A Carbon Tax Does Not Provide Redress for Any Alleged Property Right Violation from Global Warming

Guest post by Indur M. Goklany

no carbon tax

no carbon tax (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

In a piece in the Atlantic titled, “A Conservative’s Approach to Combating Climate Change,” Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University and, more importantly, an old friend, argues for, among other things, reductions in greenhouse gases, preferably via a carbon tax, supplemented by adaptation.

While I have many issues with Jonathan’s piece, I will focus here on the logical disconnect between his purported rationale for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and his policy proposals.

He states that, “Were I a utilitarian, and if I placed substantial faith in such cost-benefit studies, I might find [convincing arguments that global warming is not a serious problem because the net short-to-medium term effects of global warming may well be positive] but I’m not and I don’t.” In his discussion, he identifies poorer nations as more victimized by global warming than the wealthier nations because the former are less able to adapt. He argues that harm from global warming is tantamount to a violation of one’s property for which the victim ought to be redressed. He then argues that if we believe in property rights then there is no room for utilitarian calculus, and if someone’s property has been damaged then that person is owed redress by the party or parties responsible for that damage.

As remedies, he advocates four sets of policies and measures. First, the federal government should offer prizes to induce the development of low-carbon technologies. Second, it ought to identify and reduce barriers to the development and deployment of alternative technologies. Third, the US should adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax rebated to taxpayers—presumably, American taxpayers—on a per capita basis. As rationale, he offers a set of technical reasons, but for “a broader theoretical justification,” he argues, “if the global atmosphere is a global commons owned by us all, why should not those who use this commons to dispose of their carbon emissions pay a user fee to compensate those who are affected.” Finally, he would supplement the above policies with adaptation measures, e.g., greater reliance on water markets.

But none of these measures, including a carbon tax on American consumers, would make whole the party or parties supposedly harmed by global warming. This is obviously true if the tax is rebated to the American taxpayer. It is also true if it is rebated to the global taxpayer—or, for that matter, the Bangladeshi taxpayer—on a per capita basis (because not everyone would be equally harmed by global warming).

So I must ask Jonathan: how would your proposals remedy the alleged property rights violation and provide redress to the harmed party? Yes it punishes the American consumer, but how does it make whole the inhabitants of countries that may have been harmed. Also, how would you set a carbon tax, if not via a utilitarian calculus? Essentially, all estimates of the carbon tax, whether by Nordhaus, Tol, Stern or whoever, use cost-benefit analysis, that is, utilitarian calculus. [Don’t get me wrong, I probably have even less faith in these efforts than Jonathan does (1)].

1. Goklany, IM. 2009. Trapped Between the Falling Sky and the Rising Seas: The Imagined Terrors of the Impacts of Climate Change.

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67 Responses to A Carbon Tax Does Not Provide Redress for Any Alleged Property Right Violation from Global Warming

  1. Third, the US should adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax rebated to taxpayers—presumably, American taxpayers—on a per capita basis.

    The problem here is that the poor spend proportionately more of their income on energy than do the better off, especially in cool to cold climates. This is seen in the UK where increasing energy costs have led to widespread ‘fuel poverty’, requiring special payments to the poor in periods of cold weather.

    Grannies freezing to death in the dark, makes for poor politics.

    On an international scale it is more of the rorts, scams and outright frauds that plague the current carbon trading scheme.

  2. Kurt in Switzerland says:

    I don’t see anywhere in Adler’s piece which argues the case for “mitigation” as opposed to “adaption.” For if doing something (about anthropogenic GHGs) turns out to have little or no measurable effect on climate after all, won’t the time and money thus invested be a waste?

    Kurt in Switzerland

  3. michaelwfisk says:

    While it’s considered pretty mainstream economics to tax activities that cause negative externalities (so the consumers of those goods have to internalize the costs of the harms they inflict), there’s also the issue of being able to properly assess damages from the negative externalities. Assess the tax too low and the revenue collected won’t begin to address the harm to society, but assess it too high and the tax imposes a deadweight loss on society as people consume less of the taxed product than is socially optimal.

    The question then remains – what is the harm, in monetary terms, of carbon emissions? Nobody seems to have a good estimate, and the numbers go all over the place. It’s possible that in the intermediate term that the social costs of CO2 emissions are negative (due to increased crop growth), which means that a carbon “tax” would become a carbon subsidy. The precautionary principle that governs such calls for a carbon tax, however, is likely to err on the high side to estimate the social costs of carbon, causing precisely the economic damage that conservative skeptics argue would happen.

    (It’s also possible that federal gasoline taxes effectively encapsulate a Pigovian tax on carbon, assuming a social cost of about $20-30 a ton, but that’s tangential to the question of calculating the cost of the alleged damages.)

  4. George Tetley says:

    Jonathan Adler
    Before putting pen to paper, put brain into gear, ( old saying )
    Before putting pen to paper, read the last 12 months of WUWT and try and understand the comments ! ( logical )

  5. Caleb says:

    I understand it is snowing in Stockholm, Sweden, at the start of June? If I pay a politician extra taxes, will the Swedes warm up? (Warm Swedes are very nice.)

    http://notrickszone.com/2012/06/03/winter-returns-to-europe-stockholm-has-coldest-day-in-84-years-sweden-coldest-in-20-years/

  6. Brian H says:

    The base assumptions of CO2 caused warming, human control over CO2 levels, and long-term damage from warming/higher CO2 are fundamental to his position. Not one is adequately supported.

    The levying, collection, and distribution of the tax revenues he envisages, in any case, are subject to massive and inevitable abuse and misdirection.

