Wall Street Journal: Climate Skeptics Should Back a Carbon Tax, Just in Case

chelyabinsk-asteroid-fireball

Chelyabinsk meteor (2013) seen by dashcam video in Russia

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Wall Street Journal thinks skeptics should embrace a carbon tax as a kind of insurance policy, against the possibility we are wrong about climate change. But what about risks arising from the neglected monitoring of real problems?

Why Climate Skeptics Should Support a Carbon Tax

Even if you’re skeptical, you should probably still back a carbon tax. When you consider the range of things that could happen, odds are the country will still be better off.

Here’s why.

It’s an insurance policy. How certain are you that human-caused global warming is not causing irreversible harm? Let’s say 90%. That means you accept that there’s a 10% risk of serious economic damage. That’s enough to merit some sort of insurance policy. After all, attacks by unfriendly countries and terrorists are also pretty unlikely, but the U.S. still takes extensive and costly precautions against them.

Adopting a carbon tax now, especially if its revenues are used to reduce other, growth-damaging taxes, is a pretty cheap insurance policy. It is a much lighter burden on growth than command-and-control regulations or green-energy subsidies. It can also be implemented gradually so that the growth effect isn’t felt for a long time.

Read more (paywalled): http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/10/03/why-climate-skeptics-should-support-a-carbon-tax/

My objection to this line of reasoning is there is simply no compelling evidence that global warming would be a serious problem, even if climate sensitivity is high. A few degrees of warming would not threaten food supplies – at worst farm belts would move a few hundred miles towards polar regions. Some important food production regions, such as the Canadian prairies, would become more productive.

There is also no evidence the economically harmful effect of a carbon tax could be mitigated – as the WSJ itself slyly suggests, with its comment that the tax could be implemented “gradually”, to delay the impact on growth. Punishing businesses which use a lot of energy, and refunding the money to less profitable businesses, is effectively an attack on entrepreneurial success. Under a revenue neutral carbon tax, the undeserving get a slice of the income of the productive.

There are real problems which we probably actually should be taking some kind of “insurance” against – climate change, despite the hype and desperate failed attempts to find genuine “climate refugees”, simply doesn’t qualify as a real problem.

The 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor (seen above) was a near catastrophe which should have served as a wakeup call. Without warning, the people of Chelyabinsk, Russia had a half megaton explosion occur almost directly overhead. Thankfully a long way overhead, or the damage and loss of life would have been severe.

Other recent meteor events, though smaller, are in some ways even scarier – the 2002 Eastern Mediterranean Event, if it had struck a few hours later, over India or Pakistan, could have triggered a nuclear exchange if it was mistaken for a first strike – at the time of the event, India and Pakistan were on the brink of war.

Skywatching for dangerous meteors probably receives at most a few million dollars every year.

Other neglected issues should also be serious concerns. The 2004 Indonesian Tsunami killed an estimated 230,000 people. Better early warning systems, such as those which guard Japanese coasts, would have saved many of those lives. The 2011 Japanese Tsunami killed around 15,894 people, and triggered the Fukushima nuclear disaster – but many lives were saved thanks to sophisticated and well functioning early warning systems.

One day frittering our resources on non issues like climate, while being complacent about a real dangers, will cost us.

Just off the coast of the US North West, there is a looming megaquake. When the 600 mile Cascadia fault triggers, maybe tomorrow, likely in the next thousand years, it will deliver large tsunamis which devastate hundreds of square miles of populated US territory over a long length of coastline, and will likely kill a very large number of Americans – unless American politicians stop spending all their time obsessing about climate, and start to take Earthquakes and Tsunamis as seriously as Japan does.

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182 thoughts on “Wall Street Journal: Climate Skeptics Should Back a Carbon Tax, Just in Case

    • You could send money to the AGW believing Vatican, their prays would be just as effective, after all they still believe in the miracles.

      • I don’t get the impression the Vatican they you speak of does . . I think we’re looking at a now faker ridden “Church” . . and I’ve heard the same from several Catholics. The previous Pope is still alive, for instance, and the current one has spoken of retiring.

        But more fundamentally, please consider the implications of thinking that God created the earth, “to be inhabited” by us, and including vast amounts of very convenient fuels all over the joint . . but if we make use of them; disastrous consequences!

        Not at all in keeping with the words of my Lord or the Book in general . . It’s “Luciferian” thinking to my mind, which is to say just what we were warned of repeatedly; False christs, false doctrines, leading many astray . .

      • I’ll back a carbon tax so long as it is federal treasury funds returned to the taxpayers like me, and not something they collect from us.

        I’m doing my best for global warming. I’m not going to eat my hat, but I AM going to eat my fair share of carbon just to get rid of the stuff.

        So from now on I’m only going to eat materials that contain carbon. No more zinc pills for me.

        G

        No Omega 3s either just give me the green shell mussels whole and I will extract the oil in my stomach.

    • “Just another protection racket scam.”

      That pretty much describes any insurance company. They just happen to use bill collectors and lawyers instead on knee cappers and hitman… more civilized that way, I guess.

      • Last I checked, insurance companies can’t force you to buy their product…oh wait…they can…but it’s not a “tax”; no, no, no, the SCOTUS said so. Is an “involuntary contribution” an oxymoron?

      • Insurance companies make money.

        Ergo, it has to cost more than what the insure against.

        G

    • Yep.. Once a tax is in, no matter what the outcome it’s almost impossible to repeal it. It could never be used for Climate Change©®™ because it’s frittered away on pork bellying and other pointless boondoggles the moment it’s collected.

      • Right, it’ll be frittered away just like the US Social Security Trust Fund ….. which is nothing more than a bunch of IOUs that are kept in a Lock-Box in Parkersburg, WV.

      • It’s worser than that Sam,

        Those IOUs are usually called T-bills and such like, and they are backed by the full faith and credit of the USA, which is as shure a source of revenue as there is.

        Do you think I care whether those IOUs are paid out of my social security taxes or out of my income taxes. Either way they are the Worsester shure source of revenue as far as I can tell.

        g

    • The fact remains that the cost of insurance is still several hundred times greater than the greatest possible damage that might occur from global warming.

      • Well Governments who rob Peter to pay Paul are quite often doing so at the urging of Peter, who plans to be first in line to swill at that government trough he tossed Paul into.

        G

  1. Well, I’m now even happier that I yesterday cancelled my WSJ subscription. WSJ has been better than other media when it comes to Climate Change or the elections, but I just couldn’t stand the way they were advocating for Clinton.

    • The only reason I am feeling even slightly dubious about Trump is the simple fact that the National Enuqirer appears to be trying desparately to beatify him

    • Environmental Leader, Sept.21, 2011

      “Clinton, Branson Launch Major Building Energy Efficiency Projects’

      ———————————————————————————————

      Carbon War Room, May 29, 2015

      ‘News: Clinton Climate Initiative Partners With Rocky Mountain Institute And Carbon War Room To Advance Renewable Energy In Caribbean Island-Nations’

      http://www.carbonwarroom.com/tags/islands

      The Carbon War Room and the Rocky Mountain Institute merged in December, 2014.

      More information on this topic online.

