Kudos to Adam Ozimek for writing:
I will take Brad’s new advice and try to convince the readers of Forbes that a carbon tax is a good idea…. I am a proponent of carbon taxes…. [S]urely higher gas taxes are a good idea. In his Pigou Tax paper Mankiw cites on study that shows of the $2.10 optimal tax on gasoline, only 6 cents was due to global warming. The rest came from other externalities like congestion and accidents. Gas taxes also show us that international “coordination” is possible…. Noah [Smith] is correct that efficiently taxing a globally traded externality producing commodity does require global cooperation. But… many developed nations… [set] high gas taxes, and it’s time we got on board. This will be many times more efficient than CAFE standards…. I am also on board with Noah’s larger suggestion though that we should be heavily subsidizing basic research for clean energy….
[W]hile Noah is correct that carbon taxes and gas taxes are unpopular, so are the taxes that would be needed to raise the money for the research he wants. As Matt Yglesias points out, this money needs to come from somewhere. Better to be tax an activity that generates an externality to raise this money than to tax income or capital gains.
A final important reason conservatives should support taxes and research is because it will help the government get out of the energy regulation business in the long-run. If innovation drives solar and battery prices low enough, the energy sector may become no different than any other industry in producing limited externalities. Thus the special regulatory consideration it merits will no longer exist. That and of course it will help reduce the risk that we destroy the planet. Conservatives should care about that too.
This is especially nice to see because the forbes.com site to which Adam and company have moved Modeled Behavior is a very bad neighborhood. By my count, roughly 40% of top hits for my searches for "site:forbes.com climate change" do the full wingnut. For example:
Climate Change: 'Hoax' Or Crime Of The Century?: [C]limate change [is] a “hoax”… more than that, it’s criminal…. [M]ost of the “greenhouse effect” is due to water vapor, which makes one wonder why the EPA hasn’t designated H2O a harmful pollutant that they must regulate…. [F]or plants, animals, and people, warmer is better…. Who would benefit from this catastrophically expensive agenda? Only the political and politically connected elite—the Goldman Sachs outfits that would reap billions from trading carbon permits…
Doctored Data, Not U.S. Temperatures, Set a Record This Year: U.S. temperatures were significantly warmer during the 1930s than they are today…. [R]aw temperature data show an 80-year cooling trend. NOAA is only able to claim that we are experiencing the hottest temperatures on record by doctoring the raw temperature data…. [T]he alarmists who oversee the collection and reporting of the data simply erase the actual readings and substitute their own desired readings in their place…
And Patrick Michaels:
Climate Change Alarmists Can't Seem To Buy A Major Hurricane: It’s been 2,535 days since the last Category 3 storm, Wilma in 2005, hit the beach…. [T]he global warming hype machine is being reduced to running on Category 1 fumes. Hence last August’s Irene (which was barely a hurricane) and the recent Isaac (with a much more respectable wind field) became the sorry excuses used to hector the public into demanding massive energy taxes…
With only John McQuaid in my top 10 making strong arguments for the reality-based point of view:
Climate change is arguably the biggest challenge the nation and the world face right now. There’s a solid scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming is underway. But in America – to put it gently – there’s a range of beliefs…. This lack of social consensus has paralyzed the political system. Nothing much is happening, or likely to happen for a while. Why?…. University of Michigan professor Andrew J. Hoffman argues in this piece in Stanford Social Innovation Review:
Climate change has become enmeshed in the so-called culture wars. Acceptance of the scientific consensus is now seen as an alignment with liberal views consistent with other “cultural” issues that divide the country (abortion, gun control, health care, and evolution). This partisan divide on climate change was not the case in the 1990s. It is a recent phenomenon…
And the rest made up of things that tell it straight but don't focus on the big picture, like Michael Bobelian:
An Alaskan Town Threatened By Climate Change Loses In Court: In the wake of the Supreme Court’s seminal opinion on climate change last year, a federal appellate court in California has rejected a case against Exxon. Though it was a complicated ruling, the bottom-line is that claimants harmed by climate change will have to look to the government rather than the courts for help…
This provides context for what Adam calls his "passive-aggressive introduction:
Brad DeLong complained today that we at Modeled Behavior have fallen down on our writing on global warming, and that “I don’t expect to see those in Forbes any more than I expect to see Kaplan-bashing in Slate”. As proof that this is causal, he pointed out that our blogging on this subject has decreased since we moved to Forbes.
I did not say I had proof that it was causal: I said that I was patient, and would wait to see, but that in view of Forbes's status as a bad global warming neighborhood it did alarm me that the standard google search for "global warming" on Modeled Behavior's site produced 1590/2750 hits before they moved to Forbes and produced only 0/39--now 1/39--results since.
[O]ur kind and generous editors at Forbes have never placed any sort of censorship or editorial pressure on us…. It’s true that since we’ve been at Forbes I don’t think either of us have written about global warming. I can’t speak for Karl, but for me this is simply because there hasn’t been much policy movement around this topic, and because quite frankly I simply haven’t felt like it. I have a full time job and a dissertation to attend to so what little energy I have left for blogging is often constrained by my whim. Also of the 60 posts I’ve written since we’ve been here at Forbes, a bunch of them would have gotten us kicked out of here if they wanted their writers towing the conservative line.
But I’m always open to suggestions of what I should be blogging about more. I am, of course, more responsive to these suggestions when they don’t come paired with the implication that I’m compromised as a writer. Nevertheless, despite Brad’s previously criticizing me for believing it is worthwhile to persuade conservatives to embrace better policy, I will take Brad’s new advice and try to convince the readers of Forbes that a carbon tax is a good idea. After all, had he packaged his request less slanderously I’d have gladly written more posts on global warming. The only difference now is I’ve had to include this passive aggressive prelude…
Now on to Slate, and its forthcoming analyses of for-profit universities…