A carbon tax makes no sense

For every policy initiative proposed by a government we the people have a right to know what is the best estimate of what it will cost us, and what is the best estimate of what it will benefit us. And this applies also to the proposed carbon tax.

I know many people of a green inclination hate Andrew Bolt and Lord Monckton. So the motivation to correct any error in the answer Monckton gave to Bolt on this matter should be quite high.

Bolt: On our own, cutting our emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, what will that lower the world’s temperatures by?

Monckton: So the warming forestalled by cutting Australia’s emissions would be 57% of 4.7 times the logarithm of 0.99997998: that is – wait for it, wait for it – a dizzying 0.00005 Celsius, or around one-twenty-thousandth of a Celsius degree. Your estimate of a thousandth of a degree was a 20-fold exaggeration – not that Flannery was ever going to tell you that, of course.

A cautionary note: the warming forestalled will only be this big if the IPCC’s central estimate of the rate at which adding CO2 to the atmosphere causes warming is correct. However, it’s at least a twofold exaggeration and probably more like fourfold. So divide both the above answers by, say, 3 to get what will still probably be an overestimate of the warming forestalled.

He also does the calculation for the whole world cutting emissions by this amount and concludes that the difference in temperature will be “four one-thousandths of a Celsius degree“.

On the face of it the answer seems better than the one that Tim Flannery gave to the same question asked again by Andrew Bolt in an interview the other day.

Flannery: Look, it will be a very, very small increment.

The extended version of both answers are on Bolts blog. Lord Monckton’s full answer includes the math and reasoning.

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/

And the actual recorded interview with Tim Flannery here:-

http://www.mtr1377.com.au/index2.php?option=com_newsmanager&task=view&id=8274

Of course whilst the benefit of a carbon tax is immeasurably small I’ll also concede that the cost of a carbon tax is pretty modest. There are in my view two obvious counter points to the Bolt question and answers.

Counter Point 1 – Bolt is asking the wrong question. We should be interested in what happens by 2100 or some other date further into the future.

Counter Point 2 – This cut to emissions is only the first step. We will innovate in response to the tax or else we will take other measures such as increasing the tax to further reduce emissions.

Both of these counter points are in my view fair enough. However properly framed any such alternative scenarios should also be able to yield numbers regarding estimated cost and benefit. I have difficulty envisaging a CO2 mitigation policy based on a carbon tax that makes much sense. I think the case for any ETS is even worse.

Maybe climate change is one of those problems that should be accommodated not solved. Chris Berg thinks so:-

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/climate-change-cant-be-stopped-but-we-will-adapt-20110326-1cazx.html

11 thoughts on “A carbon tax makes no sense

  1. I heard on the radio, ABC, that some study has found that contrails behind jets cause more damage than carbon! If so, you can be sure that the pollies won’t let this get in the way of a new tax!

  2. Perhaps they were reading something to do with this Nuke. 🙂

    The HAARP conspiracy is related to this and its a beauty, threatening all things to all people. I noticed a warning today that it is possible that the Kiwis and the Japanese will retaliate against the Yanks over the latest earthquakes by harnessing their own systems to cause a massive eruption in Yellowstone.

    All of this is reportedly the work of the Illuminati, a small secret group that few are aware of despite the 17.5 million hits it generates. Admittedly I was unable to fimd their homepage. 🙂

  3. The best conspiracy theory I’ve read says that the government puts out all these conspiracy theories, so that we’ll believe that someone, somewhere, knows exactly what is going on! The government would rather you believed that some conspiracy is responsible, than realise that no-one is in control, not even the government! How would you get to sleep at night if you realised that you live in a random, uncontrolled, universe!? (See, the Government DOES care about you!)

  4. Actually Nuke, Douglas Adams nailed it here:

    “You know”, said Arthur thoughtfully, “all of this explains a lot of things. All through my life I have had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, something sinister, and no one would tell me what it was”.

    “No,” said the old man, “that’s just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the universe has that.”

  5. Just at present I can’t get your link to load, (overdone it this month and down to snail pace.) I did however do a little digging and found the homepage. What the secrecy seems to be about is that they are libertarians.

  6. sir i will sale my kidney very sure.30,00,000 lakhs in indian currency.i have need money most urgent in family problem.so pls help me my blood group O+ve and my contact number 91+9042830858 my email:angu.anguraj75@gmail.com
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  7. You know your libertarianism is getting a bit extreme when you get spam after spam from people trying to sell their kidneys to you!

  8. I doubt that I would go so far as to say it is a reflection on libertarianism. We have in the past had a post on organ sale and perhaps draws them to the site.

    It wouldn’t hurt though for the authors or administrators to delete them.

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