No Matter Your View on Climate Change, Pricing CO2 Is Harmful… Why?

One-sentence answer: … because pricing one externality but not others leads to economic and environmental distortions… causing human suffering.

Dr Lars Schernikau

The article is here on Linked-In

Growing up in Eastern Germany, I was taught in school that – in so many words – money is the basis of all evil, particularly if it is made in the Western free-market system. Having spent now 20 years in commodities and energy markets, I concluded otherwise and find that distortions of artificial incentives, rather than those that arise freely, are the source of much perversion.

Among these distortions of markets is the pricing of carbon dioxide, which harms not only people – especially the poor – but also the environment. This is obviously contrary to what we commonly read and certainly inconsistent with what my children are taught in school.

Let me start with the usual disclaimer that I (and most knowledgeable scientists) agree that (1) Earth’ climate is changing, (2) the world has been warming since the 1800s, the Industrial Revolution and the end of the Little Ice Age, (3) Humans have contributed to this warming, and – also – (4) human CO2 emissions have contributed.

However, this article is not about the causes or the negative or positive effects of a warming planet and higher CO2 concentrations (see WEF and NASA on global greening). This article is also not about the scientifically undisputed fact that we don’t know how much warming CO2 causes (McKitrick 2022 and Scafetta 2022). Nor do we discuss the fact that each additional ton of CO2 in the atmosphere has less warming effect than the previous ton (IPCC). See my note at the end of the article on damages from climatic changes and Figure D.

Instead, this article is about the environmental and economic sense or “none-sense” of pricing CO2 emissions as currently practiced in most OECD countries and increasingly in developing nations. It is about the sense or “none-sense” of measuring practically all human activity with a “CO2 footprint”, often mistakenly called “carbon footprint”, and having nearly every organization set claims for current or future “Net-Zero”.

Before you put the article aside and call me bananas, or worse, give me 5 minutes of your time and read on. I promise that I care about the future of both our children and the planet we inhabit. I am aware that fossil fuels cannot power forever ~80% of our world, as they currently do.

I recently discussed the issue of “environmental footprint” with a distinguished Swiss journalist in Zurich. We agreed that our entire existence is based on taking things from nature (“renewable” or not), so the “Net-Zero”-anything discussion ignores a fundamental requirement for our sustenance. We also agreed that it should be our aim to reduce this footprint as much as possible as long as our lives, health, and wealth don’t deteriorate. Now, I am sure, here some readers and many “climate activists” may disagree, which I respect but find unrealistic at a global level. However, I would assume that most agree life ought not to be harmed or shortened for the sake of reducing an environmental impact. Otherwise, there is little room for a conversation.

Figure A: German installed power capacity, electricity production, and primary energy
Source: Schernikau based on Fraunhofer 2022, AGE 2021, Agora 2022; Figure 7 in Book “The Unpopular Truth… about Electricity and the Future of Energy”, and on Amazon

In any case, it is by now undisputed amongst energy economists that large-scale “Net-Zero” intermittent, unpredictable wind and solar energy increases the total or “full” cost of electricity (OECD 2018 p39, OECD 2019 p19, and our own academic study) primarily because of their inherent net energy and raw material inefficiency, mounting integration costs for power grids, and the need for a 100% backup system because of their intermittency.

My native country of Germany, where electricity costs are the highest of any larger nation, is the best example. Installed wind and solar power capacity is now  about 1.5 times higher than “conventional” fully predictable power capacity, or total peak power demand (Figure A). This variable “renewable” wind and solar power capacity now produces about a third of the country’s electricity and contributes about 5% to total energy supply (Figure A). Europe, by the way, is “far” ahead of the world and “only” depends to ~70%, instead of globally ~80%, on oil, coal, and gas for its total energy supply in 2022 (IEA).

Obviously and undisputedly, higher energy costs hurt less affluent people and stifles the development of poorer nations (Figure B). Thus, a move to variable “renewable” energy has “human externalities”. At the margin, poorer people will be “starved off” energy they can’t afford. This means a literal reduction in life expectancy and therefore ending life early (another way of saying “killing”).

The year 2022 was the first in modern history that the number of people without access to electricity did NOT decline. Rather, it increased by a whopping 20 million (IEA) because COVID lockdowns starved people financially. High energy costs do the same, it impoverishes people and causes energy starvation even for entire industries (Financial Times, Economist, on eROI)

.. I was digressing, back to CO2 pricing… The Swiss journalist and I agreed that the environmental footprint of our energy systems is multifold. It includes emissions (various chemicals, particles, and greenhouse gases), raw material input, energy input (that is the energy needed to actually produce the energy we consume), land or space requirement and impact on local climate, animal and plant life, as well as lifetime operational maintenance, waste disposal, and so much more. In addition, there are human health, safety, and financial considerations.

