25 September 2009

Everyone Who Disagrees with My Politics is a Denier

Unless I have completely confused a strawman argument for something substantive, which is always possible, Paul Krugman calls for more "disdain" to be used in debate over climate policies. From his column today:
It’s important, then, to understand that claims of immense economic damage from climate legislation are as bogus, in their own way, as climate-change denial. Saving the planet won’t come free (although the early stages of conservation actually might). But it won’t cost all that much either. . . So here’s the bottom line: The claim that climate legislation will kill the economy deserves the same disdain as the claim that global warming is a hoax. The truth about the economics of climate change is that it’s relatively easy being green.
I can do disdain also -- It is easy, it won't cost much. Right.

16 comments:

Andrew said...

"The truth about the economics of climate change is that it’s relatively easy being green."

We are supposed to take the economic prognostications of an adherent to long discredit economic ideas seriously? What deserves disdain, is everything that comes out of any Keynesian's mouth that isn't an apology.

markbahner said...

"I can do disdain also -- It is easy, it won't cost much. Right."

Would you like to debate the matter? I'll take Paul Krugman's position.

Seriously.

Here would be the resolution:

"Resolved: The truth about the economics of climate change is that it's relatively easy being green. Reducing global positive climate forcing by 80% by 2080 won't cost 'much.'"

If you'd like to debate that resolution, I'll be happy to provide my initial argument for the Affirmative.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-2-Mark

That resolution is not really the Krugman resolution ;-) E.g., he doesn't say anything about "positive climate forcing".

markbahner said...

-3 Roger, "That resolution is not really the Krugman resolution ;-) .g., he doesn't say anything about 'positive climate forcing'."

OK, I was trying to produce something that could be debated scientifically. If I had the resolution as "saving the planet won't cost much" it would be less scientific. (And also a piece of cake to debate in the Affirmative.)

How about, "Resolved: The truth about the economics of climate change is that it's relatively easy being green"?

Or what other Resolution would you propose (that you think accurately represents Paul Krugman's position, and with which you disagree)?

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-4-Mark

Far be it from me to ascertain what Krugman has in mind!

Andrew said...

Ah, I see what Scugman is up to now. "Relatively Easy".

Relative to what exactly? What a weasel.

markbahner said...

"4-Mark

Far be it from me to ascertain what Krugman has in mind!"

So you heap disdainful sarcasm on what he says, but you don't even know what he has in mind? That doesn't sound very helpful to anyone!

Don't you disagree with what he's saying? If you disagree with what he's saying, put what he's saying into the form of a debating resolution, and I'll be happy to debate it. (Even if I don't agree with Krugman that "the planet" needs to be "saved," because I don't think global warming poses any significant risk to the planet, on balance.)

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-7-Mark

Here is a resolution for a debate:

"resolved: Everyone who opposes Waxman-Markey is a climate denier"

That is something more along the line of argument I get from Krugman.

markbahner said...

8-Roger,

"Here is a resolution for a debate:

'resolved: Everyone who opposes Waxman-Markey is a climate denier'"

OK. I was just skimming your post, and I missed that Krugman is talking about "climate change legislation".

Krugman says "climate change legislation" (presumably Waxman-Markey) will not cause "immense economic damage." He also says it will "not wreck the economy."

Don't you agree with both those assessments?

Isn't where you disagree with Paul Krugman that:

1) you think Waxman-Markey will have no impact on climate change, and

2) you don't think it's a good idea to pass legislation that will cost multiple billions of dollars (even if it won't wreck the economy) if it has no impact on climate change or damages therefrom?

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-9-Mark

It is pretty hard for me to say where Krugman and I disagree because Krugman doesn't say what he thinks about policy. Rather he engages in some vague generalizations and then swears tribal allegiance to those on his team. And yes, that is a view I am happy to heap disdainful sarcasm on;-)

My views are clear:

1) Waxman-Markey won't accelerate decarbonization of the US economy. In fact it sustains business as usual or worse.