    So his essay and argument hold up neither at the front end, nor the back. So the middle linkage between the two is irrelevant.

  7. Neville says:

    Adler should first look at where new co2 emissions are coming from, it’s not OECD countries but from the non OECD, led by China, India etc.
    The OECD countries have been flatlining for years while the non OECD countries emissions have been soaring. http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=90&pid=44&aid=8&cid=CG6,CG5,&syid=1990&eyid=2009&unit=MMTCD
    China and India etc have more than 1 billion+ people to drag out of poverty so good luck convincing them to cut emissions this side of the year 2100.
    Will these people ever wake up?

  8. j says:

    Relating to the US, taxing relatively energy-efficient manufacturers simply exports production overseas to less-efficient producers, who then ship their output to the US. Incurring additional transportation energy consumption.

    How does ‘mankind’ gain?

  9. All the above relies on the theory of GHG’s being correct and we are getting uncontrollable global warming caused by GHG’s.
    All observations show that the GHG theory sadly wanting and at present the planet is slowly cooling.

  10. mizimi says:

    Right.
    Since CO2 is a necessity for plant growth and the idustrialised countries are providing ( at this moment) it FREE to all those poor agriculturally based countries, thereby increasing their productivity – shouldn’t they be paying us? ( tongue now firmly centalised).
    If Adler is really concerned about the plight of 3rd world peoples, instead of spending shedloads of money on dealing with a non-problem, why not advocate cutting out the middle man and use the the money to increase foriegn aid? And while we are doing that ensure the money actually goes to benefit the people it is supposed to?
    Too easy?
    If you want to make people do something contrary to logic and common sense, first make them feel guilty. Then you control them because they don’t want to feel bad about themselves – irrespective of whether there is anything to be guilty about.

  11. David, UK says:

    Oh come on. As soon as someone – especially a politician – starts proposing ways to “combat climate change” you know they’re a charlatan and/or an idiot. Why read any further.

  12. spangled drongo says:

    To have taxpayer funded regulators trying to measure the unmeasurable and making mandatory claims against industry and farmers who cannot quantify their emissions seems like an irreconcilable activity that will cause lots of problems as well as an incredibly unproductive activity.

    What if ACO2 turns out to be a benefit to our burgeoning population?

    The birds in my garden are thriving on the extra worms from increased CO2.

  13. Manfred says:

    Does Adler define what he means by “harm?”

    New Zealand (NZ), possibly one of the first countries in the World to promote the concern that a causal association existed between cow methane emissions and CAGW, thereby creating a platform from which to announce the infamous ‘phart-tax’ on farmers. Did Adler consider the agricultural implications of his hypothetical views and the implication that carbon dioxide taxation on primary food production has the capability of increasing production costs thereby penalising those less fortunate?

    As an aside, the irony is that in NZ, after nearly a decade of silly ‘phart tax’ babble, that methane was a ‘mistaken’ assumption, and the real problem is the 20% increase in population! In truth, this really unpleasant, rarely articulated, dangerous agenda is usually side-stepped. Unusually, it now disturbingly finds mention in the main stream media. The thesis is that human population per se must logically attract a carbon dioxide tax. After all, we are lifelong biological emitters. Thus, countries with the highest populations could find themselves bearing a pro rata, per capita taxation. What I wonder, is Adlers’ view on this? After all he states: “if the global atmosphere is a global commons owned by us all, why should not those who use this commons to dispose of their carbon emissions pay a user fee to compensate those who are affected.” Under such reasoning, it might also be legitimate to argue that less populous nations are “more victimized” by the CO2 emissions of highly populous nations.

    I believe that it takes very little imagination to see where this reasoning leads.

    In the present reality where CAGW remains a regrettable and politically correct hypothesis used to justify a hitherto unprecedented and spurious assault by taxation and freedom, hypothetical policy discussions – even by ‘old friends’ are premature and might even be argued as grand-standing. The articulation of a ‘solution’ based on unsettled science merely serves to deflect from the turmoil of the present day. First, prove anthropogenic CO2 is causally related to AGW. Second, prove the run-away theory of CAGW. Third, prove ‘harm’. Fourth, prove the cost benefit ratio of mitigation, or the cost / risk ratio of impoverishment and primitivisation. In short, do the work before the policy.

    I also understood that the accepted present day term of ‘climate change’ had become the favoured cliché in preference to the considerably less obvious ‘global warming’? Were Adler to use ‘climate change’ instead of GW, one can see that his discussion appears to become considerably less compelling.

  14. DEEBEE says:

    He argues that harm from global warming is tantamount to a violation of one’s property for which the victim ought to be redressed
    ============
    There is an “after-the-factedness” to the paraphrae. Even if we stipulate all that is being bandied about the latest example of preening, we have to be able to prove a harm has happened (notices the ed at the end of the word), before compensating.
    A victim is compensated as a redress not as an address.

  15. polistra says:

    Law must start with facts. Adler is not using facts, therefore he should resign his post as “law” professor.

  16. John Silver says:

    “Combating Climate Change”

    This man is expressing paranoia, delusion and megalomania.
    Dump him and all the others in the loony bin.