  2. I am disappointed with the Wall Street Journal. “Carbon” taxes are mischevious, both as a new tax and as a regulatory measure, and it is impossible to figure which will be worse. New taxes are rather like giving a stoner teenager an unlimited supply of his favorite drug, as the government shows similar wisdom and restraint with a new revenue source. The regulations could very well prove to be a giant rent-seeking enterprise, with the sort of income shifts seen in Europe. The WSJ must be endorsing Hillary Clinton.

    • An unlimited supply of drugs just makes the teens sleepy or gives them a dirt nap. More money makes government want more money.

      The drugs are an individual problem. Theft by government is a general problem.

    • If you want to see what happens to a so-called “revenue neutral” tax, just follow the money collected from the big tobacco shakedown a couple of years ago. Once it was in place, the expected collection of $30 billion was immediately converted into tobacco bonds so governments could get their greedy hands on the cash right away. Did that money go to helping smokers kick the habit? Not so much.

    • The real WSJ went away with the Murdoch purchase. He’s the media front man who snapped up the world’s key publications for The City prior to The Propaganda Blitz — twenty years of “war” against terrorist boogeymen who kept rising from the dead (OBL), WMD’s, Gulf War Syndrome, faux “pandemics” that weren’t, scripted “shootings” that aren’t, the appearance of e-bola and zika viruses from thin air, global warming (ne climate change) . . . the list is long.

      There is no “media”. Only controlled propaganda, disinformation, spin outlets. The ‘Net keeps the door propped open. At least for now.

    • I discontinued my subscription last month after several WSJ editors began supporting crooked Hillary.

  3. The US government spends a lot and acts purportedly against attacks by terrorists? Heckuva job, US government. The US government spends a lot and acts purportedly against attacks by unfriendly countries? Come on. It should be more honest and go back to the correct name for the “Department of Defense”: Department of War. And add something to credit free riding for broke European states. Also, insurance policies involve insurers prudently investing premiums to fund future payouts among other things. Pouring more money uselessly into the maw of the US government does no such thing. To describe as such is rank charlatanism.

  4. The WSJ argument is somewhat equivalent to the Pascal Wager (see e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager) and it fails for the same reason.

    Blaise Pascal argued that a rational person should live as though god exists and seek to believe in god. If god does actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell). I.e., Pascal’s Wager assumes that there is only one possible god – which means only one religion – and that adopting this religion is a safer bet than rejecting it. But there are thousands of religions and what most of them agree upon is that false believers will fare as badly in the next life as atheists.

    Equivalently, supporting carbon tax is not a safer bet: it may be the wrong way to combat the supposed anthropogenic global warming. Or, to put it differently, the IPCC dogma is not the only climate religion available, much less possible.

    • I was going to say the same thing. Moreover, they seem to ignore the most obvious fact that their carbon taxes will have tens of billions in economic impacts and effectively no impact on climate (you would need something much stricter, on the order of banning coal power to mate make a meaningful impact). The barest economic analysis shows that the expected return is quite negative.

      It’s quite clear that they already decided on their course of action and are attempting to justify it by pretending the benefits are much larger and the costs much less than they really are. Not a bit larger, but they have both of these off by a least an order of magnitude.

      • “tens of billions” in economic impact? “b” is nowhere near “tr” on my keyboard; is it on yours?

    • I also believe Pascal’s wager is bad motivation. Other than Islam and Christianity, which religions send false believers to a bad end?

    • In Pascal’s wager, there is no cost to believing in God.
      If you want to propose a carbon tax that doesn’t raise any money, go for it.

    • To me (nobody special), it seems many don’t understand the “wager”. It’s a logic/mathematical exercise, with defined conditions . . I remember dealing with it in one or another philosophy class, but it wasn’t treated as a “religious” argument per se.

      (From the wiki)

      The Wager uses the following logic (excerpts from Pensées, part III, §233):

      God is, or God is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
      A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
      You must wager (it is not optional).
      Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
      Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
      But some cannot believe. They should then ‘at least learn your inability to believe…’ and ‘Endeavour then to convince’ themselves.

      It makes no sense (that I can see) to speak of this or that God or religion, outside the defined parameters it establishes. It might have some bearing on how one deals with their own situation in regard to the God hypothesis in real life, but does not seem to me to have been an attempt to deal with that sort of real-world scenario.

      • That’s true, JohnKnight. However, attempting to apply an oversimplification to a general and complex problem is precisely what we are complaining about. The comparison to Pascal’s wager is apt because both Pascal and the original story have to ignore some fairly fundamental questions in order to be valid.

      • Well, in formal logic one is supposed to “ignore” things outside the premises of the argument itself . . This is perfectly valid logic, for instance;

        If; Ben is a man, and, all men are ten feet tall, then; Ben is ten feet tall.

      • PS ~ To me, the article in question here is just con artistry, and the employment of a ‘Pascal’s wager’ type logic is indicative artistic license ; )

    • So you send five ships to sea carrying your cargo, to be sure that one gets through.

      So what is Pascal’s solution for what to do if all five of your ships make it through ??

      The precautionary principle is a fool’s game, and calling it Pascal’s Wager doesn’t work any better than lipstick.

      g

  5. And by WSJ logic, you could argue for insurance against an alien invasion, however unlikely it may be, because the effects would be devastating.

    So let’s spend 1.5T dollars per year on alien invasion research. A small price to pay to save humanity.

  6. Wall Street Journal: Climate Skeptics Should Back a Carbon Tax, Just in Case…

    Just in case China and India don’t exist?
    Or just in case they give toss what we think?

  7. The cash grab has already been initiated in Canada. Billions are about to be frittered away for NOTHING gained. Except to make people poorer.

    • I am curious to know who gets the billions . Surely it cannot simply disappear like the Cheshire Cat leaving just the smile on the face of hedge fund managers.

      • Who gets the billions? The green religious movement probably believes the money is somehow extracted from the Koch Brothers, Warren Buffet and big oil and somehow returned to ordinary citizens. The WSJ OTOH probably believes that the money is paid by energy consumers and goes to the Koch Brothers, Warren Buffet and big oil. I reckon I’d bet with the WSJ on this one.

      • It is possible to destroy wealth, by diverting money from productive activities to useless waste.

        The tricky part of this concept is you are destroying wealth, not money. After the wealth is destroyed, you still have the same amount of money, but it canno longer buy as much.

        The way Venezuela ran their economy into the ground – plenty of paper money still in circulation, but it can’t be used to buy anything.

    • Now the WSJ is on the carbon band-wagon.

      Companies can say yes-yes while at the same time they are making plans to re-locate outside of the U.S. which IMHO, Ford did. Also keeps ENGOs away from them and avoids bad publicity for companies.

      The up-coming election will determine the future and how businesses will react to the outcome of the U.S. election may be revealed.

      The U.S. power grid is more fragile than people think it is?

  8. If a carbon tax were implemented world wide and AGW is show to be utter nonsense would the carbon tax be repealed?

    • After the Johnstown flood in PA they instituted a ‘temporary’ 25-cent tax on all bottles of liquor to help the people who had been displaced / lost everything in the flood. A hundred years later, that tax is still in place.

      • A tax on telegraphs (later expanded to phone service) was put in place to help fund the Spanish/American war. It was only recently repealed.