2) It won't cost much to consumers because increasing costs is a losing political position. This is just politics 101.

3) If policies are supposed to achieve decarbonization there are better ways to go about this.

Andrew said...

Of course it won't "Wreck the economy" there's no more wrecking to do! After all, Scugman says that he is speaking "relatively" and relative to 9.7% unemployment, how bad could it possibly be?

10- "It won't cost much to consumers because increasing costs is a losing political position. This is just politics 101." Wow Roger that's very naive...

deepclimate said...

Yes, Roger you have mistaken Krugman's substantive argument for a "sraw man".

Krugman disdains "claims of immense economic damage from climate legislation". There are indeed many such claims concerning not only climate legislation in general, but Waxman-Markey in particular.

Are you really going to make me look them up for you? I'm willing to do that, but only if you fix this blog so that "cut-and-paste" is enabled. As it is, it's a little too wonky for me to bother with.

jgdes said...

The odd thing about Krugman is that he doesn't seem to realize that the economy is already on it's knees so it doesn't take much to kill it off. We need to encourage entrepreneurs not burden them with more paperwork and taxes. The trouble with economists is that most of them have never run a business. CO2 output is already happening thanks to factories closing. Is that supposed to be a good thing?

Andrew you are mistaken. Keynes was never discredited since his recommendations were highly successful. He just fell out of fashion and was replaced with the Chicago school / Washington consensus garbage which is now most certainly discredited. It's really only the Austrian school economists who all predicted this crisis and who therefore should be listened to now. Alas their prescription is that the bankers that caused this mess should be sacked and their banks allowed to fail and Government Sachs wouldn't have that. I highly doubt that Keynes would have recommended quantitive easing since it's no more than a mad gamble.

Krugman does suggest some sensible things in his article and i agree with him and Mark that a lot could be done simply by tightening waste and using newer technology at very little cost. But we could do these things without the cap and trade middleman, which seems only to benefit the traders and nobody else. Everyone need to forget about what the idiot bankers want and think about what entrepreneurs need instead.

Sharon F. said...

If it is "relatively easy" to be green, then doesn't it take on "relatively gentle" policy incentives to get us all the way to full greenishdom?

I wonder how the policy options on the table rank on the G or gentle scale.

markbahner said...

"Krugman does suggest some sensible things in his article and i agree with him and Mark that a lot could be done simply by tightening waste and using newer technology at very little cost."

Whoa. I don't agree that a "lot" could be done "by tightening waste."

My basic point is that significant global carbon dioxide emission reductions (to less than 50% of current global emissions) will only occur with new technology. I don't agree that "tightening waste" (using existing technology) is going to get there.

My other point is that the "new technology" is probably *relatively* inexpensive. But I also think there are basically only 2-3 technologies that will truly "solve" global warming, and I'm not at all confident that the world will choose those technologies.

Specifically, I think we need:

1) Nuclear power, probably from thorium (not uranium),

2) Some form of biofuel based on microbiological or algal growth, and/or

3) Batteries that hold greater than 10 times the present energy density, for less than half the present price.

I think either 1 and 2 or 1 and 3 would be sufficient (we don’t need all three). Further, I think the cost to develop the required technologies—in terms of the amounts spent by governments to get to the point where the technologies are less expensive than alternatives, and therefore are entirely supported by the market—would be at most a few hundred billion dollars, and possibly even less than one hundred billion dollars.

Unfortunately, I don’t think any significant government spending (even 10s of billions of dollars) will be devoted to any of those three technologies. And I think the technologies on which the money has and will be spent (e.g. crop- and cellulosic-based biofuels, carbon capture and sequestration) won't come anywhere near ever reducing emissions by 50% or more.

Andrew said...

jgdes-Which Keynes are you talking about? The one whose theory said that stagflation was impossible? And yet, the seventies...

And how the heck do you claim the Chicago school has been "discredited", but the Austrians are correct? You do realize the overlap between the two, don't you?

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