I consider myself agnostic about whether or not global warming is happening, and whether or not it is caused by action of man. I’m an insurance salesman and blossoming politician, not a climate scientist. I’m not qualified to make any judgment on the merits of studies and research in the area. At the same time I’ve been around long enough to recognize a conflict of interest when I see one…
Now since I don’t want to be accused of being “anti-Science” (because I’m not) let’s just do a thought experiment where we assume that climate change is happening, and it’s caused by the actions of man. So now what? What are we going to do about it?
From what I’ve read “cap and trade” is an approach being considered by Congress for action. In my view there are three problems with this approach:
1) It’s incredibly expensive
2) The results are not truly measurable. We don’t have two parallel universes where we can implement cap and trade in one, and not implement cap and trade in the other, and see if the policy really stabilizes the climate.
3) Cheaters will prosper. If the U.S. implements environmental policies, but other large industrial nations do not, then our reduction in energy consumption will only serve to lower the cost of energy so they can consume more. The net effect will be that the amount of carbon released into the environment for the whole planet earth stays about the same.
So, if we are going to assume the economic cost of cap and trade we do it on faith that it will work, and have to implement a massive world-wide police state with the U.S. in charge to stop cheaters. The police force itself is expensive and constitutes a centralization of power that could be used for less than noble purposes. The cap and trade approach fails my cost-benefit test.
My hope is that things aren’t as bad as some are predicting. The climate changes all the time, and, according to climate scientists, has been changing for millennia even before humans were around to burn carbon. As an encouraging example, Google, which affirms “climate change is happening, humans are a cause and it is a problem”, shows with their $1.9B purchase of New York City office space that they are not overly concerned about sea levels rising in the near future. Frankly, neither am I.
In conclusion my environment position is that I favor individual efforts to limit pollution as personal acts of good aimed at providing positive environmental externalities from the giver to his or her fellow citizens. I do not support comprehensive environmental policy mandates from the government.