Figure B: Household income spent on energy by total household income

Source: Eschenbach 2017; Figure 38 in Book “The Unpopular Truth… about Electricity and the Future of Energy”, and on Amazon

We also agreed that these “footprints” need to be considered along the entire value chain all the way from resource extraction, processing, transportation, manufacturing and operation to recycling and disposal. Figure C illustrates how virtually all CO2 pricing or taxation happens only at the stage of “operation” or combustion. How else could a “Net-Zero” label be assigned to a solar panel produced from coal and minerals extracted in Africa with diesel-run equipment, transported to China on a vessel powered by fuel-oil, and processed with energy from coal- or gas-fired power using partially with forced labor? All this energy-intensive activity and not a sing single kilogram of CO2 is taxed (Troszak 2019)? The same applies to a wind turbine and an electric vehicle.

For example, in 2022, Germany reached an average “CO2-Certificate” price of 80 EUR/t, more than 3x higher than in 2020 and 13x than in 2017 (Fraunhofer). This price was solely charged for measured CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion increasing power prices accordingly. Needless to say, wind and solar are not charged. Electric vehicles charged with coal- and gas- fired power are not charged. Diesel and gasoline powered cars are charged. CO2 emitting companies can off-set their CO2 emissions in elaborate off-set schemes that often have questionable, if any, environmental benefits (Guardian)

Remember also, that CO2 tax is basically just a mean to redistribute wealth, with the collecting agency (government) deciding where the funds go. Yes, a CO2 tax does incentivize industry to save CO2… but at a cost to economies, the environment, and often children.

I believe you start seeing my point. Any economist will confirm that pricing one externality but not others leads to economic distortions and, many would say worse, environmental impacts.

Distortion is another word for unintended consequence to the environment, our economies, and the people. Pricing CO2 only during combustion but not pricing methane, or raw material inefficiency, or embodied energy, or energy shortages, or recycling inefficiency, or land requirement, or recycling inefficiency, or greening from CO2… will cause undesirable outcomes. The world will be worse off economically and environmentally.

Protest if you must, but let me offer a simple example. The leaders of the Western world seem to have united around abandoning coal immediately, because it is the highest CO2 emitter during combustion (UN). Instead – demanding reliable and affordable energy – Bangladesh, Pakistan, Germany, and so many more nations have embraced liquified natural gas (LNG) as a “bridge” fuel to replace coal. This “switch” is done despite questions about LNG’s impact on the environment, including the “climate”. This policy, supported by almost all large consultancies, indirectly caused blackouts affecting over 150 Million people in Bangladesh in October 2022 (Reuters and Bloomberg).

For full disclosure, I support all reliable and efficient means of energy supply, including gas. I own shares in gas companies, and I have worked a significant portion of my time in the commodity and coal industries. However, trust me, I gain nothing from this article or my position.

Prof. Claudia Kemfert (green “energy transition” protagonist, energy economist, “climate scientist”, energy advisor to the German government) wrote an academic paper in 2022 pointing out that fugitive methane from gas production has a higher “climate” impact than CO2. Our own earlier academic paper from 2022 available in German and English at Elsevier’s SSRN goes one step further (see also on YouTube). Using only IPCC and IEA data, it turns out that LNG on average is “worse for the climate” than coal. It turns out that anthropogenic airborne CO2 “only” accounts for 35% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases at the IPCC’s 20-year Global Warming Potential GWP20. Now, I do have concerns about the validity of those GWP and climate sensitivity assumptions of the IPCC, but we used them anyway, maybe we shouldn’t have.

So, the world is embarking on an expensive, Putin-supporting venture to replace as much coal as possible with more expensive LNG. As a result, energy costs go up, dependencies increase, lights go off, and, as per the UN’s IPCC, the “climate gets worse.”

Figure C: Environmental Impact of Energy Systems

Source: Schernikau, adapted from Figure 39 in Book “The Unpopular Truth… about Electricity and the Future of Energy“, and on Amazon

This is exactly the result of CO2 taxation – just one example of an environmental and economic distortion. By focusing only on CO2, Bangladesh is driven to overreliance on LNG and goes dark. If methane (CH4) from LNG’s production and other sources were taxed, the world changes. Now imagine what would happen if we would truly take into account all environmental and human impacts – both negative and positive – along the entire value chain of energy production, transportation, processing, generation, consumption, and recycling… in so many words… you would be surprised! You would look with different eyes at fossil fuels and certainly nuclear.

