Mark Twain once observed that he was not bothered by all the things that people didn’t know; he was bothered by all the things they know that just aren’t true. If he was alive, he could direct that comment to the former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson who is now speaking out as a climate alarmist.
On Sunday, Mr. Paulson had an opinion piece in the New York Times advocating a carbon tax. For someone who spent so much time in Washington, his naiveté about the way Washington works is breath taking. Does anyone really believe that Congress could restrain itself once it got its hands on a revenue raising mechanism like a carbon tax? Government has a voracious appetite for spending.
Mr. Paulson makes a carbon tax seem very simple and straightforward. It is not. Crony Capitalists who use their influence and money to lobby for laws and regulations that benefit them would work overtime to gain favored treatment that disadvantaged their competitors. Last year, The George C. Marshall Institute published a paper, A Skeptical Look at The Carbon Tax, which go to length to explain why a carbon tax is elegant in theory but dangerous in practice. The major factors against a carbon tax are termed “ The Five Circles of Carbon Tax Hell.”
In his opinion piece, Paulson states “We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked”. It sounds fine to argue that we are too dependent on carbon based energy but he fails to identify the commercially viable technology driven alternatives that would replace them. He also assumes that whatever we did would lead the rest of the world to follow suit. The beauty of being naïve is that you don’t have to face reality.
Both the International Energy Agency and the Energy Information Administration have made clear that the US and the world will be powered primarily by fossil energy for decades to come. There simply no alternatives that can support the level of economic growth that is needed for a growing population and to help lift about 1.6 billion people from the depths of abject poverty that inflicts high mortality rates on people struggling to survive.
The major sources of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has become and will continue to be China, India, and other emerging economies. They are not going to forego their growth to go down the road of folly.
Underlying Paulson’s support for a carbon tax is the belief that we are on the verge of a climate catastrophe. He must not have noticed that there has been no global warming, the cause of “climate change” in over 15 years. Those who subscribe to the climate orthodoxy and claim that the “science is settled” cannot provide a credible explanation for the pause and they turn a blind eye to the real reason—belief in a myth. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits that it does not understand climate sensitivity—the effect on temperature from doubling CO2—and has significantly reduced its estimates. Lower estimates mean smaller temperature increases. The underlying foundation for the climate change myth are a belief that human activities are the primary cause of warming over the past 60 years and in elaborate climate change models which consistently over estimate temperature increases and the extent of human impact on the climate system. The extent of over estimation has become an embarrassment to the IPCC. While all scientists accept that human activities affect climate, the recent pause is evidence that it is far less than asserted.
The US and developed countries have been on a path of decarbonization for sometime thanks to technology. Pursuing a course of technology, knowledge creation, and sound energy policy will provide the basis for addressing whatever climate we face in the future, independent of its causes which in time will be proven to be primarily natural variability.
This article appeared on the FuelFix weblog at http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/06/26/mark-twain-on-climate-alarmism/