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The Hidden Costs of Capping Emissions

By Robert Romano

“Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80 per cent. All those grandiose projects for ‘emissions trading', ‘carbon capture', building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to ‘biofuels' are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess.”—By Christopher Booker, “2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved,” December 29th, 2008.

If 2008 was the year global warming was disproved, 2009 may be the year that the agenda of radical environmentalism is laid to waste.

As ALG News has reported, the scientific “consensus” around man-made global warming has unraveled like an old ribbon. And now, the economic “consensus” around it may be starting to unwind as well.

With the economy in a clear downturn, the people are questioning the costs of going green. Suddenly it is not so fashionable to save the planet. It may become more important to restore economic growth than to strangle energy output.

It's simple, really. If financial capital was the lifeblood of the economy, energy is its food. And without it, or if it costs too much, nations the world over would be unable to sustain their peoples. The American people were given a powerful lesson on what energy price shocks can feel like this past summer, and they will not be eager to pay that price again.

By constraining the use not for conservation but out of ideological imperative, the economic consequences are negative: an additional price is attached to the use of energy. That additional cost is not the product of a supply shortage, but of regulation that constrains the use of that supply.

And it is a cost that the economy simply cannot afford right now.

Carbon cap-and-trade, or other like restrictions on emissions, could cost the global economy trillions in excessive taxes, increased prices and restrictions. These costs are deliberate, the product of a policy that is designed to change people's behavior to use less carbon-based energy.

That is the basic argument in favor of reducing carbon emissions: By increasing costs, the consumer will only be able to consume less.

But it's more like a dirty secret that advocates of reducing carbon emissions do not wish to be emphasized. And it is one that opponents of capping carbon emissions who wish to save the energy industries must point out: The costs of wasting precious capital in the midst of a global economic meltdown are unbearable.

In the end, there is a cap on how much the greens will be able to accomplish, and that will be directly proportional to how well the opponents of radical environmentalism capitalize upon the fissures in the scientific “consensus” on “man-made” climate change, and how well they promote the true costs of capping carbon emissions to the American people.

Robert Romano is the Editor of ALG News Bureau.


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