That is why I do not support any CO2 pricing, even not along the entire value chain. That is why I fight for honest environmental and economic justice to make a truly positive difference for our future generations, to avoid energy starvation and resulting poverty. We need INvestment in, not DIvestment from 80% of our energy supply to rationalize our energy systems and to allow people and the planet to flourish.

I strongly support increasing adaptation efforts, which has already been successful in drastically reducing anyone’s chance of dying from natural disasters during the past 100 year and reduced GDP adjusted financial damage from those same disasters (OurWorldInData, Pielke 2022, Economist).

Please tell me where I got the logic wrong.

Dr. Lars Schernikau is an energy economist, commodity trader, and author based in Singapore and Switzerland. He studied finance at New York University, received his MBA at INSEAD in France, and obtained his PhD in Energy Economics from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany. Prior to joining the commodity business, Lars worked for several years at the Boston Consulting Group in the US and Germany. His recent book “The Unpopular Truth… about Electricity and the Future of Energy” is available at Amazon and


Supplementary commentary and notes

For more research and analyses see or

Author’ note on damages from climatic changes (Figure D):

  • McKinsey estimates annual costs of 9.2 Trillion USD until 2050 to reach “Net Zero” CO2. This is roughly 8% of global annual GDP, every single year until 2050. It must be noted that McKinsey did not model the cost of methane “NetZero” nor any cost to the environment, the population, or industries from rising energy costs and energy shortages (Bloomberg)… therefore, in my humble view, the costs are drastically underestimated.
  • Future cost of climatic changes were calculated by Prof. Nordhaus (2018 Noble Price Winner in Climate Economics for exactly this calculation) to be 3.8% of GDP in the year 2100 in his base case – or no climate policy scenario – at 4 °C warming from pre-industrial times until 2100.
  • It must be noted that (1) the GDP in 2100 is expected to be ~4.5x higher than today… so after 3.8% reduction it would result in “only” ~4.3x higher, (2) Nordhaus used the unrealistic RCP8.5 emissions scenario and assumes no adaptation, (3) UN Climate Change informed in October 2022, the world is “on track for around 2.5 °C of warming by the end of the century” not the 4 °C assumed by Nordhaus, and (4) the IPCC 2018, p256 mentioned a 2.6% GDP loss in 2100 from 3.7 °C warming.
  • Interestingly, Prof. Nordhaus concluded in his Noble Price winning paper “… there is virtually no chance that the rise in temperature will be less than the target 2°C even with immediate, universal, and ambitious climate change policies.”

Figure D: Peer-reviewed literature confirms «un-catastrophic» GDP Impact of projected temperature increases… we should still adapt and further reduce any impact.

Source: Schernikau adapted from Kahn et al 2021 (their best estimates shaded in grey)

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Philip Mulholland
January 28, 2023 1:09 am

Atmospheric carbon dioxide gas does not now, has never in the geological past and never will in the future be the driver of Earth’s climate.
The Application of the Dynamic Atmosphere Energy Transport Climate Model (DAET) to Earth’s Semi-Opaque Troposphere

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
January 28, 2023 6:52 am

Baloney Alert
Manmade CO2 emissions are one of many climate change variables
The evidence is strong
Your claim is weak

Virtually every climate scientist in the world, including nearly every skeptic, from Richard Lindzen to William Happer, recognizes that CO2 is a climate change variable. If you disagree, then it is virtually every climate scientist in the world versus you. And I’m betting on the climate scientists, where there is general agreement among BOTH consensus and skeptic climate scientists.
A lot of scientists have to be wrong for YOU to be right.

Philip Mulholland
Reply to  Richard Greene
January 28, 2023 7:17 am


Your claim is weak

On what mathematical grounds?
Our work builds on the standard radiative model and now incorporates established meteorological processes.

First they ignore you, then they disparage you…

We appear to be making progress.

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
January 28, 2023 10:10 am

Well, both viewpoints have some validity….Richard’s being: CO2 is a climate variable in the amount of a couple of degrees per 400 ppm declining to 1 degree for the next doubling, etc, assuming nothing other than it’s Infrared absorption properties….
Philip’s being…over geological time it appears CO2 has been much higher than today without being any climate crisis that required remediation that didn’t occur naturally…I’m using my own words here so apologies to both Richard and Philip for any misinterpretation.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
January 28, 2023 1:19 pm

I’m hiring you for my public relations.

