Friday, May 4, 2007

Act Three: ACT!

We have been following the releases of the summaries for policymakers in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Executive Summary and Doom below) as though a play in three acts.

Act One: the scene is set, the villain, carbon, is shown in his evil lair, his plots already hatching.

Act Two: Carbon's plots are revealed, the deaths, the tyranny, the destruction already among us and bound to grow worse.

Now, Act Three: The hero raises his sword and what? Who let all these economists in?

The dismal science dominates this report and it is very heavily ladened with GDPs, sectors, carbon prices and mitigation potentials. Nowhere does the word "prosperity" appear in the report even though this is what it points to; talk about dismal. Let's see if we can make sense of it: The basic idea is that by increasing the price for carbon emissions, you reduce them. So, what will the impact of this be on economic activity? As it turns out, there is little downside and in some models economic activity is increased (more jobs at better pay). As we saw in the last post the green numbers look very very good. The choice is now clear even if the report is a little hard to read. Reduce carbon emissions and improvements in energy security, pollution, technological base and improved health follow in such a way that reducing emissions to stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere seems almost secondary.

So, stabilization can be accomplished by just doing it. No one is going to die from doing it and most people will live better as a result. Let's act and no longer let fear of economic bogeymen keep us in the pathos of indecision.

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