  17. Australian carbon tax is due to start July 1, so we are sensitive about it.
    Adler makes a horrendous mistake in the interpretation of property rights by writing “if the global atmosphere is a global commons owned by us all, why should not those who use this commons to dispose of their carbon emissions pay a user fee to compensate those who are affected.”
    The atmosphere is a global commons owned by us all and therefore as users of it (by breathing and more) we ought to be paying for our use of it. Instead he recommends the opposite, that the average Joe gets money from someone who puts CO2 into it.
    Let’s have less confusion about who ought to be paid and payee.
    Same in Australia with carbon. The Prime Minister has said that miners do not own coal, it is a Sovereign asset. Yet she is about to tax those who add oxygen to it and give the tax to the general populace-in-need. Again, taxing the owners, being all people, should be the remedy – not paying them the proceeds of taxing others. Those others who might mine coal or make electricity do not own the coal, so how can they be taxed on a commodity they do not own? At what point (in law) does ownership of the carbon in coal pass from the Soverign state to an entity such as CO2 that is owned by those Parties and attracting tax?
    Property Rights are there to simply, not to complicate by abusive interpretation.

  18. Hoser says:

    How is redistribution of wealth in any way “conservative”?

  19. Rob MW says:

    So the “Nuisance” would be ………………….what ?……. The quantum of quantified and qualified Co2, the Sun, El Nino, La Nina or something like plain straight out Consumerism?

    And, the evidence would be……………what ?……no more than adjusted data and a hockey stick in sums equal to the sums of all imagination.

  20. Howard says:

    Are skeptics promoting anti-Semitism?! Warmists’ new claim: ‘Is global
    warming a major Jewish issue? It should be’ — ‘Israel will be no more
    if we do not stop global warming in its tracks now’. see Climate Depot on this. Developing….

  21. Garry Stotel says:

    “John Silver says:
    June 5, 2012 at 3:17 am

    “Combating Climate Change”

    This man is expressing paranoia, delusion and megalomania.
    Dump him and all the others in the loony bin.”

    The Old Pirate is right! He is also expressing extreme stupidity, groupthink, lack of original thought,
    lack of basic common sense self censorship and lack of common sense altogether.

  22. Bruce Cobb says:

    This is nothing but a back-door attempt, via government fiat, of forcing a switch from relatively cheap and reliable fossil fuels to far more expensive and less reliable alternative energies such as wind, solar, and biofuels, all based on pseudoscience.
    Adler piles poor logic upon faulty assumptions, and completely fails to consider the consequences of his proposal. His status as both a professor and a conservative are highly questionable.

  23. A carbon tax is just another socialist money grab that serves no purpose except to be used to buy votes and support. Why give any governmnet more money from the taxpayer when governments on a whole have proven they are not fiscally responsible with the money they have now – i.e. see Europe, the Obama administration, etc.

  24. philjourdan says:

    Third, the US should adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax rebated to taxpayers—presumably, American taxpayers—on a per capita basis.

    The problem here is that once the government gets it, then it is no longer the people’s money (even though the government is purportedly of and by the people). So the money would be spent on other pork, and the politicians would vilify those who deserve it as “giving” to the wealthy. Or in the case of business, subsidizing them.

  25. PeteB says:

    The principle of Pigovian taxation is well established as a free market based mechanism to correct for externalities. The tax isn’t there to compensate the people that are affected by the negative externalities but to ‘level the playing field’ as a market mechanism so that (in this example) the price of fossil fuels includes the cost of the anticipated damage that they cause, this, for example, would have the effect of making Nuclear Power more competitive.

  26. Alan Watt says:

    You can’t even discuss ideas to compensate people for global warming damage until you establish that “global warming” is (a) happening and substantially caused by human activities, and (b) causing actual harm. So far, all the harm and most of the warming is only evidenced in computer models.

    Further, if you’re going to hold the industrial societies liable for harm caused by their CO2 emissions, equity demands you also hold non-industrial societies liable for harm they cause by cutting down forests, slash & burn argriculture, soil erosion, etc. And you have to give credit to developed societies which maintain greenspace and other carbon-fixing features. Recent sattelite studies have suggested that the US is a net carbon sink. Who’s going to send us a check, China?

    Bottom line: nobody has established that warming we have actually experienced is harmful to anyone. Nobody has established the additional warming we can reasonably anticipate will be harmful to anyone. And the causitive link between human activities (CO2 emission) and actual warming is far more tenuous than the AGW crowd claim. Since no actual harm has been proven and no likely harm is pending, it is premature to discuss compensation remedies.

    All the claims of looming “tipping points” are just attempts to induce panic and thereby evade a reasonable burden of proof.

    In the language of the courts, the issue is not “ripe” for adjudication.

  27. JohnWho says:

    Quote: “Were I a utilitarian, and if I placed substantial faith in such cost-benefit studies, I might find [convincing arguments that global warming is not a serious problem because the net short-to-medium term effects of global warming may well be positive] but I’m not and I don’t.”

    You aren’t and you don’t, but you do acknowledge that it is a reasonable position.

    Further, you are saying “global warming is not a serious problem”, making the common mistake that most of us here abhor: equating “global warming” and whatever impacts it may/will have with “global warming caused by man’s CO2 emissions” – a concept that many do not place substantial faith in nor do we consider it a problem needing any sort of cost-benefit analysis.

  28. Gary says:

    “…Jonathan Adler, a law professor…”
    Well, there’s your problem.

  29. Andrew says:

    To the extent that the “ideal” policy, based on the studies which overestimate the negative impacts of climate change, is one of a low rate carbon tax, it’s not wrong to say that in a perfect world one might undertake such a measure. The problem is the assumption that, once handed a source of revenue, the government would keep the rate at the “ideal” position rather than raise it beyond that which is justifiable and therefore do more harm than good.