Natural CO2 was not a climate change variable in the ice core era. The balance of CO2 in the air and oceans varied with the temperature of the oceans — Henry’s Law — a feedback to changes of ocean temperature changes from any cause.

Increasing CO2 +50% since 1850 from manmade CO2 emissions is a climate change variable. But even a worst case assumption — claiming that added CO2 caused all the warming since 1850 (+1.1 degrees C.) shows the added manmade CO2 was harmless.

I would say adding CO2 to the troposphere was beneficial and I advocate for at least 800ppm CO2 in the atmosphere to improve C3 plant growth. But only adding CO2 from burning hydrocarbon fuels with modern pollution controls, or else the added CO2 benefit is offset by the added air pollution of various chemicals.

My desire for MORE CO2 in the air makes Climate Howlers go ga ga.

Then I hit them with the claim that burning hydrocarbon fuels is recycling CO2 that was once in the atmosphere and then was temporarily sequestered underground.

And while they are stunned, I mention that I love global warming here in Michigan — our winters are not as cold as in the 1970s and there is less snow to shove,.

The Climate Howlers then either go berserk, or the nice ones change the subject.

No one is more pro-CO2 than me, except for just about every greenhouse owner in the world.

Daily list of the best climate and energy articles I read each morning

Honest Climate Science and Energy

Reply to  Richard Greene
January 28, 2023 10:15 am

Dick, Philip said CO2 will never be a “driver” of earth’s climate and you changed his word to “climate change variable”.

Do you understand CO2 to be a “driver” of climate?

Reply to  mkelly
January 28, 2023 1:23 pm

I see no difference between climate change variables and drivers of climate change. By “variable”, I only meant a known cause of climate change.

Reply to  Richard Greene
January 28, 2023 12:52 pm

You got that right in your last sentence Richard .
” A lot of scientists have to be wrong .”
No one denies that without CO2 in our atmosphere the earth would be uninhabitable .
It has been known for well over 100 years that the effect of CO2 on climate is logarithmic .
In plain language that means that the first 100 ppm of CO2 produces a certain amount of warming of the atmosphere ,then each doubling has only half the warming effect so that from now on any increase in CO2 levels will have negligible effect on warming .
CO2 is a plant food and without it we would not exist on this planet .
Increasing levels of CO2 will not cause any problems .
It is the unelected UN and many politicians that are the worlds biggest problem using the fear of CO2 to try and control the world .

Reply to  Graham
January 28, 2023 1:34 pm

Of course I agree with everything you wrote.

Without about 150ppm CO2 in the air there would be almost no life on Earth. Maybe just Mother-in-Laws — they are eternal.

The effect of CO2 with laboratory spectroscopy, using artificially dried air, would be stronger than the initial effect in CO2 the atmosphere, with varying levels of water vapor.

But as the troposphere warms from any cause, there is a water vapor positive feedback.

That water vapor positive feedback is limited, because it has never led to runaway global warming in the past, even with CO2 levels 10x higher than today.

My best guess is that more water vapor in a warmer troposphere leads to more clouds, which is a negative feedback to the water vapor positive feedback, by reducing incoming solar energy.

So we are not all going to die from runaway global warming, which exists only in overactive leftist imaginations.

What bothers me the most is how climate scaremongering can be so successful (not here) when the current climate is about as good as it gets for our planet, for humans and animals, and probably the best climate for C3 plants in several million years (they’d prefer 750ppm to 1500ppm CO2 in the atmosphere).

Martin Cornell
Reply to  Richard Greene
January 28, 2023 6:25 pm

To paraphrase Professor Lindzen, the impact of industrial CO2 is true, but trivial. Happer goes out of his way to show the physics behind “trivial”.

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
January 28, 2023 2:00 pm

Philip Mulholland’s assertion is that CO2 is not the driver of Earth’s climate. Richard Greene calls that baloney, saying that CO2 is “one of many climate change variables”.

To my mind, Richard Greene has just argued that Philip Mulholland is correct – if CO2 is “one of many” then it is not “the”. Incidentally, under the ‘rules’ of normal english, I interpret “the” as meaning “the principal” rather than “the only”.

