There are two sorts of people in the world...

D6STVOUWsAEho1z ...those who divide the people of the world up into two sorts, and those who don't. I'm one of the latter :-), Tamino it would appear is one of the former:
When it comes to man-made climate change, there are two kinds of people: those who take it seriously enough, and those who don’t. Joe Biden says he has a climate plan, but everything I hear about it (from both Joe and his opponents) leads me to believe he’s in the second group: he doesn’t take it seriously enough. Not even close. Anyone who claims we can deal with the problem but avoid a “radical transformation of the economy” is a fool...
So that leaves poor old Joe Biden, me, Donald Trump and Antony Watts in the second group, whilst the Pure of Heart stand proud in the first group. This reminds me of something I'm actually able to find, just for once: Oedipus Tex, and other Choral Calamities. And to spell out the obvious: when it comes to man-made climate change, there are many kinds of people. One group of people - distinct from Trump and Watts and Tamino - are those including me who "believe in" GW but think the GND is not just stupid but would in the unlikely event of it being imposed be actively harmful; and at best a pointless distraction.

And, no. I'm not teaching you how to think for yourself, or even offering to.


* The Guardian view on a Green New Deal: we need it now - Editorial
Trump Calls The Majority Who Voted Against Him Enemies And Losers In New Year’s Message?
* Partisanship is no substitute for values - Rich Puchalsky


Tom said...

Oh, you had to say it. I have started a new weblog, a how-to manual for the Green New Deal. I do not (and will not) comment on whether it is good policy. I'm just trying to figure out how to do it, should that be the course decided on.


Phil said...

There are 10 types of people in the world.

Those that understand binary, and those that don't.


T seems conficted about his un-PC blog title.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

I think, Dr. Stoat, that if you believe that carbon taxes can be raised to the point that carbon emissions decline radically without radical transformation of the economy, you are quite mistaken. Quite aside from the fundamental question of whether carbon taxes can be significantly raised at all, we have the question of how exactly that radical transformation could take place. You, no doubt, as a worshipper of the Market God, think that that can safely be left to him. I doubt it.

William M. Connolley said...

> without radical transformation of the economy

You have missed my point. I don't think that "radical transformation of the economy" is necessary. I don't think, for example, that conversion from oil to solar-electric for cars would count as "radical transformation" of the kind that the AOCs of the world yearn for.

> https://thegreennewwave.com/


CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Actually, I think you are missing my point. What little I know about the GND suggests that some would like to use AGW as an excuse to introduce more socialism into the economy. I tend to doubt the connection with fighting AGW, but in any case that would just be another skirmish in the long running capitalism-socialism wars - hardly a radical transformation. The politics of how any solution, your's or AOC's, could be imposed is another matter. Either would require a massive exertion of state power. But that's also peripheral. Any change from fossil fuels to say, solar, constitutes a massive change in the energy basis of civilization. The half dozen* or so examples in the story of the human race have always been profoundly disruptive, often changing the entire pattern of society and economic activity. I imagine this change would too.

*Some examples, humans become skilled hunters, and spread over the whole world; agriculture invented - humans develop hierarchical societies, religions, slavery, cities, wars; wind powered sailing perfected - global trade, capitalism, colonialism; combustion engines - the industrial revolution, and so on.

William M. Connolley said...

> Either would require a massive exertion of state power.

I disagree that a carbon tax is "a massive exertion of state power". What AOC wants definitely would be.

> Any change from fossil fuels to say, solar, constitutes a massive change in the energy basis of civilization

It certainly constitutes a change. I'm doubtful that, in terms of the global economy, it is "massive". It won't be easy or trivial, but I think it is rather smaller than those currently running around like headless chickens shouting "12 years" seem to think. I think your analogies-from-the-past are somewhat flawed; the global economy has moved on; the energy infrastructure is less important - in that it is a smaller fraction of the total - than it used to be.

Phil said...

WC> I disagree that a carbon tax is "a massive exertion of state power".

Well, is it?

Certainly requires state power to collect taxes and spend/distribute the proceeds. But is it massive?

I suppose that might depend on what you think of as massive. Clearly not minor, like subsidies for solar electric or electric cars when both are tiny fractions of the economy.

The energy fraction of the economy is currently smaller because fossil fuels are cheaper due to extraction technologies improving. The first part of converting to non-fossil power might be fairly low cost, and perhaps even partly negative cost, such as example: smaller islands converting electric systems to solar with battery storage can be cheaper than diesel generators. The last part of conversion isn't going to be as cheap, low impact or low cost. After the transition the fraction of the economy involved with energy might well be larger, perhaps even much larger. This would require a larger exertion of state power.

Might require more than just politics and economics, how could the future world deal with a country that insisted on mining and burning coal? After economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure fail, then what?

It is a Commons problem.

