The Answer to the Global Warming Policy Question

Environmentalists “know” that we are wrecking the climate, and we are doomed.

The deniers “know” that we are not.

The right answer: We don’t know which it will be, but we should not risk the Earth while waiting for the scientists. The U.N. Report disagrees with both sides. It says there’s a 95% change that half of the warming since 1950 was caused by people. That means there’s a 5% chance that global warming will be much milder than the environmentalists claim.

My view (11/1/2011), after reading extensively and having some science background, is that it’s about as likely to be three times milder than environmentalists claim (really bad) as to be as bad as they say. I’m a bit of a skeptic. Its not unreasonable to be somewhat more pessimistic or optimistic than the UN report.

So what does all this tell us? Everyone pays good money to buy insurance against things that probable won’t happen — like their house burning down, or running over someone while driving, or a horrible illness. We don’t wait and see. You can buy a new house. You can’t find a new Earth.

What to do. We should take action now. But the good news is that at the start it’s cheap — if you are smart about it. The problem with the environmentalists is that they don’t care about wasting money for a good cause. I agree the cause it good, but it’s a sin (and politically foolish) to waste other people’s money.

They will claim they don’t. But I’m an economist, and I’ve worked with Environment Canada, The World Bank, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the UK’s Dept. of Energy and Climate Change, and I’ve done lots of research in this area. Believe me, the environmentalist are the worst money wasters this side of crony capitalism. But just because they are stupid about this, does not mean we should risk the Earth. It just means we need better environmentalists.