Jun 21, 2008

Climate change economics

What (if anything) do you do now to fight global warming that you didn’t do two years ago?

Since I believe that global warming is largely natural, and not man made, I don’t do anything to “fight” global warming since that would be futile. But to the extent that we will need to eventually move away from carbon based fuels, I am helping to spur the investment in new energy technologies by consuming as much as possible today. Increased consumption builds wealth and that wealth will be needed to fund the R&D into alternative energy technologies. And the second thing I do? Encourage others to do the same.

It would be exceedingly difficult for me to go without: air conditioning in the summer, heating in the winter, a good filet of beef on occasion, gasoline to go wherever I want, and everything else that we use in life that requires energy … which, last I knew, includes everything. But since doing and using all of these things will encourage new investments in energy technology (see above), I’m happy to report that I don’t need to give up anything!

My question is is this argument valid? Should I reduce my carbon emissions or not, since, by consuming more of it, I increase its price and encourage others to reduce their consumption...

This answer is from Roy Spencer, author of Climate Confusion and the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. It appears along other people on freakonomics who tell us what they think of climate change.

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