Monday, May 25, 2009

Lomborg on Climate-Industrial Complex

Bjørn Lomborg had a piece in the WSJ last week that made some important points.

Some business leaders are cozying up with politicians and scientists to demand swift, drastic action on global warming. This is a new twist on a very old practice: companies using public policy to line their own pockets.

The tight relationship between the groups echoes the relationship among weapons makers, researchers and the U.S. military during the Cold War. President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned about the might of the "military-industrial complex," cautioning that "the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." He worried that "there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties."

This is certainly true of climate change. We are told that very expensive carbon regulations are the only way to respond to global warming, despite ample evidence that this approach does not pass a basic cost-benefit test. We must ask whether a "climate-industrial complex" is emerging, pressing taxpayers to fork over money to please those who stand to gain.

This phenomenon will be on display at the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen this weekend. The organizers -- the Copenhagen Climate Council -- hope to push political leaders into more drastic promises when they negotiate the Kyoto Protocol's replacement in December.

The opening keynote address is to be delivered by Al Gore, who actually represents all three groups: He is a politician, a campaigner and the chair of a green private-equity firm invested in products that a climate-scared world would buy.

Naturally, many CEOs are genuinely concerned about global warming. But many of the most vocal stand to profit from carbon regulations. The term used by economists for their behavior is "rent-seeking." …

The partnership among self-interested businesses, grandstanding politicians and alarmist campaigners truly is an unholy alliance. The climate-industrial complex does not promote discussion on how to overcome this challenge in a way that will be best for everybody. We should not be surprised or impressed that those who stand to make a profit are among the loudest calling for politicians to act. Spending a fortune on global carbon regulations will benefit a few, but dearly cost everybody else.
Several pages of comments at Opinion Journal Forum.

This by way of Jerry Pournelle, who says:
The Climate Industrial Complex is the most dangerous organization in the world, and in my judgment is up there with Fascism and Marxism as dangers to Western Civilization. Those latter two are still around and still a danger -- indeed, some Greens use tactics they could well have learned from the Brown, Black, and Red terrors; and note that most of the Climate Industrial Complex program (which will transfer a trillion dollars and more to the Greens without any noticeable benefit to the civilization) is also the agenda of powerful factions of the US Congress and the Administration. It is hard to discern what Obama really believes, but he appears to be a convert to the "consensus".

Nature isn't cooperating and it's getting harder and harder to support parts of the "Climate Change" belief system, but the movement is so far advanced that it may not matter. When Roosevelt tried to end The Great Depression, one of his tools was TVA and the generation of energy. Without lower energy costs we will not climb out of our depression. It is important to make it clear that the debate is not over, there is no real scientific consensus on man-caused global warming, and destroying the economy in order to reduce CO2 output in the United States is all cost with almost no benefit. That debate must continue; and you may be certain, absolutely certain, that those who try to keep this a debate will be labeled "deniers" and denigrated as fools.
Typical of the effluent from Copenhagen is this from China:
China tells rich nations to cut emissions by 40 percent

BEIJING (Reuters) - Rich nations should cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels as part of a new global climate change pact, China said on Thursday, spelling out its stance ahead of negotiations.

The pact must ensure wealthy nations "take on quantified targets to drastically reduce emissions," said the statement, issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (, which steers Chinese climate change policy.

Developed countries should also give 0.5 to 1.0 percent of their annual economic worth to help other nations cope with global warming and curtail greenhouse gas emissions, China said in the document, laying down demands for a conference in Copenhagen in December meant to seal a new climate change pact.
Might as well ask for the moon even if all they want is a little piece of the green cheese. But with the watermelons currently in the government, they are likely to get all that and more. Somebody said, "The Constitution is not a suicide pact." But a treaty demanding a 40% reduction in carbon output, that is a suicide pact.

Al Gore is there, of course, sounding a Billy Mays-like note of urgency. "Buy now! Supplies are limited!" Actual quote:
“We have to do it this year. Not next year. This year,” Mr. Gore said. “The clock is ticking, because Mother Nature does not do bailouts.”
See what I mean? They want to ram this through before cooler heads (Hah! Cooler!) have a chance to get into the discussion.

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