  9. “My objection to this line of reasoning is there is simply no compelling evidence that global warming would be a serious problem, even if climate sensitivity is high.”
    My objection is that carbon tax is in no conceivable manner an insurance policy.
    The idea that the Wall Street Journal imagines it could be just demonstrates how screwy an institution can get.
    The government appears to be clueless in terms doing anything effective to reduce CO2 emission.
    No government action taken by any government in the world has reduced CO2 emissions, and governments have wasted trillions of dollars of public money making poor decisions in this regard.
    It would insurance policy like handing out free alcohol to drunks is insurance policy.
    The government nonsense seems based upon the idea that if you force the cost of energy to increase one reduces CO2 emission. That is a retarded idea.

  10. For just a modest fraction of the subsidies and grants to build “green renewable” energy, the US could build proton beam therapy centers across the nation to treat breast, prostate and other cancers. Do an internet search on proton beam therapy to understand how it will revolutionize cancer treatments.
    Just one tiny example of miss-allocated funding that only enrich the politicians and the grifters.

  11. If you think that renewables will make no difference then a carbon tax is even more bizarre. If you think renewable subsidies and climate change grants are rorted they will look honest endeavour compared to the shiftiness that will be associated with a carbon tax. If one looks at insurance risk all normal people take a look at the cost and compare that with the risk as to whether to self insure. In these circumstances I place the risk at a fraction of 1percent and even $1 spent insuring against that risk as $1 too much. Not only should skeptics be against a carbon tax so should warmists. A carbon tax is another means to rip people off.

  12. The argument that carbon tax revenue can be used to cut other taxes is a common , but fallacious one.

    The whole point of the tax is to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the use of fossil fuels. Therefore, carbon tax revenue will quickly decline. Meantime we are instead stuck with expensive renewable energy.

    There is one other black hole in the argument. Just effect on emissions will such gradual tax have? My guess is half of naff all.

    If global warming really is such a problem, we should be taking drastic worldwide and direct action to cut emissions, not fiddling around at the edges with feel good but ineffective changes

    • In Finland gasoline is taxed so that 75% of its price (€1.40) is taxes.

      Therefore, carbon tax revenue will quickly decline.

      Oh, it won’t, because the status quo of tax revenue is so important. So raising the new tax is out of question because that would cause diminishing total revenue. Lowering the tax is out of question, because it would require serious tax raises elsewhere => status quo is protected.

      I think taxing energy is bad for the poor people, but Greens don’t really care about that.

  13. For the record, carbon taxes are imbecilic. Earth’s atmosphere is clearly CO2-deficient. See this, by Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore:
    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/moore-positive-impact-of-human-co2-emissions.pdf

    Glad to see the January 1700 Cascadia tsunami mentioned. The disastrous 2005 SE Asia tsunami vertical height was about 20 feet. The 1700 tsunami vertical height was about 200 feet. Yup.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/07/20/claim-huge-earthquake-overdue-pacific-north-west/#comment-1998282

    I posted this March 12, 2011 in the Vancouver Sun.
    http://www.pressreader.com/canada/the-vancouver-sun/20110312/295137268925180/TextView
    _____________________

    During this (2005 major tsunami) event, Japan residents got 10 to 15 minutes warning to move to higher ground. The tsunami alarm was issued 3 minutes after the earthquake occurred.

    If the Cascadia fault ruptured, the folks at Tofino would get about that much warning, assuming our tsunami warning system worked perfectly.

    In Vancouver, they would get about 30 minutes warning. Ever try to evacuate Surrey and Delta in 30 minutes? Yeah, that’ll work.
    _________________________________________

    A tsunami wave moves over the open ocean at speeds over 700 km/h (500 mph).
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-20042318-76.html

    The tsunami warning system worked Friday, with the agency alerting people to imminent tsunamis within three minutes of the quake, and the first waves struck 10 to 15 minutes later. The alert may have saved hundreds of lives, as some residents were able to flee to higher ground.

    Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-20042318-76.html#ixzz1GPmFesDo

    • All that is needed is a fleet of city wide blimpies. Report to your Sky-Loft station and receive safety.
      Of course a number of buildings designed over 30 stories could house a vast number of residents in a fairly confined space and be well above High Water

  14. There is an excellent piece worth tracking down from McKitrick on the carbon price. Basically he says that the carbon tax should not cause more social damage than the social cost of carbon (SCC) (even when ignoring completely the social benefits of carbon). The social cost of a tax is called the Marginal Cost of Public Funds, which is to say, the cost to the local economy if another $1 is raised by applying a tax.

    I am really sure these advocates have never considered how to determine the carbon tax rate, as I have only read about how the SCC should be the tax rate applied. But it is not nearly that simple.

    First all other carbon abatement measures have to be removed or it is double (or triple) taxation, and not a free market. Second, the SCC number should be divided by the MCPF so that the tax does not cause more harm than the benefit of preventing the SCC. The value for Alberta is $1.40 and for Ontario $6.30. That is the MCPF number. If the SCC is $25 then the carbon tax should not be higher than 25/1.4 and 25/5.3 in those respective provinces, or else there will be more social harm from the tax than from the carbon dioxide.

    It is time to bring some serious financial people into the conversation. McKitrick also says that the worst thing to finance with a tax, even if properly and carefully raised, is to invest in something that requires subsidies like wind of solar PV because they just makes the social cost worse.

    I am pretty sure no one calculated the marginal cost of public funds for windmills. If the subsidy is 75%, long term, and the cost is $4m, then that is $3m x 6.3 = $18.9m worth of social cost for having applied that amount of money in the form of public subsidies to a money-losing venture. There is no way the social benefit to Ontario will ever amount to $18.9m per windmill.

    Suppose the effective subsidy was only 50% per windmill. If the subsidy were raised using the SCC value per ton, then the harm to the economy would be $2m x 6.3 = $12.6m per windmill. There are hundreds and hundreds of them just in my area. Add to that the cost of the gas-fired back-up power stations ($3.8bn) with the built-in cost of those taxes, $23.94bn (because that was not raise by a ‘carbon tax’), and you start to see the insanity of destroying the economy by raising taxes to pay subsidies.

    Worse, a windmill doesn’t actually save any energy in the first place. That has been discussed elsewhere. That is part of the scam. It doesn’t save anything except the unviable wind energy business. It is time to start calculating the social cost of windmills.

    The subsidy on solar PV is more than 90%, long term. For every $1bn invested in solar PV in Ontario, the cost to the economy is 1.0 x 0.9 x 6.3 = $5.7bn because the money cannot be used for other things like creating jobs, educating immigrants, delivering health or building infrastructure.

  15. Any entity which is not actively conservative eventually gets taken over by the left. All charities, all NGO’s all public institutions like schools, universities, news broadcasters… on it goes.

  16. BC, Canada has had a carbon tax of $30/ton since 2011, which results in a tax of 6.67 cents per litre, or about 25 cents per US gallon, at the gas pump. Since this is well within the range of day to day price variation in gasoline, the effect it has had on gas consumption is next to zero.Most people buy gas because they have to, not because they want to spend their time joyriding around the countryside. Consequently, the only effect of the BC carbon tax is to increase the government tax bite without any noticeable effect on gas consumption.

