Thursday, October 05, 2006

Climate Change Again

Bringing this subject up again has been prompted by this Survey of the environment which seems to contradict its own previous conclusions of just a couple of years ago (especially re Lomborg conclusions). The survey has concluded that the precautionary principle should apply and has implied a lifting of carbon reduction priority in comparison with the Copenhagen Consensus. Part of this reasoning is that some forward predictors seem to be becoming more accurate. Also, some things that will probably reduce CO2 overall are potentially costless (with that I mean global Carbon trading *NOT* voluntary measures). I am a little disturbed that "the Economist" seems to have taken up the paradigm of the environmental scientists and seem to have forgotten that there is more to making the world a better place than stopping global warming.

Anyway, I just wanted to clear up that the reason I, as an individual disagree with voluntary reductions for the benefit of the environment. It is thus: The "net" result of an individual taking the trouble to reduce say fossil fuel usage is not the associated reduction in usage due to market factors. In practice, the non-use of a resource, means that there is more for "someone else" to use. Me using less water during a drought means that there is less pressure for everyone else to use less water. Net result: I needn't have bothered putting myself out. The costs of voluntary reductions are real, substantial, but invisible. 99 times out of a hundred the net result seems positive, but the reduced demand gives an equal and opposite reaction that reduces the price of the resource such that the net usage is the same as it would have been without the measures. If you can understand the crux of the argument - this is why I rail against the promotion of selflessness and voluntary reduction measures. It is a huge exercise in self-congratulation and kidding oneself.

On Carbon trading however, even though I don't see much point in the environmental priority of it but there is one HUGE plus with global carbon trading. People will see that "Globalisation" is a force for good. Trade of EVERYTHING should be global, including carbon emmissions.

3 comments:

Dr. Clam said...

I do think your post exhibits a 19th century robber baron mentality. If nobody moderates their usage of a rare commodity, the price rises, and those least able to afford the price go to the wall, like casual agricultural labourers in Bangladesh in times of food scarcity. However, if those who can well afford the price of oil, or water, or rum truffles, voluntarily moderate their consumption, it will reduce the price for those who find it difficult to meet the cost of these commodities. Thus voluntary reductions are an elegant mechanism for wealth transfer without the interference of pesky governments and NGOs.

Marco said...

Yes. And for THAT reason voluntary reductions have worked to reduce pressures on poverty now that you mention it. Coupled with the fact that I don't really care about the non-environment improving net results anyway, I should really be in favour of them with more than a bit of logic twist and irony. This however has to be balanced with priority being thought compared to the other things that I do as an individual that meay improve the world.

Dr. Clam said...

Don't worry, your questions are coming through fine! For some obscure networking reason that is unclear to me, I can receive but not send emails from my home address...