Wednesday, August 18, 2021

A Full Frontal Assault

Conservatives -- particularly American Republicans -- argue that we simply can't afford to reduce CO2 emissions. Paul Krugman cites four reasons why they're wrong:

First, the U.S. economy has consistently done better under Democratic presidents than under Republican presidents — a pattern so strong that even progressive economists admit that it’s puzzling. Whatever the cause of this partisan disparity, a party devoted to the zombie doctrine that tax cuts solve all problems has no standing to lecture us on what’s good for the economy.

Second, there is a remarkable inconsistency between conservatives’ expressed faith in the power of private initiative and their assertion that climate policies will paralyze the economy. Businesses, the right likes to tell us, are engines of innovation and adaptation, rising to meet any challenge. Yet somehow the same people who laud private-sector creativity insist that businesses will shrivel up and die if confronted with new regulations or emission fees.

In fact, a number of studies have shown that government projections of the effects of new environmental or safety regulations consistently overestimate their costs, precisely because businesses respond to new rules and incentives by innovating, finding ways to reduce compliance costs. And industry projections of the adverse effects of regulation are far worse, typically overstating the costs to a ludicrous degree.

Third, history strongly refutes the notion that there’s any necessary link between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions.

Consider the case of Britain, where modern economic growth began. British emissions of carbon dioxide have been falling for half a century, despite a growing economy. On a per-capita basis, Britain’s CO₂ emissions are back down to what they were in the ’50s — the 1850s, when real G.D.P. per person was only about one-ninth what it is today.

Finally, Republican insistence that we must remain dependent on fossil fuels is especially strange, given huge technological progress in renewable energy — progress so remarkable that the Trump administration tried to force power companies to keep using coal, which is no longer competitive on cost. Improved technology means that climate action looks far easier now than it did in, say, 2008, when John McCain called for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, a position that would be disqualifying for anyone seeking the Republican presidential nomination today.

We live at a time -- particularly on The Right -- when facts don't matter. They have always mattered in the reality-based community. The problem is that the reality-based community is enduring a full-frontal assault from The Right.



The Disaffected Lib said...

It is so disheartening that, with the clock fast running out, we're still having this argument. So many of these denialist arguments were settled 30 years ago but they just keep getting recycled. We're left treading water while that water rises rapidly.

Owen Gray said...

It's truly depressing to see such willful ignorance, Mound -- and on a grand scale.