    The real reason for carbon taxes is to raise government income without infuriating the electorate. Governments are always short of money for their social engineering schemes, particularly when an election is looming and they need to bribe the voters with their own money. They could always raise money the old-fashioned way by raising income tax or sales tax, but this doesn’t go down well with the voters. Bringing in a carbon tax (“we’re only doing this for your own good”) is a much less politically risky way of raising money.

    • Yesterday, the Canadian government announced it would implement a Carbon tax which rises to $50 per ton by 2022.

      That works out to $38 billion across the country and would be 10 times higher than the biggest tax increase in Canadian history. This is supposed to be offset by other tax reductions and/or renewable energy programs and/or new spending and/or just kept in the province’s pockets.

      This would be one of the more significant Carbon tax schemes implemented anywhere in the world (coming from a country which previously didn’t care much about global warming). It was also a surprise announcement.

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/liberals-to-set-carbon-price-at-10-a-tonne-in-2018-rising-to-50-by-2022/article32206937/

      • ” It was also a surprise announcement.”

        Come on. They knew the Boy King was a Liberal when they elected him.

        Liberals raising taxes is hardly a surprise.

        My guess is that ‘Anyone but Harper!’ brigade will be yelling ‘Anyone but the Boy King!’ by the next election.

      • As far as Canada is concerned with a measly 36 million people (smaller than California) is it’s immense carbon sink. But hey are we getting any money from India?

    • “Bringing in a carbon tax (“we’re only doing this for your own good”) is a much less politically risky way of raising money.”

      Until they realize they’re losing their jobs because companies can’t afford to operate in a country that artificially increases the cost of energy.

      A ‘carbon tax’ increases the cost of just about everything in the economy. It’s one of the worst possible ways to raise money.

      • Next step will be to demonize any and all companies that move production to cheaper countries, with the whine that evil businessmen who care more about profits than people are shipping OUR jobs overseas.

      • They have bought into the idea to put a carbon tax on the whole country to prevent “carbon leakage” or businesses moving to other provinces that don’t have carbon taxes.

        Result will be businesses moving to other countries.

    • According to this article, BC’s fossil fuel consumption has decreased 14%, because of the carbon tax. Therefore, all of Canada should have the same tax.

      B.C. has shown carbon tax can work
      As provincial environment ministers were meeting in Montreal Monday to work out a carbon-pricing agreement with federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dropped a bombshell in the House of Commons.
      Provinces and territories will implement carbon pricing by 2018 or the federal government will do it for them, he said.
      http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-b-c-has-shown-carbon-tax-can-work-1.2357147

      • And the 14% reduction had nothing to do with the economic downturn.

        In Ontario, taxing people $50 causes 50 x 6.3 in damage and costs (see explanation above). That is $315 in economic damage for a ‘benefit’ of an (estimated) $20 in benefits. Per ton of CO2. No individual could have thought up something this stupid. It takes a committee.

      • A “Carbon” tax INCREASES THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS for just about every sector of an economy.

        Costs more to get products to the retailer = higher prices => inflation => poverty.

        Costs more to run a factory = job loss or fewer new jobs created => fewer goods bought => jobs lost in retail => poverty.

        And on and on.

        (and lower sales taxes and lower payroll taxes and corporate income taxes and — whoa! what happened to all those “government” funds??! — Great. We’re broke.)

        One day, you run out of other people’s money.

        And you live like your average Russian….. or you look like Cuba…..or….. like Detroit.

        TAXES KILL JOBS

        {Supporting scholarly cite:

        What actually followed the cuts in tax rates in the 1920’s were rising output, rising employment to produce that output, rising incomes as aresult and rising tax revenues for the government because of the rising incomes, even though the tax rates had been lowered. Another consequence was that people in higher income brackets not only paid a larger total amount of taxes, but a higher percentage of all taxes, after what have been called “tax cuts for the rich.” There were somewhat similar results in later years…

        Thomas Sowell

        Source: http://www.tsowell.com/images/Hoover%20Proof.pdf (“Trickle Down” Theory and “Tax Cuts for the Rich”page 3).}

      • Don’t forget Willis E pointing out the increase of cross border traffic, when BC’s carbon tax went into effect.
        Everybody who goes to Blaine or Bellingham, still comes back with a full gas tank.

      • And some with one or two extra 10 gallon containers full of gas or diesel. Have seen this many times.

      • @ Barbara and it isn’t only gasoline or diesel, milk, beer, liquor and other goods are bought by the millions of dollars without most taxes.!

  17. Travelling from LA California to Key West I followed the Caribbean Coast up to Key West. I was astonished about the nearly complete lack of protection against hurricane flooding. Tens of thousands homes at the coast, nearly at sea level and often without any protection at all….. Unbelievable. As a child I learned that water is a very strong and a very dangerous enemy which you have got to fight together. And that you have got to fight that danger BEFORE the water is there.

    It would be wiser when the Wall Street Journal would have suggested to spend the money to a danger that is real and already exists. ‘Matthew’ should have wakened them up.

    And when they are awakened, I would suggest them to check the real facts about the climate too.

  18. “The 2011 Japanese Tsunami killed around 15,894 people, ” that’s a rather curious approximation of considerable accuracy!!!! Must be total BS imho!!!

    • That’s 15894 victims confirmed dead in one way or another. As of a year after the quake there were still nearly 500 unidentified bodies and nearly 4000 missing

    • Well, people are countable, significant things. There are huge records concerning each one, and after they are missing for a certain length of time, they are officially considered dead. Furthermore, each person is assigned an official cause of death.

      Human death rates from incidents are probably our most accurate, consistent, and well tracked parameters in history. Things only get messy when you assign blame to something other than those official causes of death (this man died of heart failure: do you blame weight, smoking, genetics, or chance?).

      • Ben, there is only one cause of death and that is when a person quits breathing. If you want to live forever, keep breathing.

  19. Every tax presents an opportunity for elite politicians and institutions ( like WSJ and friends) to wet their beaks in the cash flow. The ‘best’ tax is the kind that disguises itself inside an ‘evil’ corporate product.

    Carbon taxes have absolutely nothing to do with carbon. They are the ideal corruption vehicle; buried in hated energy companies, spawned in ecophobia, with unmeasurable benefits.

    Sweet!

  20. “…It’s an insurance policy. How certain are you…”

    Perfectly reasonable, its why my family donates tithes, offerings, and in one case sacrifices a goat once a year to an assortment of the world’s more popular gods. Just in case, you know.

  21. And unbelievers like me should nevertheless buy indulgences on the off chance that there is a hereafter and a vengeful god?

    The medieval mindset appears to be closely connected to “climate science”.

  22. Actually, a patently obvious approach for those fearful of AGW is to proceed poste haste with the development of fail safe modular nuclear power. No tax needed. Just redirect funds from the AGW scam to companies such as Nucor and Babcock & Wilcox who have real systems in development. This would be useful whether AGW is false or not. The WSJ is victim to Progressive infection of the media. Only the OP-EDs and letters are worth reading; the news section and editorials are corrupted.

  23. It’s been the goal all along – an energy use tax. CO2 has nothing to do with it other than being a subterfuge for its introduction.

