Global warming realists (that is, those who don't buy the Al Gore-like catastrophism because they see the earth is no warmer than it was 12 years ago) often argue against various forms of energy taxes, but too many stop short of asking alarmists, "What's the benefit?"
The costs demand attention. President Obama's economic advisers admit that their boss's proposed cap-and-trade scheme -- which will indirectly tax greenhouse gas emissions (mostly from electrical utilities' coal-fired power plants) that exceed a yet-to-be-determined limit -- will hit Americans up for an additional $1.9 trillion over the next eight years. A more straightforward carbon tax would lead to similar pain. These consequences should be highlighted often, and they are.
But many who make these points -- like those in conservative talk radio and punditry -- often don't go far enough, because telling the cost side tells only half. Listeners and readers are left with the impression that "yeah, it costs a fortune." But then you can hear their Gore-pressed consciences wonder, "but don't we still have to do something?"
This leads to the next (should be) obvious question -- one the alarmists never have to answer -- which is, "If we do what you are proposing we should do, what will we (or the Earth) get in exchange for what we spend?"
It's the completion of basic economics. Every financial transaction an individual makes takes into account two questions: What is the cost, and what is the benefit derived from that potential expenditure? We've seen the huge financial hit discussed. Whether it's taxing carbon fuels directly; or subsidizing cleaner energy substitutes like wind, solar or biofuels; or subsidizing not-yet-ready technologies like carbon capture and storage, the costs are steep.
But it leaves the alarmists off the hook for the other side of the ledger: What are the benefits? And do the benefits outweigh the costs, even with their heavy price?
To answer these questions means alarmists must back up their science, because their wished-for "solutions" imply that something will change in the atmosphere -- and thus affect global warming -- because of their proposed carbon-constraining policies. But instead of boldly proclaiming the great thermostatic results their policies will produce, they run away from the science they so adamantly claim that they stand behind.
How? Because they cannot explain how much greenhouse gas reduction -- in whatever quantities they propose -- will cause global temperatures to change. For all their jargon-filled technological conversations about how to "solve the problem," they only measure their goals in terms of emissions averted or reduced -- usually quantified in "million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent," or MMtCO2e. How's that for an absurd acronym?
Their beside-the-point planet-saving discussions have been held in more than half the states in the country, among bureaucrat- and lobbyist-laden government study panels, all purportedly to avert global warming. Yet these climate commission members never ask climate scientists or economists what they think.
So it's easy to stump the alarmists when you ask: What will the climate do when we lower MMtCO2e's? Can you doomsayers who so haughtily and demandingly chant "Science! Science! Science!" tell us how your plans will lower temps, save sea levels, and spare species?
They never answer in terms of degrees, so you can conclude that the "benefit" side of the ledger is zero. Sound like a deal you'd want in on?
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