    However, such a policy is utilitarian in focus anyway, contrary to what the advocate in question seems to believe. If we frame this as a situation in which one’s individual property rights are violated by actions taken by others, the only appropriate area in which one might seek redress for one’s claimed grievances is in the court system, through litigation.

    PeteB says: “The principle of Pigovian taxation is well established as a free market based mechanism to correct for externalities.”

    You are kidding right? You may argue perhaps that such a policy makes sense, but that it is a free market mechanism? Surely you mean a market mechanism, as there is nothing free market about a policy of government intervention.

  30. Tom in indy says:

    An important point often missed is that all the man made CO2 we generated over the last 200 years provided U.S. consumers with the income to buy foreign made goods. South Korea and many other countries went from subsistence level to wealthy because the U.S. consumer purchased their export goods. WHY DO WE NEVER GET CREDIT FOR THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUCED POSITIVE IMPACT WE HAVE HAD ON THE WORLD WIDE STANDARD OF LIVING OVER THE LAST 200 YEARS?

    Entire societies have been lifted from the stone age to prosperity on the back of U.S. consumers and our cheap fossil fuel.

    Rather than handing out transfer payments from U.S. consumers to poor countries, we should focus n education and property rights. Dictatorships rarely lead to a prosperous middle class.

  31. Bruce Cobb says:

    @PeteB. I don’t know or care how “well-established” it is; in this case, it wouldn’t be so much leveling the playing field as it would be stacking the deck against fossil fuels. As for “anticipated damage”, that is a nebulous concept, based on pretty much nothing, subject to the whims of bureaucrats, politicians, and those out for their own monetary gain.

  32. cleanwater2 says:

    There is an experiment that proves that the Greenhouse gas effect does not exist. This experiment which has been peer reviewed by Ph.D physicists . Ph.D. Chemical engineers and others. The experiment is found on the web-site http:// http://www.slayingtheskydragon.com click on the blog tab. It is titled “The Experiment that failed which can save the world trillion-Proving the greenhouse gas effect does not exist”

  33. ferd berple says:

    j says:
    June 5, 2012 at 2:18 am
    How does ‘mankind’ gain?
    ========
    Those that make their livings skimming the top off the taxes benefit greatly. They are ever eager to promote anyone that furthers their cause. Ultimately this is about population control, not CO2. A global tax is irresistible in this respect.

  34. Jaye Bass says:

    I reject the premiss, so the rest is nonsense.

  35. Frank K. says:

    Hoser says:
    June 5, 2012 at 3:38 am

    “How is redistribution of wealth in any way conservative?”

    Adler is NOT a conservative – he is, in fact, a run-of-the-mill progressive.

    Remember that the climate industry is all about taking YOUR money and giving it to greedy climate scientists and eco-advocates (via “redistribution”). And note that these people always seem to receive their salary increases, generous benefits and bloated project/travel budgets while the rest of the economy suffers.

  36. ferd berple says:

    PeteB says:
    June 5, 2012 at 5:00 am
    this, for example, would have the effect of making Nuclear Power more competitive.
    =============
    But you would need to tax all nuclear produced power to include the damage to future generations from potential escape of waste products.

    Similarly, there should be a global tax on cell phones, due to the possible (likely) damage and increased medical costs due to RF and magnetic damage to human brains. Science knows full well that it is a bad idea to place RF and magnetic fields near living tissue.

    In fact, there should be a global tax on all power generation, and on the estate of Edison, due to the damage caused by the un-natural magnetic fields induced by AC power. This would allow us to shift rapidly from AC power generation to DC power generation, removing the hazards of induced magnetic fields.

  37. John B says:

    Applying the rule of property rights to property that does not yet exist and owners not yet born is simply nonsense. I suppose if the initial premise of catastrophic climate change is nonsense than only nonsense can flow from it.

    Generally in Law damages are paid to restore an injured party to the position the party was in before being harmed, On what legal basis can damages be awarded to compensate for a loss that has not been incurred and thus cannot be calculated or paid?

    There is no such concept as preventative damages in Law. As for speculative damages, not yet incurred but anticipated, these are only payable if the damaged party can prove they are reasonably likely to occur.

    In Law then, if you have been damaged by me, or think you will be, sue me – but do be sure to bring along plenty of evidence.

    What Adler is proposing is like saying that an individual must pay his neighbours damages because he is intending to get a dog which might at some future date bite the neighbours’ children which are as yet not conceived.

    The damages then being used to cover medical costs and/or prevent the individual from buying a large or fierce dog, or buying a dog at all..

    And as if that was not enough evidence of a remoteness from reality…

    Anyone promoting the notion that a carbon tax can be used to transfer wealth from richer nations to poorer nations for the overall benefit of the poorer ones, with no intended harm to the richer ones, clearly has not been following events in Europe and the Eurozone, where the transfer of wealth from richer Member States to poorer ones has been going on awhile, and the net result of which is the current economic meltdown of the recipients and the imperilled economies of the donors.

  38. ferd berple says:

    Howard says:
    June 5, 2012 at 3:49 am
    Are skeptics promoting anti-Semitism?
    ===========
    CO2 taxation is global taxation. Population control under another name. Practiced by the same people that believe the problem is that there are too many people on the planet.

    Their solution was called eugenics. Very popular in the US and Europe a century ago, the nation state of Israel was created as a direct result.

  39. This looks like a perfect example of assumerism in action- assuming that it has already been proven that CO2 determines climate and that, therefore, all one needs to do is propose (yet another) way to reduce our emissions of CO2. Nearly always these schemes are proposed by lawyers, sociologists, and other people with an equally poor knowledge and understanding of science.

