The nub of AD's analysis is "The U.N.’s latest climate report shows that we don’t know how expensive the climate crisis will be, which means cost-benefit analyses weighing how to combat it are pointless". The new report is really quite long though, and AD doesn't provide any quote from it demonstrating that his assertion is true, so I think that very basic step can be regarded as Unproven (do feel free to provide a suitable quote in the comments). Furthermore, if we genuinely had no idea how expensive it would be, we would have no basis for action at all (a quote below shows this isn't true). However, let's assume that the IPCC (why has AD switched from "IPCC" to "UN"? Odd; perhaps he is trying to put off the right wing nutters) does indeed say that; why would it demonstrate that economic thinking, including CBA, is pointless? His end point is revealing in this regard: As the latest IPCC report says, “The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.” Do we really need a cost-benefit analysis to convince ourselves to address this threat? Taken all that at face value, no, we don't need a CBA to decide to do something. But we do need a CBA to decide what to do. Because a large number of solutions from different people are proffered, and we cannot do them all; and many of them, whilst appearing brilliant and obvious to their proponents, appear stupid to others. How shall we decide what to do? Shall we just accept arbitrary diktak? Or should we do... that which involves least use of resources?
I have said this before - but cannot now find it, so will have to repeat myself - that avoiding economic thought is often a way of saying "do what I want". Which is generally bad.
AD's prime example of why CBA is bad is During the Obama administration, the social cost of carbon... was estimated to be $35. The Trump administration altered some of the assumptions that led to his estimate, particularly how much they valued future generations versus ours, and how much they valued people outside the U.S. versus those who live in America. They estimated the social cost of carbon to be as low as $1. But this was politics, not economics. Calling CBA bad because of Trump is just dumb.
Is there any virtue to AD's piece at all? If there is, it isn't the quoting Franta bit. His discussion of "Obama’s climate bill" isn't great either: although, as he notes, some made hyperbolic claims about the costs, he is firstly wrong to attribute those claims to economists: they were made by pols. Secondly, he is wrong to assert that reality disproved those claims: since the bill didn't come into action, we'll never know what costs it would have had. Thirdly, as he mentions but doesn't think about, even without the bill the aims of the bill were achieved. So all those making hyperbolic claims about how necessary the bill were, have been proved wrong by reality. My guess is that AD would have been one of those people, but I can't be bothered to find out.
* Make Desertion Fast by Bryan Caplan
* A Populist Attack on Big Tech by David Henderson
* What Should Economists Do Now? by Mikayla Novak
* The Age of the Judicial Thoroughbred aka Benjamin Barton’s The Credentialed Court.
* The Actual Food Problem - via Timmy. Not sure it is, but "fertiliser used to be 55 per cent of the cost of his business, but will now be near to 80 per cent..." is interesting.