If you view this as technology economics, rather than comic book economics, subsidies for non-fossil technologies would require less state power at the current time. Taxes probably should be designed to be implemented years into the future. Ah, but you want a simplistic solution. Carbon tax now!

Tom said...

Actually, I believe that a carbon tax is an (and perhaps the only) alternative to address climate change without a massive expansion of state power. Perhaps I'm missing something.

Phil said...


Consider a society with BAD thing having 99.9% market share. Good alternative having 0.1% market share.

Which involves a larger expansion of state power, a subsidy for the good alternative or a tax on the bad thing?

Tom said...

Seems to me like the subsidy for the good thing would be more of a distortion. OTOH, I would advocate doing both--subsidizing renewables and taxing emissions. Is that the best of both worlds or the worst?

Phil said...

> Seems to me like the subsidy for the good thing would be more of a distortion.

Why is the subsidy, and not the tax, a distortion?

Consider that the bad thing does damage to society and isn't charged for it. Isn't that a distortion to have no tax and no subsidy?



David B. Benson said...

Apply the Schroedinger equation.

Phil said...


About 2% of the vehicles sold are EVs. Growing rapidly, but will take decade or more to reach 50%.
Displaced about 0.25% of gasoline and diesel burnt in the USA. Will take two decades or more to displace 50% of the fuels burnt.

Which is easier, subsidizing 2% of vehicles sold? Or taxing 99.75% of fuel sales?

Tom said...

Again, why not do both?

Andy Mitchell said...

I read today that a new airport is to be built so people can fly in to see Machu Picchu. It seems to be that the first job is to get people like this to give a shit.

William M. Connolley said...

Making people give a shit is too difficult. Instead, one should internalise their externalities.

Phil said...

Which "one" is going to do this? Some King?

Or do you mean "we" should internalize our externalities?

steven said...

we have to stop agreeing like this Stoat

Paul Kelly said...

Carbon taxes no doubt are the best government imposed solution, but it isn't a real market solution and has little or no chance of being enacted anywhere important in the next decade. Only about 20 percent of citizens n democratic countries will willingly pay a carbon tax even as low as $10/month. That same 20 percent can effect a real market solution by collectively becoming consumers - the most powerful force in a market - of energy reformation.

Toby said...

At the moment, it does not matter a sh!t about the Green New Deal or sensible carbon taxes, because no one has the political power to do either.

AOC is a first-term Congresswoman, Joe Biden is a Presidential candidate. Neither have the power or authority implement any sort of change.

If adopting the GND is a vehicle to implement change, and attracts votes, then I am for it.

William M. Connolley said...

> it isn't a real market solution... can effect a real market solution by collectively becoming consumers

I don't think that's right. Absent any (central-authority-imposed) carbon tax or equivalent, the costs of GW are not reflected in market prices, and so the market won't solve "the problem". Absent that pricing, "becoming consumers of energy reformation" is a non-market solution. Carbon taxes is one of the situations (see, e.g. Hayek) where rational people should accept binding restraints on everyone (taxes) in order to provide a better overall outcome.

> If adopting the GND is...

There are two strands to that. One is, "is the GND (non-GW aspects) good or bad?". To me, it's bad. Others see it as the main attraction and the GW just an excuse. I'm pretty sure that most Repubs will say bad, and many Dems too, so I think it unlikely to garner support. That's if you take it seriously, of course. If it's just a "direction of travel" then maybe Dems will like it too. The other is, "is it's solution to GW so worth while that it is worth supporting anyway?" I think not.

The alternative view is I think well summarised by ATTP: the GND is mostly aspirational, and I certainly don’t have any major problems with the intentions (healthcare, education, providing energy through zero-emission sources, etc). However, I mostly think this is beside the point. The success of the GND (and extinction rebellion in UK, and climate strikes elsewhere) is that it’s got people talking and it’s led to climate change being very prominent in the mainstream media.

I am unconvinced by that, though (the naive view that the GND will deliver on it's facile promises of education etc I think foolish; the idea that all it is is "aspirational" I find repellent, and I don't believe it: AOC really does believe all that junk).

Tom said...

I’m a big fan of a carbon tax–but it can’t be the only thing we do about climate change. Because it works.

People make ambitious plans for the money such a tax will raise. Long term plans. And then it works and there are fewer emissions and less money from the tax. And people get annoyed.

Paul Kelly said...

The cost of GW can be reflected in the market by consumers voluntarily buying fossil fuel replacement. An as rapid as possible deployment of fossil fuel replacing technologies and efficiencies is the one and only solution to the problem of atmospheric CO2. So, how do we get the invisible hand to deploy, deploy, deploy? A carbon tax seeks to indirectly encourage deployment by making fossil fuels more expensive. There may be much to be said for the carbon tax as a way of factoring in the externalities. That benefit does nothing to speed deployment.

Collective, targeted consumerism speeds deployment from the get-go. It doesn't even take a lot of people to get started.