  24. “It can also be implemented gradually so that the growth effect isn’t felt for a long time.”

    So much for urgency, eh? If there is no rush, let’s wait and see.

    • At least they admit that their tax is going to negatively affect growth rates. Most true believers claim the opposite.

  25. When otherwise serious people want to believe that colder winters are caused by “global warming”, whatever we have, it is not science. Because all of the solutions suggested and demanded by advocates of “global warming” all converge to the same socialistic ones of bigger government, less liberty, less prosperity, lower personal energy use, this is far more an ideological issue than one of science.

  26. Well I’ll be odd man out, except to note the tourist asking the Irishman the way to Dublin, he replied he wouldn’t want to start from here. There’s no particular Moses on the Mount, set in stone commandments as to exactly how we should raise the level of agreed taxes we do and for space we’ll assume that level is given and agreed (clench your fists and hold that thought from here on)
    So what would be the pros and cons of dismissing all the other current forms of taxation and replacing them with one universal ‘carbon’ tax? Furthermore we give the CO2 alarmists their due and the tax is really a CO2E (equivalent) levied at the mine or well head on a per ton basis of CO2 emitted at it’s most efficient conversion to electricity. ie if burning a ton of a particular brown coal produced twice as much CO2 than some black coal elsewhere to produce the same amount of electricity, then a ton of brown coal is taxed twice as much and so on for gas and oil.

    I put it to you that unlike many of the current forms of taxation that has some real plusses. Administratively simple to collect, unavoidable (bye bye leeching tax accountants and lawyers), doesn’t tax thrift, endeavour or entrepreneurship as you only pay as you consume, it’s perfectly neutral as we don’t care what you consume it on- privately/business/religious/political/etc and it is equitable in the sense it’s the rich that consume so much more of it with their private jets, etc. One thing it would do is favour more human physical labour than our current system does as it increases the relative price of capital and that mightn’t be a bad thing looking around at the waistlines.

    Personally I think it has a lot to commend it compared with say trying to define income, the period in which it’s earned and administratively how to collect it in a timely fashion and so on. Is your objection to such a CO2E tax simply based on some particular prejudice you have against Greenies for suggesting it, or simply you’re familiar with the science of muddling through with the mish mash of incrementalism you’ve inherited?

    • If a carbon tax would replace the mish mash, you might have a point. I don’t believe anyone is proposing that.

      • I have made this exact point many times. I would pay a carbon tax if *ALL* other taxes were replaced by it. The cost saving alone in collecting taxes would be reduced significantly. My tax bill would be drastically shrink as I don’t consume much.

        However, the levels of tax take would still be the same. Looking at the break down of where my taxes went in the last tax year hear in Australia, by far the largest chuck of that tax went to welfare, and I don’t see individuals and corporates will be giving that away any time soon.

    • observa (eye roll) a “carbon” tax:

      1. Cripples productivity.

      2. Promotes inefficiency.

      1 + 2 = the socialist utopia of serfdom for most with privileges for the ones with the guns.

      3. Has no measurable benefit.

      Thus,

      the cost outweighs the imagined benefit 100:0!

    • If the “eliminate all other taxes” were likely to ever happen, shifting from an income to a sales tax would be a lot better.

  27. The WSJ should know better than to fall for the phony insurance scam. Climate thugs are offering the sort of insurance that was properly called a “shakedown racket’ back in the day.

  28. The silly thing is that even if one believes that CO2 emissions drive temperature upwards, a carbon tax does nothing to solve that problem.

    Carbon taxes do not result in the reduction of CO2 on a global basis, merely a relocation of where the CO2 is emitted. That being the case, carbon taxes do not act as an insurance policy and merely results in making everything more expensive for the consumer whilst achieving nothing in return

    The same is so with wind and solar. These do not result in the reduction of CO2 due to the fact that they produce intermittent non despatchable power such that backup from conventional fossil fuel generation is required.

    To date, the alarmists have not put forward any proposal that results in the reduction of CO2 emissions. Carbon capture would, but that is not presently feasible and the reduction in efficiency may wipe out any gain brought about by carbon capture.

    The best proposal by far would be to simply plant some trees, or to turn scrub land into grassland.

      • “Only naked virgins, you know, just to be sure.” Dollars to donuts I bet shamans insisted that they were the only ones qualified to “prepare” virgin females for sacrifice … the night before the ceremony.

        The only difference with the shamans of climate fraud these days is that they’re screwing everybody.

  29. The stark fact is that the best policy is adaption.

    This works whether warming is natural or manmade. Policies of Mitigation, at best only works if warming is manmade.

    Adaption works if warming is beneficial since adaption will be targeted and thus if there is no harm from the warming there will be no adaption. Mitigation in this scenario (assuming mitigation works) is counter productive in this scenario.

    Why would one wish to act in a manner that might deprive one of benefit? The evidence strongly suggests that warming and more CO2 are both a good thing and beneficial to bio diversity and life in general on this planet. Why try and prevent this from happening?

    Policies of mitigation are really stupid given the risk that they will not work, and given that they may deprive us of a real and significant benefit. I do not consider the evidence suggests that CO2 drives temperature but if by some happy chance it does, then the world is in a win win scenario.

    • I adapted to climate change when I migrated from the UK to Australia. I adapted by buying sunscreen, shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops and a hat and on really hot and humid days I spend a day at a Westfield mall. lol

  30. I think skeptics should work towards reducing energy dependence of carbon based fuels so that there is petrol-chemical feed stocks left for the future to be used for plastics. Whether or not a carbon tax should be used is questionable.

    • We don’t need to. Technology is going to reduce fossil fuel usage much faster than any government expects. Between 3D printing reducing the need for transport, and VR reducing the need to travel, the amount of fuel we need is going to collapse over the next 20-30 years.

    • Long before oil begins to run out, there will be other, better methods for creating plastics feed stocks.

  31. Dear NYT readers –
    Would you buy an insurance policy if you thought that the risk of real damage was remote, and the policy would be extremely unlikely to pay out even if the worry was well-founded?

  32. Let’s hook up Greg Ip to an IV drip with 10% poison and verify his “growth effect” theory.

    One thing he definitely got wrong: “… if its revenues are used to reduce other, growth-damaging taxes …”

    Wrong Greg …. ALL taxes are ” growth-damaging taxes”! Zero taxes = maximum growth, (if we were all angels no federal government would be required anyway). 100% taxes = zero growth. Anyone who claims that adding taxes will stimulate growth is a fraud. The only economic parameter government should be focused on is how to maximize revenue … not how to “control” global climate … not how to exact its own twisted interpretation of “fairness” either…

  33. Buy an insurance policy that doesn’t cover what it says and is based on false or unproven assumptions about risks and the uses and effects of premiums paid? The WSJ thinks it’s good business.

    As always, the climate hustle has it backwards. The burden of proof for both the hypothesis and for any actions is on them, not on the skeptics.

  34. Atheists should go to church, in case Jesus was real. It’s easy to do and the consequences of being wrong are immeasurable.

    • I’m pretty sure there’s no God. But I am certain that if there is, He will not look kindly upon those who represent Him as the insane, sadistic psychopath depicted in the Bible, or as responsible for the vile spiritual protection racket that is Christianity.