    IanM

  40. FredericM says:

    Redistribution is conservative, just not politically. Give what you can, so to speak. Taxpayer protection without tort reform is nearly at arms length. No written law is worth the paper of a given claim without process of wrong doing.

    Hutterite colonies, at least some, seem to have found the working proposition of communal ownership – and shared benefits. But of course they as a colony group have a written law that can not be violated without grievous penalty. They share a common application of their constitutional biblical Law. This group has the necessary tort capability to muster compliance to their law inside of the colony.

  41. gail combs says:

    Caleb says:
    June 5, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I understand it is snowing in Stockholm, Sweden, at the start of June? If I pay a politician extra taxes, will the Swedes warm up?…
    ___________________________
    It is a cold 66F (19 C) in the middle of North Carolina at 10:30 am. The normal is 83F(28C) and the record is 99F (37C). The forecast is 75F (24F) to 85F (29F) for the next five days. ~ Now where is that Global Warming everyone is yelling about?

  42. Chris Riley says:

    It was quite heartening to see that at least one(michaelwfisk) person other than myself believes that it is possible that the net effect of CO2 emissions is positive. The beneficial effects of CO2 on average are clearly substantial (we get to eat) B.A. Kimball’s work indicates that it may also be substantial at the margin. We may need to replace Cap and Trade with a Burn and Earn program. We could supplement this with a program patterned loosely after “Cash for Clunkers” called “Crash for Cash” that would pay a reward for anyone who accidentally takes out a high mileage car such as a Prius in a wreck.
    We could pay for this with a Pigovian tax on the people who eat food, who have been free-riding on the motorist for too long.

  43. KenB says:

    I have a great many friends in the US, and have spent time visiting their homes and observing the US. When I first visited it seemed like consumer heaven, with three or four catalogues delivered to homes where you could just about buy anything. I salivated over the good quality tools at reasonable prices all made in the USA, and marvelled at the can do attitude and the great feeling of public spirit and pride at the great personal care of others, well kept cemeteries, and pride in looking after heritage and history.

    On my last visit I spent some time, concerned at the deterioration and destruction of many old icons like the big red barns, cleared for their lumber and to save on town taxes, what a loss, but even worse was to find that manufacturing of many of the tools had moved offshore. Investors had moved capital to India and China because it was said, that increasing regulation made investment unsure and as a result of capital shifting to investment in other countries, shoddy goods made it impossible to compete with cheap imports.

    We spent some time in North Carolina with wonderful friends and found that fine wood furniture was no longer manufactured there, the factories had shut. there was an air of neglect and poverty and this was bought home to me when I spoke with the owner of a shop stocked with fine leather shoes.

    He told me that he kept his business open and shelves stocked with quality goods, to give hope to his town, without hope of profits, as what he did sell or give away returned him nothing, but “the people should have good quality shoes available and appreciate them. He had been in business in the same town for near on 70 years and it was his way of trying to give back some pride to a town full of empty disused factories and long closed shops.

    That was pretty sad for me to see and understand, as at that time the general feeling among younger people in Australia was that the United States was some sort of golden goose to be mocked and ridiculed. Their own teachers were preaching a brand of socialism, that whatever the US did was bad, and Americans were riding on the backs of the poor of the world..

    I returned home and took every opportunity to point out that average Americans were doing it just as tough as we were in a changing world, then saw, the same things happenning here, the economic genius types sold off our railways, water corporations, any and all infrastrucure they could flog, Manufacturing moved offshore, then different governments tried to steady the flood, it was open doors to cheap imports and tool and component manufacturing became non existent, even in the face of campaigns to buy Australian made goods.

    That has long gone now, the last remnants of manufacturing industry is on the way overseas, just as is the coal that we cannot burn anymore to provide our own cheap electricity power, it has been like a cancer from within, as green movements and activists attack the very industries and energy sources that underpinned our economy.

    We are left with power and energy in the hands of overseas investors and ever rising prices and “service” charges (there is no service) and taxes on taxes, and the growing influence of governments as they become the major employer, typically with two people doing the job, that one could do and an army of over educated public servants to shuffle paper and invent new ingenious regulations to fulfill agenda even when government inevitably changes.

    The final straw is the Carbon Tax that Julia says “we must have to save the world”, when we know it is just another tax on a hive of taxes to keep big wasteful government, using our wealth to bring this great country to its knees.

    Where does it end? Who will come to the aid of other countries when famine strikes or nature flexes its power to destroy whole communities. We don’t even have the heavy industry any more to help build wealth so we can help in time of need, America is perhaps worse off that us in this regard!

    My sad thought is that the world and its social engineers and economists will only understand when that capacity is lost, and the new socialists turn their back on those in need.

  44. gail combs says:

    Howard says:
    June 5, 2012 at 3:49 am

    Are skeptics promoting anti-Semitism?! Warmists’ new claim: ‘Is global
    warming a major Jewish issue? It should be’ — ‘Israel will be no more
    if we do not stop global warming in its tracks now’. see Climate Depot on this. Developing….
    _____________________________
    They are really stretching it with that one.

    Actually according to one study ‘Israel will BENEFIT from “Globbull Warning” by moving the “desert belt” into southern Europe.

