Realistic Skepticism About Copenhagen

In his editorial, “Climategate and Copenhagen: History as farce”, Robert Robb discusses exactly the core issues at stake in the current climate debate. They are not about denial of climate change or of human impacts to climate change, but rather about the extent of those impacts, and most importantly about the validity and wisdom of the proposed “solutions” like Cap and Trade”

After discussing the recent “Climategate” e-mails Robb suggests:

Even before these revelations, there were reasons to be circumspect about what was known about the effect of industrialization on global climate. There is, first of all, the hubris of believing that human beings can concoct a series of mathematical equations in a computer model that fully duplicate the interactions within the earth’s atmosphere…….

Then there is the inconvenience of counter-indicative trends. The emails reveal frustration with not being able to explain the global cooling that has been going on since 1998. But that is not the first uncertainty. There was a much longer cooling trend from the 1940s to the 1970s. So, for a fairly large portion of the industrial age, global temperatures have been going down, not up.

He goes on to the responsible perspective on all this:

That is not to say that greenhouse gases are not something to worry about. We know that the pre-industrial age atmosphere worked. We know that emitting greenhouses gases produced by industrial age activities changes the atmosphere. And we know that as the developing world industrializes, greenhouse gas emissions will increase, on the present course dramatically.

Even most climate change skeptics agree that greenhouse gases interact with the atmosphere in ways that tend toward higher global temperatures. The disagreement is mostly over the magnitude of that influence compared to other influences and natural variations in climate, and the advisability of various policy options to address it.

He goes on to address all the very real reasons that Cap and Trade is doomed to fail in its intended climate impacts as it has already proven to fail in Europe. Robb supports the responsible solution favored by economists across the political spectrum as well as those serious about climate solutions like NASA scientist James Hanson – a revenue neutral carbon tax.

A revenue neutral carbon taxes don’t involve massive giveaways to corporate campaign contributors or allow regulators to manipulate the economy to favor campaign contributors, so the unfortunate political reality is that no real or effective solutions for limitting carbon emissions are likely to be considered, no matter what one thinks about the risks of climate change.


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Filed under Climate Policy, Energy Policy

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