Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Back in July WUWT posted a study by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis which suggested that climate policies cause more harm than climate change. But apparently the IIASA’s concerns are misplaced – according to Bloomberg author Mike Buchanan’s critique of the study, the magic of government can fix any harmful side effects of climate policies.
Climate Change’s Long-Term Fix Has a Short-Term Cost
A carbon tax will have consequences for food security that need mitigating.
By Mark Buchanan
19 August 2018, 19:00 GMT+10
But hope for a simple fix — such as a carbon tax, the preferred option of most economists — is naive, even setting aside the formidable political challenges. Among other things, a new study suggests, a meaningful carbon tax could trigger food shortages by 2050 for many of the poorest people in the world, and even be worse than climate change continuing completely unabated.
Policies designed to avoid climate disaster a century into the future and beyond might be expected to have some negative consequences over times as short as 30 years. By analogy, fire extinguishers have negative short-term consequences for the interiors of houses, but we generally think that using them is a good idea, because we can do other things to deal with those consequences and avoid having to rebuild the whole house.
Likewise, if governments implement a carbon tax — or take other serious actions on climate — they can also take further steps to handle adverse consequences stirred up as a result. Revenue from the tax could be used for food aid, for example, or to transfer more efficient production methods to food insecure regions, which might also further reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The real message of the paper is that a useful carbon tax could cause serious problems, if put in place in the absence of any other policies to make agriculture more resilient or to come to the aid of those most at risk.
I hope you are now all feeling reassured. The solution to food insecurity caused by a carbon tax is to provide more aid to the needy, and have faith in the ability of government to get things right.