    There is a new paper in Nature magazine that claims that the tropics are expanding. This would be worrisome because it could push the dry zones further north and south, moving the Saharan aridity into Southern Europe. The paper is called “Recent Northern Hemisphere tropical expansion primarily driven by black carbon and tropospheric ozone”,… http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/22/does-this-analysis-make-my-tropics-look-big/

    Rivers in the sand; the ancient Sahara may have harbored waterways and prehistoric humans

    Saharan desert rivers, satellite image

  45. Larry in Texas says:

    I regret that Jonathan Adler has taken some leave of his senses in the matter of a carbon tax. He should read WUWT more. As Dr. Goklany says, the so-called “harm” is far too unidentifiable, too diffuse, for it to be remedied fairly by a carbon tax. It only gives governments an excuse to raise taxes on a populace (at least in this country) that can ill-afford to pay more taxes these days.

  46. gail combs says:

    PeteB says:
    June 5, 2012 at 5:00 am

    The principle of Pigovian taxation is well established as a free market based mechanism to correct for externalities. The tax isn’t there to compensate the people that are affected by the negative externalities but to ‘level the playing field’ as a market mechanism so that (in this example) the price of fossil fuels includes the cost of the anticipated damage that they cause, this, for example, would have the effect of making Nuclear Power more competitive.
    ________________________________
    Nuclear IS competitive. It is the Government bureaucrats and the Greenie ASTRO TURF that made it much more expensive. ( Job ad: $10/hr to protest Seabrook in Boston Globe – 1977 on)

    Even so the cost of nuclear is about equivalent to coal see CHART

    Economics of Nuclear Power

    And that is CONVENTIONAL Nuclear. SEE:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbucAwOT2Sc

  47. aharris says:

    Uh, how exactly does this guy claim to be conservative?

    “First, the federal government should offer prizes to induce the development of low-carbon technologies.”
    – Subsidies … aren’t we already doing this, and this is not a free market principle which is what conservatives believe in. When low-carbon technologies are competitive, they will be widely used.

    “Second, it ought to identify and reduce barriers to the development and deployment of alternative technologies.”
    – Corporatism … aren’t we already also doing this, and this is not a free market principle which is what conservatives believe in. By skewing the rules to favor some over others you aren’t allowing market forces to play out and you are increasing the need for lobbyists and furthering the truth that Washington is nothing more than a “good ole boys network” rather than responsive to We the People.

    “Third, the US should adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax rebated to taxpayers—presumably, American taxpayers—on a per capita basis. As rationale, he offers a set of technical reasons, but for “a broader theoretical justification,” he argues, “if the global atmosphere is a global commons owned by us all, why should not those who use this commons to dispose of their carbon emissions pay a user fee to compensate those who are affected.””
    – Ah, collectivism … conservatives are all about indiviualism. And find me the joker who actually created a truly “revenue neutral” tax measure. They don’t exist. Never have and never will. I think they’ll find that this is another chimeara that shifts its shape as soon as it gets implemented.

  48. gail combs says:

    Tom in indy says:
    June 5, 2012 at 6:16 am

    An important point often missed is that all the man made CO2 we generated over the last 200 years provided U.S. consumers with the income to buy foreign made goods. South Korea and many other countries went from subsistence level to wealthy because the U.S. consumer purchased their export goods. WHY DO WE NEVER GET CREDIT FOR THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUCED POSITIVE IMPACT WE HAVE HAD ON THE WORLD WIDE STANDARD OF LIVING OVER THE LAST 200 YEARS?….
    _____________________________________
    You forgot one Tom.

    Carbon based fuel/fertilizer/herbicides/pesticides (as well as the rise in CO2 levels) now allows US farmers to produce 100 bushels of wheat on THREE acres of land instead of FIVE. SEE: link

    Everyone always forgets the US farmer that feeds not only the USA but a large portion of the rest of the world. Cargill, a private company was shipping wheat to the Soviet Union throughout the cold war and kept the USSR from major famine and collapse. During the Cold War, Cargill and others famously sold grain to the Soviet Union in the 1970s—sometimes when the U.S.’s own supplies were low—sparking congressional hearings. (page down a couple times to see article)

    EPA.gov
    U.S. farmers produce about $100 billion worth of crops and about $100 billion worth of livestock each year….

    CORN: The United States is, by far, the largest producer of corn in the world… the U.S. produced almost ten billion bushels of the world’s total 23 billion bushel crop

    SOYBEANS: … 2.8 billion bushels of soybeans were harvested … accounting for over 50% of the world’s soybean production and $6.66 billion in soybean and product exports in 2000. Soybeans represented 56 percent of world oilseed production in 2000.

    WHEAT: …The U.S. produces about 13% of the world’s wheat and supplies about 25% of the world’s wheat export market….

    COTTON: Fewer than 32,000 farms in the United States produce cotton… in only 17 southern states. Farms in those states produce over 20% of the world’s cotton….

    GRAIN SORGHUM: …The U.S. exports almost half of the sorghum it produces and controls 70% to 80% of world sorghum exports. As much as 12% of domestic sorghum production goes to produce ethanol…

    RICE: Just over 9,000 farms produce rice… in six states…… U.S. rice production accounts for just over 1% of the world’s total, but this country is the second leading rice exporter with 18% of the world market…..

    Now the rest of the world wants to bite the hand that feeds it./sarc

  49. timg56 says:

    Gail,

    While June in the PNW is usually rainy, this year it stands to be cool as well. Listened to a piece on cherry growers concern over predictions of a cooler, wetter June than normal.

    In other words, I too would not mind a little global warming right now and it seems several thousand cherry growers may hold similar sentiments.

  50. GeoLurking says:

    [snip . . not really advancing anything at all . . kbmod]

  51. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Third, the US should adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax rebated to taxpayers—presumably, American taxpayers—on a per capita basis.