Stephen Wilde
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 31, 2023 12:45 pm

Let me weigh in here as the person who provided the meteorological concepts that inspired Philip’s amazing figure work.
CO2 (or rather ALL radiative material within an atmosphere) is indeed A climate driver but according to our numbers the effect of the trivial amount of CO2 within our atmosphere is overwhelmed by internal system (ocean currents, volcanoes and biosphere shifts) and solar driven variability to a level where our effect is indistinguishable from the background.
The tiniest adjustments to convective overturning are sufficient to suppress any variations attributable to our puny emissions.
It is likely that the ice cores fail to record short term natural atmospheric CO2 variations caused by changes in the oceanic absorption/emission balance.
Henry’s Law does not strictly apply because it relies on the water remaining stable in two dimensions. What we actually have is regions of upwelling and regions of downwelling in three dimensions that render Henry’s Law inappropriate as a measure of what should be expected.
It is also likely that CO2 being heavier than air our emissions are quickly absorbed locally and regionally by surrounding vegetation. Otherwise our satellite sensors would show plumes of CO2 downwind of population centres but they do not.
Instead they show plumes of CO2 downwind of sun warmed oceans with concentrations highest where ocean winds are slowed down by an obstructing land mass.
Our DAET model works for every planet for which we have sufficient observations.and Philip has compiled figures that prove it.
Convection causes the delay in solar energy emission to space that causes the observed surface temperature enhancement and it would happen even with no radiative gases or particulates at all. If radiative material tries to heat the system by radiating downward then convection adjusts to raise that material to a height where energy to space equals energy to the surface for a zero net effect overall.
For our emissions we could never measure the miniscule difference.

January 28, 2023 1:46 am

Hi Dr Lars,
Your approach tries to avoid too much direct conflict with the purveyors of the climate crisis, but the concept of “CO2 footprint” was refuted some years ago by the OCO (orbiting carbon observatory) launched by NASA in 2014. This was allowed to map atmospheric CO2 over most of the planet for a year, and was expected to show up all the “bad places”. The 2014-5 results were published. Lands in the southern hemisphere showed – nothing. The dominant airflows across Australia indicated very little change. The northern hemisphere showed a substantial flux, but this is entirely explained by the fact of waters holding more CO2 when cold, releasing it when warmed and the coincident shutting down and waking up of photosynthesis in the vast arboreal and grassland expanses.
No global results have been released since then. It now appears that results from the satellite are now restricted to very small areas. The 2014-5 results are not easy to find, but some of us have copies of the published sequence.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  martinc19
January 28, 2023 3:25 am

Funny how NASA hides the OCO satellites results. You would think they would be trumpeting the results all around the world. The reason they don’t must mean that the results don’t fit in with their human-caused climate change narrative. When you are running a scam, it is necessary to hide the truth.

Lars S.
Reply to  martinc19
January 28, 2023 9:54 am

fully understand, Martinc19… that is why i titled it “no matter what your view…”

Ron Long
January 28, 2023 2:02 am

OK, a pox on “carbon credits” and the like, but the article skips over the fact: there is no valid comparison of the cost/benefit ratio of anthropogenic CO2 forcing and feedback. Compare a NASA measured 10% greening of the earth (probably also producing increased crop yields) against what? No change in sea level progress, no increase in floods or droughts, no increase in accumulated cyclonic energy world-wide, so against what?

Steve Case
January 28, 2023 2:29 am

“Now, I do have concerns about the validity of those GWP and climate sensitivity assumptions of the IPCC, but we used them anyway, maybe we shouldn’t have.”

The usual claim from climate science and media reporting is that Methane is so many times more powerful than CO2 at trapping heat, typically ~86 times more powerful. However the statement never follows through by informing the target audience how much methane is projected to increase global temperature by 2100 or in the next 100 years. The answer of course is nearly nothing, less than a tenth of a degree.


     “Prof. Claudia Kemfert … wrote an academic paper in 2022
     pointing out that fugitive methane from gas production has
     a higher “climate” impact than CO2.”

Neither Professor Kemfert nor anyone else ever says how much that impact is. They certainly must know, but they choose to keep mum about it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Case
Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Steve Case
January 28, 2023 2:46 am

As the IR spectrum of methane is entirely covered by that of water vapour, I’m going to take a wild stab at zero effect.

Steve Case
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
January 28, 2023 3:27 am

Well, there is that (-:

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
January 28, 2023 3:29 am

Alarmist climate scientists are such liars.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 28, 2023 7:00 am

The have to be liars to be climate alarmists. After many decades of global warming from 1975 ti 2015, the climate is better, not worse than in 1975. The irst lie is ignoring that reality.

