• The Global Warming Church vs. SuperFreakonomics, Part III

      Last Friday, SuperFreakonomics co-author Steven Levitt addressed the Global Warming Church’s criticism of his suggestion that geoengineering -- not carbon legislation -- could solve global warming:

      If we need to cool the Earth in a hurry, what is the best way to do it?

      ... Reducing carbon emissions is not a great way of cooling the Earth in a hurry for two key reasons: (1) even if we cut carbon emissions today, the Earth will continue warming for decades; and (2) reducing carbon emissions is expensive, with a price tag of at least $1 trillion per year …

      A much better approach, we conclude, is geoengineering …

      I don’t know enough about geoengineering to conclude that it’s the best solution.  But because Levitt and Dubner approach their question like economists, using data and logic -- not emotions and political orthodoxy -- their ideas deserve a fair shake from environmentalists.

      However, in today’s Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens explains that Levitt and Dubner’s alternative views offend Al Gore and the Global Warming Church so much that they just won't listen:

      ... [W]hen it comes to the religion of global warming -- the First Commandment of which is Thou Shalt Not Call It A Religion -- Messrs. Levitt and Dubner are grievous sinners. They point out that belching, flatulent cows are adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than all SUVs combined. They note that sea levels will probably not rise much more than 18 inches by 2100, "less than the twice-daily tidal variation in most coastal locations." They observe that "not only is carbon plainly not poisonous, but changes in carbon-dioxide levels don't necessarily mirror human activity." They quote [Nathan] Myhrvold as saying that Mr. Gore's doomsday scenarios "don't have any basis in physical reality in any reasonable time frame."

      ... But perhaps their biggest sin ... is pointing out that seemingly insurmountable problems often have cheap and simple solutions. Hence world hunger was largely conquered not by a massive effort at population control, but by the development of new and sturdier strains of wheat and rice. Hence infection and mortality rates in hospitals declined dramatically as doctors began to appreciate the need to wash their hands.

      Hence, too, it may well be that global warming is best tackled with a variety of cheap fixes … Alternatively, as "SuperFreakonomics" suggests, we might be better off doing nothing until the state of technology can catch up to the scope of the problem. All these suggestions are, of course, horrifying to global warmists, who'd much prefer to spend in excess of a trillion dollars annually for the sake of reconceiving civilization as we know it …

      If environmentalists actually cared about solving the problem, you'd expect them to at least rationally debate the merits of geoengineering. That they so rabidly attack Levitt and Dubner suggests that they care more about the opportunity to control people. After all, what fun would it be to solve global warming if they don't get to tell everyone what to do?

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      Global Warming