    There can be no “revenue-neutral” tax as additional bureaucrats and their bureaucratic mechanisms will need to be fed, thus outgoing will be less than incoming.

    The method of rebating what’s left will necessarily be flawed. First, where does the government assess the tax? Tax the raw fuel, such as coal offered for sale, or crude oil? From both come products that will not be burned, like activated carbon and fertilizers. Tax those actually burning the fuel? That would be such as users of heating fuels, vehicle fuels, and electricity producers. All such taxes will be paid by end users anyway, as the cost of taxes is passed down the production chain.

    So who gets the remaining money should be the end user. Then the cry of progressivism will be loud. Companies shouldn’t get the money, being companies. Rich people don’t get it. It should go to the poor who can least afford energy. Anything else will get loudly shouted down.

    And how does one show what they’re due? Collect bills and receipts of energy purchases? You could’ve paid cash, and receipts normally only have a few digits of a bank card number. Ultimately an individual energy user identification number issued by the government would be considered the best solution, use when purchasing the energy. That would be quite a database for the government to mine. Are you ready for a bureaucrat on your doorstep asking you to prove you’re using that fuel in a government-approved efficient low-polluting manner?

    Lastly, a “carbon” tax does address certain unspoken desires. There are many Greens who are certain the world is overpopulated. A carbon tax would hurt the poor, like the elderly, on limited incomes. The people who would die from energy poverty, are obviously the least productive, obviously a drain on others, so will not be missed, and the planet benefits. For the government, straining to provide health care and income to these people, it’s an indirect means of reducing the burden while avoiding direct blame.

  52. Andrew says:

    John B says: “In Law then, if you have been damaged by me, or think you will be, sue me – but do be sure to bring along plenty of evidence.”

    One would think a Law Professor would understand that if we stand accused, and we have accusers, both deserve their day in court. But Adler merely assumes there are parties who would have complaints, rather than attempting to meet the requirement of actually finding individuals who alledge personal harm or property rights violation. Perhaps recognizing that he would then lack standing to sue himself, he proposes to sue on behalf of the imagined harmed parties. Knowing no actual court would let him do so, he proposes that Congress act as the court. Moreover he demands that Congress act as a court that shall make the decision to punish the accused without even giving the accused parties opportunity to defend themselves. Our only recourse as those parties, so denied our basic rights by this nonsense, is to vote out the bastards who Adler declares the new Judge and Jury of our legal system…the Congress. The hypothetical Congress that would actual do what he demands, I might add.

    This Professor of “Law” appears to have no concept of it. He ought to lose his job, as being so ignorant in the subject you are employed to understand and/or teach is surely grounds for dismissal.

  53. GeoLurking says:

    GeoLurking says:
    June 5, 2012 at 9:16 am

    [snip . . not really advancing anything at all . . kbmod]

    You can snip me all you want, but the fact of the matter is until these criminals are held to account they will continue to push their agenda. I did not call for any harm to them, just for them to be charged and brought to account for their corruption of science and the vilification of anyone who disagrees.

    A bully does not understand compromise or discussion. A bully only understands incarceration.

    Snip away.

  54. Tsk Tsk says:

    ferd berple says:
    June 5, 2012 at 7:16 am

    In fact, there should be a global tax on all power generation, and on the estate of Edison, due to the damage caused by the un-natural magnetic fields induced by AC power. This would allow us to shift rapidly from AC power generation to DC power generation, removing the hazards of induced magnetic fields.
    —————————————————————————-
    I think this was sarcasm, but you do understand that DC current still creates magnetic fields, don’t you?

  55. Rich H says:

    Although I do not agree with his views on climate change, Jonathan Adler is no liberal. I would characterize him more as libertarian with left-leaning sympathies on the environment.

    He is a contributor to the National Review Online (nationalreview.com), and the Volokh Conspiracy (volokh.com).

    From 1991 to 2000 he worked for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_H._Adler

  56. Stephen Robinson says:

    By this logic of “property rights” shouldn’t the opposite also apply? If there were such a thing as AGW then the longer growing seasons and increased plant growth due to more food (CO2) will benefit the poor countries. No adverse effects have yet been proven for AGW, any that have been accounted to AGW have been shown to be caused by other factors.
    Therefore the poorer countries will be advantaged due to the more advanced countries so-called pollution. In this case and by the suggested logic, they should pay in monetary terms for that priviledge.

  57. Smokey says:

    Stephen Robinson,

    Longer growing seasons are also due to the extra hour of sunlight, as this smart Aussie points out.☺

  58. Some of you guys need to chill out.

    Jonathan Adler is one of the most intellectually honest persons I have come across. Disagreement is not an excuse for being uncivil. We should leave name-calling and that kind of behavior to people who label people who disagree with them deniers (or worse). I would like to think that as a group we are above that kind of anti-intellectual behavior.

    He is also one of the brightest guys I have met, even if he is, in my opinion, wrong on some matters.

    By the way, he is more libertarian than conservative.

    [Moderator's Affirmation: Thank YOU, Dr. Goklany. A timely reminder that not all we disagree with are enemies. Uhh... the corollary is that not everyone we sometimes agree with are friends. -REP]

  59. Brian H says:

    Indur;
    All that you say about Herr Adler may be so, but his text reads as though he is incapable of contemplating the evidence that CO2’s effects are currently, historically, and prospectively benign. That possibility mitigates absolutely against implementing punitive taxation or legislative action against its production — even if serious efforts to do so did not border on species-suicidal.

