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writing for godot

Slaughter of a Straw Man

Written by William F. Pickard   
Tuesday, 22 December 2015 09:13

In Commentary dated 16 December 2015, Fortune commentator David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation opined “Sanders’ climate change plan won’t do much for global warming” .

In support of this assertion, he cited his calculations made using a Cato Institute calculator. These calculations showed that if America “actually cut its CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, it would moderate world temperature by only 0.04 degrees Celsius by 2050”. He then went on to remark “In other words, the climatic “return on this multi-trillion dollar “investment” would essentially be zero.” Dr. Kreutzer failed to notice:

(A) If the whole earth (and not just the United States) were to cut its CO2 emissions so sharply, this would presumably halt global warming. And this is precisely what Senator Sanders and the Delegates to the Paris Conference would like to see happen. Pointing only at the pain of emissions rescission but not at the gain is unhelpful.

(B) If emissions world wide were cut 80% by 2050, that would presumably be associated with a massive switch away from fossil fuels, a switch which we have to make anyway because we are well on our way to burning through our dowry of fossil fuels by the end of this century.

(C) His “multi-trillion” estimate is based on a Heritage Foundation document that refers to over two and one half dozen scholarly references, none of which the document lists. In short, modest due diligence by this observer brought him to a dead end. But that’s okay, because he full well realizes that, if economics were an exact science, then the Recession of ’08 would surely have been avoided! In short, that dreaded multi-trillion dollar investment might (if cunningly made) even induce a healthy spurt in economic growth! Or, it might not.

(D) If the World chooses to avoid the multi-trillion dollar investment necessitated by switching off of fossil fuels right now, then, climate change or no climate change, it had better have one heck of a plan for what it’s going to do when the inevitable exhaustion of fossil fuels finally does become an irreversible reality.

Doing nothing over the next generation to affect the present Energy/CO2/Climate-Change nexus is certainly a possible strategy for the United States. And it indeed seems likely to save the American public a lot of up front expenditure. However, doing nothing would (i) leave the level of atmospheric CO2 spiralling upwards and (ii) leave us woefully unprepared for the inevitable exhaustion of our supplies of fossil fuels.

William F. Pickard, older ‘n’ dirt, is a retiree (from Washington University in Saint Louis) who specializes in energy matters. He’s pretty much clueless as to how to how the crises confronting America might be surmounted. But at least he has had the good grace not to stand for public office. your social media marketing partner
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