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How terrible to be right about climate change

Summary:
The Guardian wants all to know that it’s just terrible, horrible, that think tanks and the like might say the right things about climate change. Even, that people give money to people who say the right things about climate change:Google has made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington despite its insistence that it supports political action on the climate crisis. Among hundreds of groups the company has listed on its website as beneficiaries of its political giving are more than a dozen organisations that have campaigned against climate legislation, questioned the need for action, or actively sought to roll back Obama-era environmental protections.Actually, the argument is over what to do. One example of this horrendous denialism is given

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The Guardian wants all to know that it’s just terrible, horrible, that think tanks and the like might say the right things about climate change. Even, that people give money to people who say the right things about climate change:

Google has made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington despite its insistence that it supports political action on the climate crisis.

Among hundreds of groups the company has listed on its website as beneficiaries of its political giving are more than a dozen organisations that have campaigned against climate legislation, questioned the need for action, or actively sought to roll back Obama-era environmental protections.

Actually, the argument is over what to do. One example of this horrendous denialism is given here:

We must keep temperature increases to 1.5°C or less.

William Nordhaus, the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in economics for his work on climate modeling, says our target should be 3.5 degrees C or less. Nordhaus argues that the 1.5 C target is simply "infeasible," as the cost of mitigating potential climate damage would be 10 times higher than the benefit.

Perhaps the actual numbers can be argued with but the underlying point remains. It’s even the cornerstone of both the IPCC reports and the Stern Review. There are costs to not dealing with climate change, there are costs to dealing with climate change. The correct course of action is the greatest benefit at the least cost. This does indeed mean not killing industrial civilisation by 3 pm this afternoon.

To be more domestic about matters there’s also this:

Despite a longstanding international consensus among climatologists that human activity is accelerating climate change, the IEA’s publications throughout the 1990s and 2000s heavily suggested climate science was unreliable or exaggerated. In recent years the group has focused more on free-market solutions to reducing carbon emissions.

Those more free market solutions being the imposition of a carbon tax. As Nordhaus, Stern, Quiggin, Weitzman, the IPCC and every economist who has ever looked at the problem all agree upon. If the problem is a problem then the solution is to impose a tax of the social cost of carbon emissions upon emissions. This is the agreed science of climate change.

It’s amusing to be derided for following the science, isn’t it?

To even more amusement the same newspaper, The Guardian, on the same day, carries these two reports:

The billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson has scrapped plans to build an electric car after deciding the project was not commercially viable.

If electric cars are not commercially viable then that promise, that plan, that everyone will have them by 2025, 2030, 2040, whatever that demand is, isn’t going to work out well, is it? We might even need to use another method than planning upon the arrival of something that won’t work.

Then there’s the IMF:

Avoiding dangerous global heating will require governments around the world to impose stringent taxes on fossil-fuel usage that will mean a 43% jump in household energy bills over the next decade, the International Monetary Fund has said.

The Washington-based Fund said the battle against climate change could only be won if the average carbon tax levied by its member states increased from $2 (£1.63) a ton (907kg) to $75 a ton.

The solution to climate change is a carbon tax at the social cost of carbon. Just as the IPCC, the Stern Review, Nordhaus, Quiggin, Weitzman and every other economist has been saying. They’ve even, to a reasonable level of accuracy, given the same number for that social cost as Stern did back in his Review.

The IMF even echoes a point we here at the ASI have been making for more than a decade:

Calculations by the IMF’s economists show that a $75-a-ton carbon tax would also lead – once inflation has been taken into account – to an average 214% increase in the cost of coal and a 68% increase in natural gas. For the UK, the increases would be 157% for coal, 51% for natural gas, 43% for electricity and 8% for petrol.

The UK already taxes petrol roughly the correct amount to beat climate change.

The Guardian is attacking us all for being right on the matter. Which is indeed amusing, isn’t it?

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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