Should the Judiciary Be Making US Climate Policy?

In the usual way of such headlines, the answer is No. The link is from twatter, the original in Forbes from Nives Dolsak and Aseem Prakash. What do they have to say? Our key point is that asking the judiciary to mandate climate policies might have the unintended effect of concentrating policymaking power in the judiciary, thereby affecting the long-term health of the US democracy. What a brilliantly insightful suggestion, one I've never heard before. Well done for originality chaps. In more detail:
The US constitution outlines the separation of powers in Articles 1-3. It vests the legislative authority with the Congress. The executive branch is supposed to implement the law, while the judiciary is expected to interpret it. Yet, it seems that with the judicialization of politics, the judiciary is accumulating more policy power than what the constitution intended. In the context of climate policy, we focus on two issues: the inability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California regulators to agree on automobile tailpipe emission standards and the Juliana case, where citizens are petitioning the judiciary to mandate a climate policy.
This of course has been done to death elsewhere, most obviously in Alsup but elsewhere: people, desperate for progress because they can't get their faves through Congress, try an end-run with the Judiciary. A nice try if you can do it, but of course it leaves you vulnerable to the bad guys doing the same thing.

Our authors, in their discussion of Juliana-like stuff carefully avoid mentioning Alsup, because it answers their question, and where would talking heads be if questions were actually answered? So let's look at the emissions standards. This one is delicious, as such things often are, and this aspect is new to me: California, as we know, has strict emissions standards which often become national defaults due to the size of the Californian market. They have a "waiver" from the EPA from the Clean Air Act allowing them to set stricter-than-national standards, on the grounds of the particular nature of their pollution1. The Trump administration, desperate to pump CO2 into the atmosphere, would like to remove the waiver. But, can they? This is exactly the kind of question that does belong in the supreme court, so I think our authors are on dodgy grounds arguing the courts should keep out. Someone called Jonathon Adler argues that Trump probably can remove the waiver, for GW type stuff, since the "special conditions" argument doesn't apply to GW. I'm somewhat doubtful on more basic grounds, since it isn't clear what powers the Feds have to restrict State law, except as permitted by the constitution, and I'm not sure what they're claiming in this case: the articles I've seen don't mention this. JH points out the irony of... there is something odd about an administration that has proclaimed its support for “cooperative federalism” now bending over backwards to preclude individual states from making their own regulatory decisions.


Happer, Koonin, Lindzen vs Alsup
Mass starvation is humanity’s fate if we keep flogging the land to death?
* Two areas where I am out of step by Scott Sumner
* Historically Hollow: The Cries of Populism by Bryan Caplan
* A Delight in Despotism: The Case of Vaping by Pierre Lemieux
* Why It Must Be the People Who Preserve the Flame of Liberty by Barry Brownstein
* Should we ban bicycles in major urban areas? by  Tyler Cowen


1. As I hope is clear, this waiver stuff is new to me. Feel free to correct me (with sources) if I've misinterpreted it.


A majority of USAnians think someone else should pay for global warming

MVIMG_20190609_154809 In truely shocking news just in, it turns out that people would like someone other than themselves to clean up their own mess, just like children. Idiot Naomi Oreskes twat1 "A majority of Americans hold fossil fuel companies responsible for damages from global warming", and as far as I can tell she did this with a straight face. The survey is here; the most relevant quote is:
When asked more specifically about whether fossil fuel companies or taxpayers should pay for the costs of the damages caused by global warming, a majority of Americans (53%) think fossil fuel companies rather than taxpayers should pay for most or all of the costs. Only 12% of Americans think taxpayers and fossil fuel companies should pay an equal share, and just 6% think taxpayers should pay for most or all of the costs.
This is all wearily familiar. People won't face up to their own actions and want someone else to blame.

Update: Politics: loan sharks and abortions

Suddenly struck by a thought, I'll put it here. Left-wingers are generally keen on generally-available abortions, and right-wingers unkeen. Left-wingers correctly point out that making abortions illegal or unobtainable will do little to suppress demand, leading to people resorting to unsavoury methods. Now for the "analogy". I signal it so you won't miss it. Left-wingers are generally keen on schemes to cap interest rates on loans to avoid "predatory" lending, and right wingers correctly point out that cutting off a source of credit will not reduce demand, leading to those seeking credit to turn to less savoury sources. So in one case one side can recognise supply and demand and the inevitable logic, but are unable to apply it to cases where the answer doesn't favour their desired solution.


