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June 29, 2006

Jonah Responds

But not very convincingly. Here's the nut of it:

I think Ezra is desperate to misconstrue my point so that he can wag his finger and whine about mean and dishonest conservatives. My point was simple. The American economy depends on fossil fuels and the world depends on the Amerrican economy.

Jonah appears to cede the point that precisely none of his examples are particularly related to the consumption of fossil fuels, and thus his markers of American economic leadership would survive a drastic increase in CAFE standards. Even so, this doesn't much help him. He'd now have to prove that the health of the American economy relies on our refusal to, say, deploy a serious carbon tax, or vastly raise CAFE standards, or embark on a serious conservation effort. He doesn't prove any of those things because he can't. As economists believe a serious anti-emissions effort would cost us about two tenths of a percentile of GDP growth over the next couple of decades, his argument remains astonishingly unconvincing. The only interpretation I can see making sense is that liberals should show a bit more gratitude to the combustibles that made our economy what it is, but that sort of begs the question why coal-rich China and oil-rich Venezuela are stuck playing catch-up.

Indeed, Jonah undercuts his own point when he wonders if I'd be willing to switch our high-tech sector from coal-generated electricity to nuclear. I sure would, and by admitting that there are non fossil-fuel related ways to power our economy, he demolishes the point of his original post -- that our economic leadership relies on fossil fuels. Many thanks, Jonah.

Cross-posted at Tapped

June 29, 2006 | Permalink

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"As economists believe a serious anti-emissions effort would cost us about two tenths of a percentile of GDP growth over the next couple of decades, his argument remains astonishingly unconvincing"

Cite please

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jun 29, 2006 5:19:15 PM

Krugman:

"There's some dispute among economists over how forcefully we should act to curb greenhouse gases, but there's broad consensus that even a very strong program to reduce emissions would have only modest effects on economic growth. At worst, G.D.P. growth might be, say, one-tenth or two-tenths of a percentage point lower over the next 20 years. And while some industries would lose jobs, others would gain."

Posted by: Ezra | Jun 29, 2006 5:26:46 PM

Thank you.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jun 29, 2006 5:46:18 PM

Okay, my citeless instinct says Krugman's numbers (which probably aren't his) are optimistic by a magnitude, if the goal is to move away from a carbon-energy economy. But, hey I could be full of it. So I go learn, starting Here

However, if it is that cheap and easy, the implications of why it isn't being done would put my paranoid conspicacy theories to shame.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jun 29, 2006 6:32:20 PM

ezra
you are able to maintain great self-restraint, civility and intellectual focus in presenting factual argument.
...i admire the composure and ability to stay above the fray in these times.

Posted by: jacqueline | Jun 29, 2006 7:30:17 PM

Well the final rebuttal post from Jonah is correct in 1 thing. The post article does misconstrue the report to say that the US contribution to total world CO2 is 45%. Where the chart actually states that figure only relates to total world light vehicle emitions. His DOE link does indeed relate that 'only' 25% of world CO2 emitions are ours.

Note that 4% of the world population is representing 25% of direct emissions. This is also ignoring that with our trade deficit a large portion of emissions in other countries like China are directly related to our import of cheap but ineffieciently produced goods.

Jonah's opinions while they may bear some truth also ignore significant amounts of it at the same time. While we may lead the world in several sectors as he alluded it is not funded by us, and with that our economic 'leadership' begins to be questionable.

We are certainly the country that spends the money, and benefits the most from the economic sectors he mentions. However we fund our excessive spending and resource use with a huge national debt, once that it owned to a large degree by foreign countries. According to The Cia Factbook in 2004 44% of US debt was owned by foreign countries. We are spending money that isnt ours.

We cannot attain energy independance on our current course and the continued import of that enerfy is good for only 1 thing. That is to export american money to maintain our lifestyle. We do not have the resources within our borders to sate our energy needs.

If we were to invest and attain energy independance, based where possible on renewables we could start in on paying for the lifestyle we lead. The work of doing that would lead to job production and offset some of the cost of the endeavor. Who is it that people like Jonah think makes the 'armada of the very best windmills in the world' of which he speaks?

