful international order. And they'll still ignore you. They'll just be more hostile.

Or didn't the 1990s Iraq sanctions fiasco teach anybody anything?

"punishes population growth"

Already been done, and has set up places like China for a demographic disaster. Too few children to support their aging parents, and there are far more men than women. Chinese men have already resorted to kidnapping foreign women in neighboring countries just to find a wife. Similar demographical problems haunt Japan, Italy, Spain, Russia, and other advanced nations, and will seriously and perhaps fatally afflict these societies within the next two generations.

Your willingness to advocate reckless policies that seriously alter and may even destroy societies as we know them in the name of what is essentially a doomsayer religion is worrying.

Although less so when I remember that they are utterly unachievable on the international level. Just here at home...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 22, 07:27:00 AM:


Dawnfire and I agree. Wow, doesn't happen every day.

This week Waxman is holding hearings about how to totally f*ck-up our domestic energy industry. It could turn out to be the single worst thing that Obama & Co. do, which is saying a lot. McCain is highly critical, but no one wants to listen to an old washed-up loser.

Instead we rather debate waterboarding. My paranoid side says that Obama released the papers on interrogation when he did as a distraction from energy and banking,where he's pushing his agenda this week. Understand there's little in what came out that we didn't already know.

Once again, we're being played.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Wed Apr 22, 07:43:00 PM:

Dawnfire - compensatory tariffs are allowed under existing WTO rules and are the true enforcement mechanism against unilateral protectionism. The idea is to bring carbon regulation under the same treatment.

So yes the proposed system is enforceable, just as it is under the existing trade regime.  

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