13 December 2009

Shellenberger and Nordhaus on Copenhagen

At the Breakthrough Institute blog. Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus have a thoughtful essay on the meaning of Copenhagen. They cover a lot of territory and in characteristic fashion, they don't leave you guessing as to their views. Here is a short excerpt to whet your appetite:
Copenhagen, like the Waxman-Markey climate legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last June, revealed the most delusional natures of liberals, conservatives, greens and skeptics alike. Skeptics and conservatives claimed that Waxman-Markey would have a devastating impact on the U.S. economy. Greens claimed it would result in a low-carbon economy for the cost of a postage stamp a day. In truth, as all independent analyses show, the legislation will have little to no impact on energy prices or the economy -- for the simple reason that it will do little to reduce emissions or deploy low carbon energy technologies.

Yet, from London to Canberra to Washington, D.C., liberals and greens sell business-as-usual policies as the keys to averting ecological apocalypse. And everywhere conservatives and skeptics warn that these same policies will lead to economic ruin. The denialists' pas de deux continues, the multiple echo chambers spinning in unison.

In this environment, skeptics and greens alike make hallucinogenic statements and create bizarre media stunts. The president of the Maldives, a nation of 300,000 people, summoned the press corps to a "cabinet meeting" -- under water, in scuba gear -- based on the apparent belief that such media stunts will persuade China and India, nations of two billion people, to fundamentally alter their development paths. Youth climate activists sing "Give Peace a Chance" not because global warming is like war but because it's the best protest song they knew.
Head over and read the whole thing. There is enough in there for everyone to find something to agree with or disagree with, but regardless of your views, Shellengberger and Nordhaus will make you think.

Note: I am a Senior Fellow of The Breakthrough Institute, and proud of it.