‘Global Warming and Hot Air’

By February 7, 2007Global Warming

Bob Samuelson continues to be one of the most respected commentators around, because of his raw intellect and his willingness and ability to call a spade a spade, even when it’s against the political grain. Here’s a a link to an op-ed he has in today’s WaPo by the above title, on one of our favorite topics, global warming.

Samuelson’s point is that while global warming — one degree over the past hundred years — is likely real, some future predictions are more dire than warranted. But more importantly, there is nothing we can do that will have any meaningful impact. All the political solutions are more or less bromides to make the politicians and the populace feel better.

He notes that even the most optimistic assessments based on the adoption of the most aggressive measures will not eliminate but only shrink the growth of CO2 emissions. He points out (as others have) that China will pass the US as the largest source of CO2 by 2009. As for a “cap and trade” system of carbon emissions, there’s this:

“…[I]n practice, no plausible “cap and trade” program would significantly curb global warming. To do that, quotas would have to be set so low as to shut down the economy. Or the cost of scarce quotas would skyrocket and be passed along to consumers through much higher energy prices. Neither outcome seems likely. Quotas would be lax. The program would be a regulatory burden with little benefit. It would also be a bonanza for lobbyists, lawyers and consultants, as industries and localities besieged Washington for exceptions and special treatment.”

He makes the pitch for newer technologies — a view we support. We invent and make ’em, after all. We depart from wise man Samuelson only to the degree that he stubbornly keeps pushing for a higher gas tax. Remember that hits the poor disproportionately but also from our perspective, it hammers manufacturers and those who bring our goods and raw materials to and from the market. This will only make us less competitive in the world.

Samuelson will be interviewed on our weekly radio show, “America’s Business” this weekend on this topic. We’ll put up a link to it here tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a link to today’s op-ed, speaking a most inconvenient truth.