The current climate is the best climate for humans, animals, AND ESPECIALLY C3 PLANTS, IN 5,000 years since the Holocene Climate Optimum period ended. We should be celebrating the current climate. It doesn’t get much better than this on our planet. A warming trend during an interglacial is ideal.

Daily lists of the best climate and energy articles I read today:

Honest Climate Science and Energy

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
It doesnot add up
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
January 28, 2023 5:02 am

Slightly above zero, but not much.

Other things being equal, this will cause a temperature increase of about 0.012 C year−1. Proposals to place harsh restrictions on methane emissions because of warming fears are not justified by facts.

Last edited 1 month ago by It doesnot add up
Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 28, 2023 7:06 am

Climate howlers can honestly say methane is a strong greenhouse gas while dishonestly avoiding the reality that the current level is tiny and the overlap with the greenhouse effect of water is huge.

The Climate Howlers will be honest only when a fact helps their narrative and silent about facts or observations that do not help

It would not surprise me if the claimed methane will kill your dog. They will say anything to scare people about the climate, And repeat it endlessly like a tape loop

Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
January 28, 2023 10:20 am

“wild stab”
You can run it on UChicago Modtran, and get much better than a “wild stab”. CH4 has a larger molecular cross section and more vibration modes, so each molecule IS more IR absorptive, but at 1.8 ppm CH4 versus 400 ppm for CO2…..well any $ spent on CH4 emissions reduction could be better spent on CO2 reduction, and that’s if you consider CO2 to be a problem.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
January 30, 2023 12:26 pm

If methane absorbs more IR radiation than CO2 (I’ve read about 20 times more), then we should capture as much methane as possible and burn it for fuel. Burning one mole of methane produces one mole of CO2 (and two moles of steam), which only causes 5% of the warming as the original methane, plus we get about 192 kcal of energy in the process. Sounds like a win-win.

Those trying to calculate a “cost” of CO2 emissions need to figure in the increased food production due to the additional CO2 in the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution. The true “cost” of CO2 emissions may actually be negative–in other words, a benefit.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Steve Case
January 28, 2023 3:28 am

“The answer of course is nearly nothing, less than a tenth of a degree.”

It’s not worth giving up beef over it.

January 28, 2023 2:43 am

CO2 credits and their trading is a scam and has been from the start. It’s the quasi-religion of Scientism’s equivalent of indulgences and only serves to suck wealth out of the wider economy parasitically.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  MarkH
January 28, 2023 3:33 am

“CO2 credits and their trading is a scam and has been from the start.”

That’s exactly right!

Next thing you know they will be taxing the air we breath. Wait a minute! That’s what they are trying to do!

There are a lot of people in this world who are completely divorced from reality, and too many of these are in positions of leadership. They are screwing our world up at the present time with their delusions.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 28, 2023 7:39 am

There was a time in the UK where they taxed time.
So why not tax air?

January 28, 2023 3:26 am

One-sentence answer: … because pricing one externality but not others leads to economic and environmental distortions… causing human suffering.

In the first five minutes of the first day of Pharmacology, “All drugs have side effects.”

We live in a world of complex interconnected systems that often deliver unexpected results. For some reason humans continue to find this surprising.

This may be mentioned somewhere in the Old Testament.

January 28, 2023 5:44 am

‘The small burden of extra energy costs can be remediated through insulation (which the government can pay for, resulting in thousands of jobs created) and subsidies to the poor that can be covered by the rich paying their fair share. The costs of a warmer globe in electricity usage for cooling, infrastructure destroyed by natural disasters, and diseases both from carbon emissions and a changed environment are vast, maybe incalculable. Lives and houses are much more important than dirty cheap electricity.’

That’s the alarmist reply. All your figures are meaningless, the argument is lost with the deception built into the claims about what “most knowledgeable scientists accept”.

1) Unless you abandon all climate classification systems and define climate as exact weather average, the climate is currently stable, not changing
2) There was was warming starting at the middle/ bottom of the Little Ice Age, the other points are when previous warming continued.
3) and 4) are worse than meaningless without qualification that most do not agree humans contribute a meaningful amount. As demonstrated in examining the data for 97% to 99% studies (Cook, Anderegg, Orestes, Doran &Zimmermann) the agreement is reached only when asking if humans contribute at least a tiny amount, and fell apart when examining for humans being the primary cause. All Knowledgeable scientists agree that Earth’s precession has contributed to warming in the last 200 years. No honest person would leave that statement as it is with the implication that it could explain rapid temperature change.