Posted by: david b | Jun 29, 2006 7:47:43 PM

"As economists believe a serious anti-emissions effort would cost us about two tenths of a percentile of GDP growth over the next couple of decades, his argument remains astonishingly unconvincing."

I hate to bring up framing here, but, really! Are all liberals daft!

The whole reactionary Right frame, where there is a trade-off between environmental responsibility and economic growth/welfare/jobs is a complete and total crock, people. Don't concede it now or ever, please.

Sure, putting off costs on someone else is a road to private riches; you profit when the costs of what you do are paid by someone else. That's Business 101, summarized: "Crime pays, if you don't get caught." Duh.

But, we're not talking about addressing global warming because we are altruistic and impractical.

If we don't do something fairly dramatic about global warming in this decade, responsible scientists warn, the costs during the rest of this century are going to lop a good deal more than 2/10th's of one percent off economic growth. Economic growth is going to stop dead, people. A 5 degree warming of the planet's atmosphere is going to result in "economic growth" becoming an historical curiosity.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder | Jun 29, 2006 8:14:36 PM

"Why should I care about posterity? What has posterity ever done for me?" ...Marx,Groucho

The question is about how, and how difficult it will be, to sell it. "Gotta do, or you're all gonna die" may work. As the basic costs of maintenance rise due to, well, hurricanes, heat waves, flooding rise...

Hell, we are barely currently able to keep social security alive, and y'all don't think there will be a problem. I think we need a revolution.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jun 29, 2006 8:33:56 PM

My own figures agree with the lower range of Krugman's, if the changes are made over 30 or so years. If we are lucky and improved technology results in significant decreases in the cost of low emission power, then the cost will be even less.

Posted by: Ronald Brak | Jun 29, 2006 9:13:52 PM

Given that the main climate change initiatives currently in place elsewhere in the world - emissions trading and subsidies/incentives for clean energy - involve promoting libertarians' two favourite things, markets and technology, you'd think they'd be all for it.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Jun 29, 2006 10:49:48 PM

Given that the main climate change initiatives currently in place elsewhere in the world - emissions trading and subsidies/incentives for clean energy - involve promoting libertarians' two favourite things, markets and technology, you'd think they'd be all for it.

They would be if it weren't like astrology.... Lots of coincidence, but no definitive proof.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Jun 29, 2006 10:56:49 PM

I'm gonna be the baby here and say it: PWNED!

Posted by: Jimmm | Jun 30, 2006 8:18:45 AM

Jonah: I'm not saying we couldn't be better.

Then where is the argument? Really. It almost seems like two people arguing the same point. Except one I know actually wants to do better.

Posted by: Adrock | Jun 30, 2006 10:18:38 AM

"Lots of coincidence, but no definitive proof."

The subsidies, or libertarianism?

Posted by: Kylroy | Jun 30, 2006 10:19:55 AM

Interesting. I look forward to the day when the Christian fundamentalists annoint Nicolaus Otto and Rudolf Diesel as Jesus' own 19th Century apostles.

Posted by: sglover | Jun 30, 2006 11:21:39 AM

They would be if it weren't like astrology.... Lots of coincidence, but no definitive proof.

I'm not even going to bother telling you why you're full of shit until you first direct me to the many studies showing a non-trivial statistical correlation between astrology and the things it purports to explain. I mean, there have to be studies like that, or you wouldn't have compared it to global warming...right?

Posted by: Tom Hilton | Jun 30, 2006 12:14:21 PM

...direct me to the many studies showing a non-trivial statistical correlation between astrology and the things it purports to explain.

It's all perception, m' boy...perception. Any astrologer worth their salt will show you coincidence, and without any studies.

I don't have studies as to why you're such a prick, either, but the perception is there, nevertheless.

You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows

----Bob Dylan: Subterranean Homesick Blues

Posted by: Fred Jones. | Jun 30, 2006 5:33:16 PM

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