Once more into the climate change breach

Usual Guardianista nonsense, to which I respond thusly:

Others say it is too costly to abandon the burning of fossil fuels even if this does dump billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They say we should just put up with those spreading deserts and flooded coastlines – a notion of staggering immorality, according to Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their book Merchants of Doubt. \”This is the equivalent of medical researchers arguing that they shouldn\’t try to cure cancer because it is too expensive and that, in any case, people in the future might decide that dying from cancer is not really that bad.\”

Umm, no actually, it\’s not quite like that cancer analogy.

It\’s rather more like this.

If we stopped using fossil fuels today then billions of people would die. This is regarded as having quite a high cost.

If we carry on using fossil fuels as we are then (possibly, for no, we still don\’t really know what the feedback loops are) billions will die. This is regarded as having quite a high cost.

So, what we want to do is reduce our fossil fuel usage while killing the minimal number of people now and enabling the maximal survival of people in the future.

In short, we want the smallest possible cost now while having the greatest possible benefit in the future.

So how might we work out how to do this? Well, actually, someone has gone and written a great big fat report on this very subject. It\’s called the \”Stern Review\”. You have heard of it I presume? Read it, digested the lessons therein?

That balance that we require, that balancing of costs now against costs in the future, is that we stick an $80 (for very boring technical reasons this actually comes out to £27 per tonne CO2-e) tax on emissions.

And then we\’re done. This is the best we can do, minimise the costs to people alive now while producing the maximum benefit for people in the future.

And guess what? We here in the UK already do this. The combination of fuel duty, air passenger duty, the European Union\’s cap and trade system, the renewables obligation and so on, all add up to exactly that \”we\’re doing the best that can possibly be done\”.

Anyone who has actually read the Stern Review, or at least that subset of people who have actually understood what he\’s saying, will realise that we have already, here in the UK (although Johnny Foreigner still has some way to go) solved climate change.

We\’re done, finished.

And isn\’t that a cheerful message for the season?

6 thoughts on “Once more into the climate change breach”

  1. As to the cancer analogy- if the cost of curing cancer is so great that we need to cut out treatments for heart disease, TB, cholera etc. then paying that cost would condemn many to an earlier death than they would get from cancer- and thus reduce the death rate from cancer.
    It would therefor achieve its stated aim- in reducing deaths from cancer- whilst increasing human misery. Of course diverting resources away from medical treatment altogether would have the same effect, and who knows, maybe the resources used could be diverted to produce an ideal climate- or at least find out what an ideal climate is.

  2. Technically, for moral duties to be served, the money raised ought to be sent to the victims – i.e. we should be using petrol tax to pay to either concrete up the Maldives or give their citizens Western nationality and small-ish trust funds. But yes, overall.

  3. Technically, for moral duties to be served, the money raised ought to be sent to the victims >>

    yes,you hear a lot of that

    wanna bet they will keep the money ,while moving to NZ(ie)..
    and the maldives will never empty of people

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