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My response to anthropogenic global warming have been nuanced for sometime – I didn’t trust the institutions researching climate change, yet at the same time I felt a public policy response was necessary.

On the first bit, when global warming started becoming a “scientific consensus” – that’s the time to step back and reconsider the science institutes. There is an inclination to bias when entire institutions, including IPCC, are set up to prove global warming. There will be a tendency to ignore or discount contrary evidence or alternate explanations – and in the case of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, mixing politics and science can corrupt science. Not shocking – politics is corrosive.

At the same time, I find it incredulous anyone could deny human activity having absolutely no impact on the climate. There is already strong evidence to localised environmental problems – take urban heat island effect (where emissions combined with asphalt and concrete to raise local temperatures) or acid rain. It isn’t a dramatic leap to think that pumping the atmosphere full or carbon dioxide and other gases will have no impact on the environment. At the same time, the climate of each region is interdependent on each other – so there have to be some sort of global effect stemming from human activity.

Its easy to understand why climate researchers will have the inclination to exagerate (or in CRU’s case, falsify). Without scaring a population, its impossible to adopt public policy necessary to counteract climate change. And that’s the bit: from the onset, environmentalists sought to politically control choices – walk, don’t drive, don’t buy that plastic bottle of water, sort out your trash.

Lowering green house gas emission became a lot more damaging. Expensive subsidies are granted to “green” projects like biofuels (which escabated the 2007 food crisis) and windmills. People are forced to change their lifestyles. And the method of controlling emissions – carbon trading – specifically allows special interests to manipulate it. Take the United State’s upcoming system, which gives free quotas to utility companies, undermining the principle of carbon trading: making carbon more expensive.

The alternative solution was one advocated by a number of economists: a flat carbon tax. As this carbon tax raise revenue, other taxes could be reduced – income taxes, corporate taxes, stuff like that. In Australia, the new opposition leadership pointed out Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme is a new, expensive tax on Australians. But the impact of carbon pricing will be far lower if the impact of government taxation remains the same. There will still be the cost of distortion, and if anthropogenic climate change is a dud, it is at least a whole lot expensive compared to the current public policy response in North America, Europe and Australia.


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