      • It really is fascinating how atheists are so ignorant regarding the Bible and Christianity.
        It’s almost as if they are afraid to know anything about the thing they hate, just in case they find out they are wrong.

  35. “Even if you’re skeptical, you should probably still back a carbon tax.”

    Nonsense! Should we tax young children for every baby tooth they loose, just in case their adult teeth don’t grow in? It’s the same logic.

  36. A carbon tax is ethically and scientifically wrong, and thus is supported by scoundrels and imbeciles.

    A carbon tax is a tax on EVERYTHING and EVERYONE, with a few exceptions*. Almost everything we make or grow requires primary energy. Everyone consumes primary energy to heat their homes, have food to eat, and to just live. Fully 86% of global primary energy is from fossil fuels, and less than 2% is from renewable, despites trillions of dollars per year in wasted subsidies.

    Fossil fuels keep most of us and our families from freezing and starving to death.

    * A carbon tax does favour venues that have plenty of hydro power – in Canada, that is Newfoundland, Manitoba, BC, and (surprise!) Quebec. A carbon tax unfairly discriminates against those venues that use fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas to generate electricity, like Alberta and Saskatchewan.

    This is why the Prime Minister of Canada has implemented a carbon tax, because it preferentially harms those hardworking people who dislike him anyway. He is a spoiled child, with hardly any work experience and reportedly limited intellect.

    Regards, Allan

    Notes:

    The following numbers are from the 2015 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, for the year 2014:
    http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/pdf/energy-economics/statistical-review-2015/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2015-primary-energy-section.pdf

    Global Primary Energy Consumption by Fuel is:
    86% Fossil Fuel (Oil, Coal and Natural Gas),
    4% Nuclear,
    7% Hydro,
    and 2% Renewables.

    That 2% for Renewables is vastly exaggerated, and would be less than 1% if intermittent wind and solar power were not forced into the electrical grid ahead of much cheaper and more reliable conventional power.

    • It’s OK. He’s just bringing forward the day the West secedes from Canada.

      You can’t have a conservative West ruled over in perpetuity by a liberal East and remain one nation for long. I’d vote for anyone who promises to build a wall across Manitoba.

    • Since about 1960, transfer payments from Alberta to the rest of Canada have cost us about $1 million per Alberta family, including nominal interest. (Reference: Mansell and Schlenker)

      Alberta has carried the Canadian economy for many decades, and now that Alberta is in financial difficulty, Canada is too.

      For many decades, Quebec destroyed its economy with separatist nonsense – and transfer payments made that affordable for them.

      Ontario destroyed its manufacturing economy with foolish green energy policies that are not green and produce little useful energy – and Ontario is now on the transfer payments dole.

      Alberta is now copying Ontario’s disastrous energy policies – policies that are so utterly dysfunctional that any child could prove they cannot work.

      We are being governed by doctrinaire socialists that have a track record of being wrong about almost everything. Our economic situation will get much worse.

  37. In all fairness, the headline of this post is not fair. The position is an op-ed written by one reporter. It is not a position adopted by the editorial board as the official voice of the newspaper. Mr. Ip is fair game for condemnation for having written something gobsmackingly stupid. The Was Street Journal did nothing one ayw or the other.

      • Most newspapers print op eds from a variety of sources. The Wall Street Journal has printed a number of op-eds by Obama and his administration. I don’t think any one thinks they represent the Journal’s editorial policy.

  38. The threat of IS (ISIS, ISIL, or what ever it’s called) is presently the greatest threat to any western country in today’s world.

    Anyone who dismisses this REAL ‘global threat’ are the real deniers.

    • If fanatics associated with IS (or whatever) are directly or indirectly associated with some major world wide organization, then a tax on that major worldwide organizations’ adherents would also be a reasonable insurance policy.

      Edit the op-ed to replace carbon with ‘ISIS related adherents’ (and skeptics with progressives), then sit back and see what happens to the associated “logic” that it would be a good idea.

  39. That is the most idiotic reasoning I’ve ever seen. We maintain a military because IF we didn’t, we most certainly WOULD be invaded by a hostile foreign power.

    Maintenance of the military has zero to do with the probability that someone will invade/attack us. The comparison thus not only falls flat, but is immediately seen as false.

    • If you wanted what another country has, the fact that they have or don’t have a military makes no difference in whether you decide to invade them?
      What color is the sky in your world?

      • On the contrary, he’s saying the probability is 100%, so he doesn’t define it as a probability at all. I disagree with his definition, of course.

  40. The problem with Wall Street is that they are not qualified to give advice about the best method of reducing atmospheric CO2, therefore they simply kick the problem down the road, to be solved by utility companies,
    who will (probably mostly) behave in predictable (and stupid) ways. Anyone familiar with the new energy technology of molten salt nuclear reactors, is aware that we are on the cusp of commercialization of same, by a variety of organizations and governments. This will occur decades before any need to massively reduce carbon, if indeed there will ever be such a time. I would suggest that those who wish to massively reduce atmospheric CO2 start worrying about the consequences should they succeed. They are, after all, installing energy generators whose effect on CO2 reduction cannot be controlled or turned off. . Reduction might or might not have much effect on global warming, but it most certainly will have an effect on this planet’s ability to grow enough food to feed the population.

  41. The best insurance for any global disaster is a strong global economy unfettered by economic shackles imposed to mitigate one possible problem.

    Actually the tsunami is a great example. The Indonesia tsunami was similar in severity the the Japanese tsunami but more impactive because it was a developing economy that did not trust offers of immediate aid thereby worsening the following effects of disease and loss of human resources. Japan was able to protect its people while global interests helped protect its economy.

  42. The new Loyalists of the USA will not object to their government imposing a carbon tax because it will help further fuel the government programs that they thrive on. If these Loyalists succeed in electing their “Queen” it is hard to image this country recovering from this mindset outside of revolt.

  43. Selling insurance with mis-priced risk helps (party) executives most and their unrelated power and budget plays. When the sales and marketing incentives don’t get the job done, they sometimes turn to forced results Wells Fargo style. No one needs misrepresented risk insurance at any price. Neither do we need a science scam run out of the White House with its advocacy group mercenaries.

  44. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and mandatory government insurance payments for every conceivable future hazard just in case, no matter how unlikely.

    Got it.

    • If you promise to covet surety, security, piety, propriety, and not hurt the State, say “what”.

  45. The precautionary principle is no way to make policy. First, there is no reason to believe that limiting carbon dioxide emissions to some arbitrary number will slow/reduce/prevent additional warming (or other bad climatic outcomes). In other words, we could waste a lot of money on a carbon tax and the warming continues. My second objection is the exact opposite of that. If skeptics are right and the mild warming turns out to be a net benefit to humanity or it is easily adapted to, then we have wasted money to implement a carbon tax to address a non-problem. It makes no sense to do very much until we get more certainty on the possible outcomes and can better quantify the potential risks.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. peaked in 2006. Our CO2 emissions have been mostly flat since then (thanks to substituting natural gas for coal to generate electricity). The rest of the world is responsible for the marginal global increase since then. And I promise you that even if we get fooled by charlatans into enacting a carbon tax to “save the fricking planet”, there are about 4-5 billion people living in countries that will not reduce their emissions. So, globally, emissions will continue to rise whether we enact a carbon tax or not. What the proponents of a carbon tax are essentially lobbying for is for us to reduce our standard of living so the 4-5 billion people living in “developing” economies who have no intention of limiting their emissions can improve their standard of living.