Reply to  nutmeg
January 28, 2023 7:22 am

” All Knowledgeable scientists agree that Earth’s precession has contributed to warming in the last 200 years”

The direction Earth’s axis of rotation is pointed, known as precession.

The precession of Earth’s spin axis has a profound effect on Earth’s climate, because it controls the timing of the approach of perihelion (the closest approach to the Sun) with respect to Earth’s seasons.

Axial precession is a 25,771.years cycle
How could 200 years have any measurable effect?
200 years is under 0.008% of 25,771 years.
Maybe the dumb scientists believe this, but not the knowledgeable scientists!

The cycle of axial precession spans about 25,771.5 years. Axial precession makes seasonal contrasts more extreme in one hemisphere and less extreme in the other. Currently perihelion occurs during winter in the Northern Hemisphere and in summer in the Southern Hemisphere

Axial precession makes seasonal contrasts more extreme in one hemisphere and less extreme in the other. Currently perihelion occurs during winter in the Northern Hemisphere and in summer in the Southern Hemisphere. This makes Southern Hemisphere summers hotter and moderates Northern Hemisphere seasonal variations.

Axial precession makes seasonal contrasts more extreme in one hemisphere and less extreme in the other. Currently perihelion occurs during winter in the Northern Hemisphere and in summer in the Southern Hemisphere. This makes Southern Hemisphere summers hotter and moderates Northern Hemisphere seasonal variations. But in about 13,000 years, axial precession will cause these conditions to flip, with the Northern Hemisphere seeing more extremes in solar radiation and the Southern Hemisphere experiencing more moderate seasonal variations.

There’s also apsidal precession. Not only does Earth’s axis wobble, but Earth’s entire orbital ellipse also wobbles irregularly, primarily due to its interactions with Jupiter and Saturn. The cycle of apsidal precession spans about 112,000 years. Apsidal precession changes the orientation of Earth’s orbit relative to the elliptical plane.
The combined effects of axial and apsidal precession result in an overall precession cycle spanning about 23,000 years on average.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Reply to  Richard Greene
January 29, 2023 5:33 am

You could have saved yourself some typing by reading the sentence after the one that points out scientists agree that precession affect the climate:

“No honest person would leave that statement as it is with the implication that it could explain rapid temperature change.”

Reply to  Richard Greene
January 30, 2023 12:57 pm

The current orbit of the Earth, with the perihelion in Northern Hemisphere winter, is actually advantageous to life on earth. Insolation in any area is a product of the total solar radiation and the sine of the sun angle above the horizon.

Around the perihelion, solar radiation is maximized, and the sun angle is higher in the Southern Hemisphere than the Northern Hemisphere. Around the aphelion (farthest distance from the sun), solar radiation is minimized, and the sun angle is higher in the Northern Hemisphere.

The insolation rate undergoes larger seasonal fluctuations in the Southern Hemisphere (where the radiation and sun angle are nearly in sync) than in the Northern Hemisphere (where the radiation and sun angle move in opposite directions).

Most of the Southern Hemisphere is covered by water, which tends to reflect most of the excess solar radiation in summer, and moderate the climate of the few land masses (Australia, most of South America, and a small portion of Africa) in winter. Most of the mid-south latitudes (about 35 to 65 degrees) are completely covered by water. Despite the wide fluctuation in insolation, the climate in the Southern Hemisphere is tempered by the prevalence of the ocean.

The Northern Hemisphere has somewhat smaller seasonal fluctuations in insolation, but much of its surface is covered by land, which tends to heat up faster in summer, and lose more heat in winter, than the oceans. North America, most of northern Africa, and the huge Eurasian land mass cover much more area than the land in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in the middle latitudes. There are much larger seasonal fluctuations in climate in the Northern Hemisphere, despite the smaller fluctuations in insolation, due to the much larger land area.

If precession will (in the distant future) result in the perihelion in Northern Hemisphere summer, the seasonal fluctuation in insolation will be accentuated, with more extreme heat in summer and cold in winter than now. But those of us alive today won’t have to worry about it, since we will be long dead by then.

Scarecrow Repair
Reply to  nutmeg
January 28, 2023 7:38 am

“The small burden of extra energy costs can be remediated through insulation (which the government can pay for, resulting in thousands of jobs created)”

Stop right there, original author (I don’t know who nutmeg is quoting)! You are an economic ignoramus.

  • Governments pay for nothing; people do, taxpayers.
  • Those thousands of jobs include mostly government bureaucrats, who are all unproductive parasites.
Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
January 28, 2023 9:25 am

I wasn’t clear enough with the single quote vs. double quote and including the next sentence, “That’s the alarmist reply” in a paragraph instead of by itself.