    His sincerity is no recommendation.

  60. PeteB says:

    Andrew says “You are kidding right? You may argue perhaps that such a policy makes sense, but that it is a free market mechanism? Surely you mean a market mechanism, as there is nothing free market about a policy of government intervention.”

    Pigovian taxation is the favoured response of NeoLiberal economists such as Gary Becker of the Chicago school of economics e.g. http://gregmankiw.blogspot.co.uk/2007/07/becker-on-carbon-taxes.html or Tim Worstall of the Adam Smith Institute in the UK http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/timworstall/100017600/yes-climate-change-is-a-problem-and-yes-we-do-have-to-do-something-but-in-britain-weve-done-it-already/
    or http://timworstall.com/2010/08/27/so-what-does-james-hansen-suggest-we-do/

  61. Andrew says:

    PeteB says: “Pigovian taxation is the favoured response of NeoLiberal”

    The rest of your reply is just names. Don’t be stupid. What you said was that it is a “free market mechanism” and no, it isn’t. A tax is a government intervention. That economists who allegedly favor freer markets than not support it does not change the fact that it is not a “free market mechanism” BY DEFINITION.

    You evidently don’t understand the difference between a free market, and advocates for markets freer than they presently are in general. It doesn’t matter who favors it. It’s a government mechanism, based on market forces. It is not a product of a market free from government intervention.

  62. PeteB says:

    Andrew – OK, if you accept the point that you need a mechanism to correct for negative externalities, then those of us that favour a free market would like a mechanism that minimises government involvement, and makes everybody compete on a level playing field i.e. the price of a product includes any costs that it imposes on the wider community. Not having that tax is effectively a subsidy, because other people are paying for the negative costs associated with that product.

  63. Andrew says:

    PeteB says: “those of us that favour a free market”

    I presume you favor a freer market than the present one. An absolutely free market? Evidently not. But fair enough. I also favor a freer market than the present one, but don’t presume whatever you say to represent the opinions of every individual that wants that.

    “if you accept the point that you need a mechanism to correct for negative externalities”

    As a general principle? Eh, I guess so. Although one has to ask, whether we should also have a mechanism that corrects positive externalities-people benefiting from others actions without the intent of those taking the actions, and without paying a price for them.

    “would like a mechanism that minimises government involvement”

    Except that you are favoring a mechanism that increases government involvement from where it presently is. It would be more accurate to say you would like a mechanism that includes the least amount of government intervention necessary to achieve the thing you want, ie to price the externality. Does taxation involve the least government intervention necessary? I think it inevitably goes over what is necessary.

    “Not having that tax is effectively a subsidy, because other people are paying for the negative costs associated with that product.”

    The difficulty is that what you really mean is not having a policy which puts the appropriate cost to society into the cost of the product is effectively a subsidy…but you imply the only such policy is a tax. The former I am prepared to accept as a general principle (not in any specific case) the latter, not so much.

  64. PeteB says:

    Andrew says “whether we should also have a mechanism that corrects positive externalities-people benefiting from others actions without the intent of those taking the actions, and without paying a price for them.”

    Absolutely – from wikipedia (sorry !) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigovian_tax

    “…In the presence of positive externalities, i.e., public benefits from a market activity, those who receive the benefit do not pay for it and the market may under-supply the product. Similar logic suggests the creation of Pigovian subsidies to make the users pay for the extra benefit and spur more production.”

  65. PeteB says:

    Andrew says “but don’t presume whatever you say to represent the opinions of every individual that wants that.”

    Sorry – I didn’t mean it like that – I meant compared with the current government response which (in the UK) seems to be a mixture of politicians ‘picking winners’, an array of taxes and subsidies that make no sense – see http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/timworstall/100017683/the-real-climate-change-conspiracy-or-is-it-a-cock-up/

    “So this is where I identify the conspiracy in climate change. Not in the basic science, which I’m perfectly happy to accept. But in the discussion, the rules, the regulations, about what we should do about it. Just about every decision that is actually being made seems to flow from ignorance, mendacity or even, as with the CCL and nuclear, just plain flat-out stupidity.
    I still haven’t worked out whether this is simply a conspiracy of damn fool idiots or whether they really do have it in for us.”

  66. Andrew says:

    PeteB says: “I meant compared with the current government response which (in the UK)”

    Ah. Well I’m American. Sorry. In retrospect, your spelling should have made that obvious. :)

  67. climatebites says:

    It is refreshing to read this discussion; some people are taking Adler seriously and thinking it through the economics and the principles of his proposals.

    Regardless of whether one agrees or not, Adler’s article is an important piece — a serious attempt to grapple with the problem, without abandoning conservative principles.

    Adler correctly notes — in contrast to Alan W’s comment above — that

    “Most skeptics within the scientific community readily accept the basic science. They contest the more extreme climate projections, but accept the basic scientific claims. Take, for example, Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute. . . The position espoused by Michaels, Balling and most (but not all) skeptics is that anthropogenic global warming is occurring, but it is more of a nuisance than a catastrophe.”

    But most of Adler’s paper is devoted to making the case that

    “the same general principles that lead libertarians and conservatives to call for greater protection of property rights should lead them to call for greater attention to the most likely effects of climate change.”

    Even if you disagree, its’ worth reading the entire piece. FYI There’s another take on Adler’s piece and a link to the original at ClimateBites.org: ‘Eloquent & principled’ — A conservative tackles climate change.

    Your comments there are welcome. We all — on both sides of the climate debate — spend far too much time ranting, preaching to the converted, and talking to people who already agree with us.

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