  46. I’m worried about nonprofit advocacy groups seizing power. Is there a precautionary tax for that?

  47. Taking vaccines is good.
    Wearing a helmet and bubble wrap every day is bad.

    Ask yourself why one is good and one is bad, when both provide clear benefits to health and safety. Perhaps this deep thinking exercise here as well.

    • Sorry need to change that last sentence…
      …..Perhaps this deep thinking exercise applies here as well.

      • At least a helmet and bubble wrap offer a bit of protection in exchange for the inconvenience. Paying a carbon tax is like taking out a huge loan to buy the Emperor’s new suit of clothes. You get nothing in exchange for your money other than pretense.

    • Reasonable Pseudo Skeptic:

      A “carbon tax” (or “insurance” payment) to prevent “climate change,” is like taking Coumadin, loads of it, to prevent being killed in a car accident.

      Yup. That’s right. Natural drivers control climate. CO2 conjecture is mere fantasy science.

      You would enact measures causing your health to be so fragile that a rogue wave knocking you over in your wading pool at the beach will kill you.

    • “Taking vaccines is good.”

      Lost me right there.

      No. using vaccines is not universally good. If you’re facing a known lethal pathogen, it’s good, otherwise it’s flat out stupid. You have an imune system. Use it or lose it.

      • “You have an immune system. Use it or lose it”. Bartleby, totally I agree with the premise of “use it or lose it” regarding our immune systems, we seem to run for the doctor for a paper cut and as soon as we get a sniffle we phone in sick. When I look at the school system with it’s lack of phys ed and the competition it provides, that to me is where it starts.

  48. They are at the Bargaining stage in the grief process of the death of their CAGW ideology/religion, and they are sugar-coating the bad idea of a carbon tax, thinking we’ll fall for it. Nice try, WSJ.

  49. Well this just puts me over the edge. I’ve subscribed to the WSJ since the ’80s. This election cycle has definitely triggered their editorial board. They are pushing the MSM / globalist line on so many topics. I just called to cancel my subscription. They asked why. I told them their editorial position was incompatible with mine. The (offshore) call center rep said there was a lot of that (cancellations) happening, They were asking for examples to send to management. I said, in order of most recent to oldest, Carbon, Clinton, and Snowdon.

  50. The Precautionary Fallacy can be used to justify doing or not doing ANYTHING.

    It is junk thinking fooling only the simpleminded.

    The WSJ isn’t fooled — they know exactly what they are doing.

    Re: H. R. Clinton: follow –> the –> money
    (as has been said many times over the years).

  51. “Adopting a carbon tax now, especially if its revenues are used to reduce other, growth-damaging taxes, is a pretty cheap insurance policy.”

    Since when has a new tax ever been used to reduce other taxes? The Wall Street Journal knows better than to suggest such a thing. They also know that for a carbon tax to be effective, it has to reduce emissions by reducing energy use. Reduced energy use means slower growth, smaller profits, fewer jobs, smaller paychecks, and downsized lifestyles. Their proposed carbon-tax “insurance” will not pay out for any such losses. It causes them. Why would anyone buy an insurance policy that causes the very damages you are trying to prevent?

    The Wall Street Journal used to be pro-business. What they are now proposing is clearly anti-business. Even in a best-case scenario, and even if the rest of the world follows suit, it will only reduce global temperatures less than a tenth of a degree over decades and will not have a noticeable affect on the climate. Who would propose such a destructive idea that is incapable of producing a noticeable benefit? They must really love tax increases to propose a carbon tax that is so damaging to business and jobs.

  52. It’s an insurance policy. How certain are you that human-caused global warming is not causing irreversible harm? Let’s say 90%.”

    No, let’s not.

    Let’s call it 100% and treat the suggestion with the contempt it obviously deserves.

  53. We really need an insurance policy for bad public policy. But then the victims would be paying for the premium and risk caused by others. I guess it’s a not fault policy scheme.

  54. Our President’s “balanced” approach to deficit reduction calls for budget cuts to go along with any new or increased taxes. The administration is already years late with the budget cuts that are suppose to have gone along with the tax hike on the rich and the ACA taxes. What budget cuts are being proposed to go along with any new carbon taxes as part of the President’s “balanced” approach to deficit reduction?

  55. That is an insult. But two can play that. My suggestion is that they ought to not bother with carbon tax because there will be no warming caused by CO2. This is actually true and is based on science while their advice comes from scientific ignoramuses. It can be demonstrated that carbon dioxide is not warming the world now and never has bone it. Proof of this is so simple that even a child will understand it. Simply put the Keeling curve and global temperature curve (from NOAA, HadCRUT, or someone else) side by side on the same graph. What do you see? You see that the Keeling curve is smooth from start to finish but the temperature curve has ups and downs. If these ups and downs are anthropogenic they must be caused by greenhouse warming or greenhouse subtraction.. To start any greenhouse warming you must add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and this will show on the Keeling curve that records atmospheric carbon dioxide. But guess what? There is no sign of any such carbon dioxide added or subtracted , going back as far as the year 1850. This means that none of the warm peaks or coolings (yes, there was a thirty year cooling too, from 1850 to 1910) that coincide with peaks and valleys of the global temperature curve. Obviously none of these peaks can be anthropogenic. They are all of natural origin and the anthropogenic greenhouse effect simply does not exist. It follows that no amount of mitigation can change the climate. All mitigation/decarbonation projects are worthless and have been started for nothing. They should all be shut down and the money refunded to states and organizations who were swindled out of it.

    • I will also here reiterate my contention that mankind’s activities can have no influence on the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which level is the result of an equilibrium between atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide (and carbonates). Whatever we add or subtract, the oceans will alter their chemistry to maintain equilibrium (Le Chatlier’s Principle). What has happened is that the equilibrium point is changing.

      • How much atmospheric carbon dioxide has been taken – nay stolen – by the carbonates over hundreds of millions of years? Bit by bit, and now limestone and dolomite everywhere! Poking up here. Collapsing there. Maybe God invented humans to take that carbon dioxide back, for the sake of the long suffering plants.

      • As I understand it, even the carbonates can “give it up” through further chemistry (involving carbonic acid).

        But, if you believe that all deposits of hydrocarbons and coal came originally from fossil plant matter, then it follows that hydrocarbons/coal are the ultimate sequestration of what must have been a truly astounding amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Why did we not inherit a scorched Earth, if that is so. Where did all the CO2 come from originally? And, could it be that these original sources are still around and operating?

  56. “There is also no evidence the economically harmful effect of a carbon tax could be mitigated” .. who cares.

    I mean .. what is the point of a “carbon tax” ? Obviously, politicians can buy votes with any money they can channel to their “like-minded” communities, but how does that make Global Warming any better ?

    Can’t this all be done by simply allowing “Big Oil” to gouge the hell out of everybody ?
    The government already gets over half of everything they take in and you have a great scapegoat.

