The Consequences of Doing Something

By February 24, 2007Global Warming

In a blog entry on European plans for reducing carbon emissions, Joel Schwartz, a visiting fellow at AEI and really a smart analyst of matters environmental, makes an observation about global warming that, after reflection, is all-too-obvious. Unfortunately, it’s also all-too-often overlooked.

Public debate over climate change has tended to focus on the risks of not doing anything to address it. But trying to do something about climate change also entails risks. Many environmentalists and politicians would like to suppress energy use, with potentially grave consequences for the world’s prosperity. Equally worrisome is the possibility that a world fossil-fuel-suppression regime would create the mother of all cartels, with legions of corporations, lobbyists, bureaucrats, and politicians vying for a share of the spoils at the expense of the world’s consumers.

If maximizing future human welfare and prosperity is the goal of climate change policy, we need to be talking about the risks of doing something in addition to the risks of doing nothing.

A valuable point, Joel. Wonder why we see it so rarely made.