1. Past tense of the verb "to twit". No insult implied, of course.


Yet more bollox from Oreskes


Red team goes down

minty Day one was wet, torrentially so in the morning but merely a bit of rain by The Time. The Red Team went off well, the Yellow team were a shadow of last year's glory, and the Pale Blue team went down to the Minty Blue team who put in an impressively powerful display - a joy to watch. Unbeknownst to me the Purple Team pulled a blinder and got the Yellow team not far from the finish - unprecedented in living memory that far up -, setting up an exciting situation for day two. Which was similarly wet. The Purple team surprised no-one by going all out off the start but the Red team proved strong manly and unflappable, with the Purples fading and caught by another burst of raw power from Minty Blue; the Yellows fell further out of our range of interest. Day three, now sunny, was inevitable, though I won a fiver on it: the Minty Blues took down the Reds with more raw power and quality, and the Purples had nowhere to go. Day four saw the Minties well clear, the Purples as expected closed the Reds off the start whilst I looked elsewhere - at the deeper Blues and the deeper Purples and the still deeper Blues. And yet, there it was, just before the finish: the Reds down to the Purples.

oglaf-dick An allegory for our times, no doubt.

Meanwhile, we return you to our traditional "Red team" cartoon, because this nonsense is coming round again. Really, all I'm going to do is link to Gavin's post We watch long YouTube videos so you don’t have to, in response to some bloke called Steven "Steve" Koonin. But really, the Blue team have already won, which is why no-one dares to set up a Red team, since they're fully aware that it would be an embarrassing failure, as I said in February.


* The full playlist is here, but there's a lot in that, so you may prefer just day one, day two, day three and day four.
Digital legibility and incentives towards moral behaviors - TF
* Poke out one of my eyes by Scott Sumner
Trump White House shelves ‘adversarial’ review of climate science via RS



Does J R Oppenheimer ask: can science provide better models for democracy?

60789145_1163461953850123_1190781572601610240_n As with all good headlines, the answer is "no". The question "Can Science Provide Better Models for Democracy?" is asked by mt in a guest post at ATTP's. Fathering it on JRO is a little odd, as is doing it in such a way that you can't really tell so are forced to ask. This is perhaps a quibble, but I found it distracting. And indeed although applying-science-to-politics is clearly what mt is interested in, it isn't clear that it's what JRO is interested in; whether there are elements in the way of life of the scientist which need not be restricted to the professional, and which have hope in them for bringing dignity and courage and serenity to other men, can obviously be applied outside politics; even the social problems of the day and try to think what one could mean by approaching them in the scientific spirit… In short, almost all the preconditions of scientific activity are missing… can be.

However, I now drop that quibble and consider mt's question.

As usual with mt's stuff about politics, whilst I find it interesting and stimulating I also find it almost completely wrong. One piece of wrongness, although not the most important, is Ah but come back those twenty years later, and who has made progress? The scientific landscape is utterly altered, while the political landscape is the same mess. It is certainly true that not all political problems have been solved, but then the same is true of science. But politics progresses: the percentage of those living under democracy has increased in the last 20 years, and is part of a long upwards curve. Extreme poverty is decreasing. General acceptance that all people have equal fundamental "rights" spreads. And so on.

But the main wrongness, to me, is the familiar one: the desire to have govt do stuff for you. If you look at science and at politics, and despair for the progress of pols compared to science, then one reaction is to try to import some science-y-ness into pols; but another is to have govt do less. It hasn't done a very good job (the decrease in poverty, for example, is due mostly to trade / globalisation / captialism, not govt) so the best thing is to have less of it. Sadly, one of the failures of politics since the 1980's is to appreciate the likes of Thatcher and Hayek.

Related to that is Our present problems seem rooted in a lack of ecumenism, a stupid failure to see the commonality of our collective fate... It’s one world. It thrives or fails as one. This is also not really true, and the sort of thinking that leads to top-down failed stuff like Kyoto. Trying to co-ordinate a world that thrives or fails as one is too difficult; problems can only be solved by being broken down into smaller pieces. Thinking of the world is great, as an abstract concept, of course.


* Electricity from Large Dams Does NOT Count as Renewable Energy by David Henderson
GOP support for Trump has moved from transactional to fanatical
Governed by Imbeciles
* Beware the Candidate with a Plan by Bruce Yandle
Why don’t people pay attention to the future of their own world?
Not everyone cares about climate change, but reproach won’t change their minds
* The 7 Worst Ideas for Regulation This Century by David R. Henderson