  57. Not that old insurance-false-analogy again.
    You don’t buy insurance to stop your house burning down, insurance is to compensate you if it does.
    To protect your house you invest in alarm systems, sprinkler systems and the like to deal with a fire if it occurs.
    The same policy should apply to all natural hazards including climate hazards, the way that Japan deals with earthquakes.
    Besides a “barely perceptible” CO2 tax growth handbrake is not going to do anything to reduce CO2 emissions, just be another wealth-robbing irritation that will fall heaviest on the poorest.

  58. Hmm I now see why the WSJ has yet to catch an economic bubble before it popped. They are living in financial la la land. A tax on carbon, on a carbon based world. What a gonza scam.

  59. Here’s the text of the WSJ essay:

    According to polls, the majority of Americans are worried about climate change and want their leaders to act on it. Suppose, though, you are in the minority. You think the scientific consensus is wrong, or too uncertain.

    Even if you’re skeptical, you should probably still back a carbon tax. When you consider the range of things that could happen, odds are the country will still be better off.

    Here’s why.

    It’s an insurance policy. How certain are you that human-caused global warming is not causing irreversible harm? Let’s say 90%. That means you accept that there’s a 10% risk of serious economic damage. That’s enough to merit some sort of insurance policy. After all, attacks by unfriendly countries and terrorists are also pretty unlikely, but the U.S. still takes extensive and costly precautions against them.

    Adopting a carbon tax now, especially if its revenues are used to reduce other, growth-damaging taxes, is a pretty cheap insurance policy. It is a much lighter burden on growth than command-and-control regulations or green-energy subsidies. It can also be implemented gradually so that the growth effect isn’t felt for a long time.

    Indeed, a study by Resources For the Future found that a carbon tax of $45 per ton rising at 2% above inflation per year would reduce household incomes by just 0.5% to 0.8% in the year 2030 (depending on what the money is used for). That would reduce annual economic growth by a barely perceptible 0.06 percentage points per year.

    By 2030, any remaining uncertainty over global warming should be dispelled. If the proof of damaging climate change has become incontrovertible, you’ll be glad action was taken. In the unlikely event the scientific consensus has been overturned, little harm done.

    Something worse could come along. Since public opinion favors action on climate change, something is probably going to happen. Better that it be a carbon tax, such as the one Washington state will vote on in November, which returns the money to taxpayers, than burdensome regulations, ad-hoc bans such as of the Keystone pipeline, and subsidies for technology that may never be profitable.

    Of course, some political leaders may still demand such measures. Opponents can cite the carbon tax as proof action has already been taken. And if those regulations get imposed anyway, the presence of the tax means they’ll be less harmful, because it will have already nudged the economy away from fossil fuels and toward renewables.

    Other countries will act. Even if the U.S. takes no action on climate change, other countries increasingly will. That will change the sorts of products and services that sell well in their markets.

    Take cars. Toyota’s Prius owes its success in no small part to the fact it was introduced in Japan, where gasoline costs roughly $4.50 per gallon. The two top-selling cars in Japan are both Prius models. If American companies are forced to design goods and services in a domestic market with a carbon tax, they’ll be better placed to compete in foreign markets that also penalize carbon content.

    There are non-climate-related benefits. Even if you dispute the harm of carbon dioxide, there is no dispute that burning fossil fuels release all sorts of other pollutants: particulate matter (soot), sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury. While a carbon tax is not the most targeted way to reduce such pollutants, it still reduces the need for other mitigation measures.

    Fossil fuels also kill people more directly: coal mines collapse, gas pipelines explode and rail cars filled with oil catch fire. Furthermore, imported oil props up unsavory regimes. Whether or not you believe carbon-dioxide emissions are harmful, a carbon tax reduces all these collateral costs.

    So there you have it. Even if you’re a climate skeptic, think of a carbon tax the way you think of fire insurance. You don’t think you’ll need it, but if you’re wrong, you’ll be glad you have it.

  60. Could I just go with the nuclear power plant behind door number two, or do I need to have someone in camo take my wallet at gunpoint so they can hand it to my congress-critter’s misstress?

  61. If you really wanted to, for instance, change people’s driving habits, you would impose a gas tax of something on the order of $5/gal all of which would be rebated to taxpayers on a per capita basis. No exemptions. Phase it in to give people time to adapt. We will never do this.

    • The administrative and compliance costs would probably absorbed the $5, plus some.
      It wouldn’t work anyway, Americans love their cars and the freedom of movement they provide as shown during WW2 gasoline rationing.

  62. The Precautionary Principle is essentially defined as “Just in case”.

    So, with that sort of ‘logic’:
    The Norse Gods may not be fiction, so we should revive their shrines.
    The Greek Gods may not be fiction, so…
    Fairies may actually be in the garden so we should precautionarily put out burnt offerings to appease them…
    As any religion may be The True One, so we should believe in all of them just to be safe.
    Etc.

    The precautionary principle would have left all our ancestors in the trees in Africa as it might be more dangerous to go down to the grasslands and learn to hunt and talk and use computers and possibly even to think for ourselves.

  63. You may not believe that I am the Dark Lord, and that I will condemn you to an eternity of agony and torture. But why take a chance, when, for the low, low price of $19.95, I will grant you dispensation for your immortal soul.

    But wait! There’s more! Act now, and you get this spiffy combination tire pump and orange juice squeezer, normally a $50 value, yours FREE!

  64. And, what about the risk of harmful global cooling or, worse, the onset of a catastrophic new ice age for which, unlike dangerous global warming, there is actually historical precedent? Those who believe that AGW is a real and significantly costly threat must also accept that AGW is capable of offsetting the known threat of dangerous cooling. It’s a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation. The risks are a wash.

    For those who believe in the threat of harmful AGW,

    A. Increasing GHG emissions implies:
    – increased risk of costly AGW
    – decreased risk of harmful global cooling
    – increased global economic growth and greater ability to mitigate harm

    B. Decreasing GHG emissions implies:
    – increased risk of costly global cooling
    – decreased risk of harmful global warming
    – decreased global economic growth and lower ability to mitigate harm

    So, for AGW true believers, this amounts to a leveling of the risk of harm. However, from the standpoint of human comfort and well-being, who wouldn’t prefer the risk of being warm and wealthy over being poor and cold? So, the best policy for AGW believers to advocate: Get over fear of warming, embrace oil and warmth and carry on doing what we’ve been doing – growing the world economy.

    • And there are those of us who are old enough to testify that nothing has changed in their lifetimes to suggest warming. Whatever happened to the validity of personal witness?

  65. The next wall street bubble – betting on ‘climate change’, betting on doom?

    Until now wall street always has been a greater danger to world economy than some wavy ‘climate whatsoever ‘.

  66. It is unfair to generically assign all the guilt for this idiotic opinion column on The Wall Street Journal. The Journal editorial page is not a monolith. It often publishes opinions that it disagrees with in order to stimulate thought and conversation.

    Greg Ip, even though he is a Journal columnist, is the individual responsible for this asinine proposal. He is the one who should be held responsible.

  67. Work hard to pay the master politicians comrade.

    “We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well and live.”
    Arrius: What is your name, Forty-One?
    Judah: [pause] Judah Ben-Hur.

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