My intent was to paraphrase the politician and MSM response to when others have pointed out the consequences of anti-carbon policies.

January 28, 2023 6:30 am

… because pricing one externality but not others leads to economic and environmental distortions …

Isn’t that the point?

Lars S.
Reply to  rovingbroker
January 28, 2023 9:55 am

correct, rovingbroker

Scarecrow Repair
January 28, 2023 7:31 am

Yes, carbon pricing, whether or not you want to be pedantic and call it CO2 pricing, is a stupid tax. But all taxes target just one aspect of life, they all distort markets, they are all harmful in their own ways, they are all stupid in their own ways.

But taxing carbon is even stupider than most taxes because carbon is as much the source of life as oxygen. Most US sales taxes (I do not know about VAT and other consumption taxes) do not tax food. But taxing carbon is taxing food.

Taxing carbon is also in pursuit of the harmful goal of reducing CO2, and in pursuit of the false goal of reducing climate warming. Taxing carbon is as moral as taxing breathing and eating.

Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
January 28, 2023 10:59 pm

New Zealand grows food to feed 40 million people from a population of 5 million.
Can any one here explain why our stupid government wants to tax our farmers for enteric methane emissions ,nitrous oxide emissions and emissions from farm machinery and manufacturing facilities ?
86% of our food is exported so why do the countries buying our food not pay for emissions if they are worried about global warming?
Customers only pay what they have to and the Fonterra Dairy Company holds a global auction every second Tuesday through out the year .
I am quite sure that major customers pay for quality and may be a small premium for very low carbon footprint but they certainly won’t volunteer to pay extra because we as farmers have paid a tax on the food produced .
What are your thoughts?

January 28, 2023 7:52 am

Article says:”Let me start with the usual disclaimer that I (and most knowledgeable scientists) agree that…”

This is Clintonesque in noting that if you disagree with him you are not knowledgeable. Freeman Dyson disagrees so enough said.

Leslie MacMillan
January 28, 2023 5:27 pm

Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2…while it lasts. In the short term, fugative methane release when added to the direct CO2 from burning it causes more GHG effect than gasoline and about the same as coal, per unit of combustion heat. However that’s only in the short-term. In the long term, the methane eventually degrades to CO2 under ultraviolet radiation in the atmosphere. One molecule of CH4 becomes 1 molecule of CO2. Because the amount of CH4 leaked into the atmosphere is so much less than CO2 from burning it, it adds (ultimately) very little CO2 to that from combustion. But in the short term, the extraction, transportation, and burning of methane does release two greenhouse gasses of roughly equal effect: a small amount of highly potent methane from leakage and a large amount of weakly potent CO2 from combustion. (I’m not qualified to opine as to whether the overlap of the IR absorption of methane and water vapour is important.)

So it depends on the time perspective. And remember, even if the methane eventually goes away, we are continually adding more to the atmosphere..

This does illustrate a weakness in carbon taxing. The only GHG being taxed is CO2.. Methane leakage is not being taxed, incentivizing a perverse (in the short term) switch from gasoline-powered cars to electric cars being recharged with gas electricity. The more you study details, the more you realize that our ability to make big impacts is very small no matter what we do, short of just rendering ourselves extinct. Other than air pollution, Dr. Shernikau may be correct that it doesn’t matter much in the short term whether we shift to natural gas or stay with coal.

Source for the above is Howarth and Jacobsen. Energy Science and Engineering 2021. How Green is Blue Hydrogen?


Last edited 1 month ago by Leslie MacMillan
old cocky
Reply to  Leslie MacMillan
January 28, 2023 6:40 pm

The only GHG being taxed is CO2.

There is quite a push to either tax those evil domesticated ruminants (as in NZ) for emitting methane or eliminate them entirely in favour of crickets.

Reply to  old cocky
January 28, 2023 11:15 pm

Yes our go green “gumint ‘ wants to be the first in the world to tax methane from our animals .
This is what happens when a government relies on the Greens to stay in power .
This is the flaw with our MMP electoral law in New Zealand.
A small party gets votes all around the country and they can allocate members of parliament from their list depending on their total votes around the country .
With the two major parties not able to achieve the 50% threshold these small parties become very powerful as they join one or the other major parties .

Kevin Kilty
January 29, 2023 11:06 am

Nicely argued, clear-eyed essay. I may use some of this on Wednesday.

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