Unsettling Climate Thoughts — Part III

  • There is a large degree of uncertainty in climate science and forecasts — and even in the measurement of current “actual” data. This is not surprising given the complexity of climate systems, but it stands in shocking contrast to the absolute certainty portrayed in climate headlines: science actually does not prove that climate change is causing more hurricanes and floods; climate change models cannot even reproduce the past; a few years ago “actual” data showed global temperatures had been stable for a decade and a half, then these recent “actual” data suddenly changed.
  • There is a legitimate debate on whether this uncertainty means we should take dramatic action or proceed with more caution;
  • Fighting climate change fast carries substantial costs: lower economic growth and higher global poverty; therefore we need a careful cost-benefit analysis.
  • Everyone says we face an existential crisis, but nobody does what they claim to believe should be done. Governments have barely managed to agree on emission targets that are recognized as insufficient to “save the planet,” and they can’t even meet these perfunctory benchmarks.
  • Most people keep driving, flying, and running their heating and air conditioning the way they always did.
  • Policymakers remain reluctant to tell people that reducing emissions requires major costs and sacrifices. The Biden administration is scaling back its green ambitions, relying mostly on subsidies and tax breaks, because it fears voter backlash to additional costs.
  • Unsurprisingly, polls indicate that people are not willing to sacrifice much to combat climate change: a recent AP poll shows a majority of Americans want the government to accelerate the transition to renewable energy; but barely half would be willing to pay an extra $1 a month on their energy bill, and four in ten won’t even accept a $1 a year increase in gasoline or electricity prices.
  • The current energy crisis has shown what happens when the tradeoffs start to bite: the Biden administration has been one of the strongest advocates of eliminating fossil fuels and reducing emissions. But as energy prices increased, this same administration begged OPEC to increase the supply of fossil fuels. It did not tell us this was a great opportunity to adjust our thermostats and leave our cars in the garage.

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Marco Annunziata

Marco Annunziata

1.6K Followers

Economics & innovation at www.AnnunziataDesai.com; Co-host, M4Edge Tech podcast; Former Chief Economist & head of business innovation strategy at GE.