Johnny Porritt

Just in case anyone was, you know, wondering.

What makes politics so fascinating today is its bipolarity. We can\’t help but live simultaneously in two worlds: one based on abundant fossil fuels, the pursuit of economic growth at almost all costs, rampant consumerism and grotesque inequality; and one based on elegant, very low-carbon, hyper-efficient lifestyles, in a fairer, less frenetic, genuinely sustainable world.

Sir Jonathan isn\’t arguing that we simply need to reduce carbon outputs so as to reduce or eliminate climate change. Oh no, he\’s using climate change as a crowbar with which to force us all to live the way he thinks we ought to rather than the way we wish to.

Just in case you were wondering….

9 comments on “Johnny Porritt

  1. Tim,

    Do you believe that “that we simply need to reduce carbon outputs so as to reduce or eliminate climate change”

    Tim adds: Well, no, not quite. That part of climate change (hey, even the IPCC thinks some of it is to do with the Sun) that we are causing by carbon emissions would indeed stop if we reduced the carbon outputs. And I go on to think that we’re not going to reduce emissions by a “radical change to our lifestyle”, rather, we’re going to invent new technologies that provide the transport, energy etc we desire without carbon emissions.

    However, much the most important point to me is that we don’t want to spend more in trying to reduce emissions than the benefits that will accrue from a reduction in emissions. And yes, that does include growth forgone, growth that our descendents cannot enjoy because we decided to crippled the economy in the name of Gaia. Thus my continual advocacy of Pigou taxes. We end up with the socially optimal amount of climate change by imposing them.

  2. The trouble with pigou taxes is that they can’t be market tested- Stern calculated one figure others a figure some forty times smaller, and we’ve no way of knowing if either is right. Its generally better to do nothing than it is to do the wrong thing.

  3. “Its generally better to do nothing than it is to do the wrong thing.”

    OK, but let’s start with a very clear point: Stern is, at present, the worst calculated case, and we are already paying over or around Stern, so the first thing to be done is to make sure we get no more green taxes.

  4. Porritt will be all right. He’ll have his elite carbon swipe card that allows him to splurge more carbon than the rest of us because of his important earth saving work.

  5. Bjorn Lomborg identified this mindset in his 2001 book (Skeptical Environmentalist). For instance he refers to the response of some major scientists to the possibililty of having abundant energy in the form of Cold Fusion. The response from some was that it would lead to the rampant development of the planet and so, basically, accelerate it’s destruction – ‘like giving a machine gun to an idiot child’.

    Lomborg also went on to get us to ask ourselves what exactly it was we were arguing for, a new way of living (a la Gore) or a fixing of the Greenhouse Effect?

    We should know by now what’s behind the fight against Global Warming and it’s not the fixing of the greenhouse effect or even it’s neutralizing via a Nordhaus carbon tax. The amazing thing is that recently the UK parliament voted in an ambitious climate change plan by a clear majority and over here in Ireland there is not a single deputy who has challenged Kyoto or the proposed Kyoto II despite the staggering economic arguments against them.

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