The Weekend Wonk: Potholer on the Conservative Solution to Climate Change

January 19, 2019

Two long vids from the legendary Aussie debunker.

Financial Times (paywalled):

The tragedy is that while the scientists and technologists have won the argument, the climate sceptics and deniers have effectively won the policy debate: we are doing far too little, far too late. It is now essential to transform the discussion from fear of what the carbon-transition will cost to hope for the opportunities it will bring. What is needed now are people and organisations — above all, politicians — able and willing to persuade humanity that a promised land of sustainable prosperity for all is within our collective reach.

Fox Business:

Former Federal Reserve chairs and nearly 30 Nobel Laureate economists have united in a bipartisan support for a carbon tax as way to address climate change.

Ben Bernanke (R), Alan Greenspan (R), Paul Volcker (D), and Janet Yellen (D), are among the 45 economists who signed a statement published in the Wall Street Journal that calls for “immediate national action” to combat climate change.

Wall Street Journal:

Global climate change is a serious problem calling for immediate national action. Guided by sound economic principles, we are united in the following policy recommendations.

I. A carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary. By correcting a well-known market failure, a carbon tax will send a powerful price signal that harnesses the invisible hand of the marketplace to steer economic actors towards a low-carbon future.

II. A carbon tax should increase every year until emissions reductions goals are met and be revenue neutral to avoid debates over the size of government. A consistently rising carbon price will encourage technological innovation and large-scale infrastructure development. It will also accelerate the diffusion of carbon-efficient goods and services.

III. A sufficiently robust and gradually rising carbon tax will replace the need for various carbon regulations that are less efficient. Substituting a price signal for cumbersome regulations will promote economic growth and provide the regulatory certainty companies need for long- term investment in clean-energy alternatives.

IV. To prevent carbon leakage and to protect U.S. competitiveness, a border carbon adjustment system should be established. This system would enhance the competitiveness of American firms that are more energy-efficient than their global competitors. It would also create an incentive for other nations to adopt similar carbon pricing.

V. To maximize the fairness and political viability of a rising carbon tax, all the revenue should be returned directly to U.S. citizens through equal lump-sum rebates. The majority of American families, including the most vulnerable, will benefit financially by receiving more in “carbon dividends” than they pay in increased energy prices.

George Akerlof, Robert Aumann, Angus Deaton, Peter Diamond, Robert Engle, Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen, Oliver Hart, Bengt Holmström, Daniel Kahneman, Finn Kydland, Robert Lucas, Eric Maskin, Daniel McFadden, Robert Merton, Roger Myerson, Edmund Phelps, Alvin Roth, Thomas Sargent, Myron Scholes, Amartya Sen, William Sharpe, Robert Shiller, Christopher Sims, Robert Solow, Michael Spence and Richard Thaler are recipients of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

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7 Responses to “The Weekend Wonk: Potholer on the Conservative Solution to Climate Change”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Better late than never. Now tell the people how URGENT climate action is, conservative media.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    An enjoyable hour spent watching Potholer’s two videos. He truly understands what it means to be “conservative”, and that the modern day modern day morons that give themselves that label are nothing more than water carriers for the greedy plutocrats and oligarchs (they who call themselves libertarians and pollute the meaning of that term as well).

    The Financial Times gets it too, with: “The tragedy is that while the scientists and technologists have won the argument, the climate sceptics and deniers have effectively won the policy debate: we are doing far too little, far too late”. (It’s also ironic that they would paywall—-their truth speaking is available only to those who will help them make a profit from it).

    PS It’s a shame that the first comment is, as is so often the case, from our resident “look at me” boy, Chucky—-the same tired and misleading graph he has posted so many times on Crock. Another “Fart In Church” moment that ruins an otherwise excellent post.

    PPS Take note of how long it takes Chucky to give this comment the “thumbs down” that he gives EVERY comment I make.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Checked back at 12:43, and the “thumbs down” is there—-usually doesn’t even take that long. Chucky is slow today (but note that he gave himself a “thumbs up” for his comment, and is probably chuckling like a 10 year old right now)

  3. J4Zonian Says:

    Any system that allows money to accumulate in limited places is incompatible with democracy, and ultimately, with any kind of freedom except the license of the rich to exploit and destroy at whim. A society like ours in which money and power are interchangeable commodities the inevitable endpoint is fascism.

    I’m so tired of people who understand the delusions of conservatism being called nuts as a defensive ad hominem by conservatives. The fact that here it’s by the otherwise excellent, reasonable and respected potholer is shocking and inexcusable. The fact that he makes many of the same mistakes he debunks in his videos is tragic.

    Motivated reasoning
    Refusing to admit there’s a problem because one doesn’t like the solutions is disturbed; with these stakes it’s insane. It gives us a really good idea of the mental stability and quality of thinking of the right, and to excuse or ignore it is nearly as out of touch with reality.

    video 1 7:50 Such a primitive view of ”rights” and ”freedom”.
    video 2 0:33 ”I came to the conclusion in my early 20s that a totally free society stripped of all government controls is guided by this basic principle, that everyone is free to do whatever he or she wants… as long as that doesn’t conflict with someone else’s freedom…”
    That’s a fundamental error of conservative feeling and thought. With no government controls, the powerful are free to do anything. Period. No principles, no check on abuse, no guiding anything, and a positive feedback loop that leads to oppression and dictatorship. This is pig-head-on-a-stick capitalism—the ideology stripped to its barest essentials.

    ”So protection of people’s environment, business and property is a basic conservative and libertarian principle.”
    No, clearly that contradicts potholer’s early-20s ”thesis”. This is a principle arrived at through nurturing families, exactly the opposite of those hierarchical, patriarchal, competitive families that capitalism spawns and is spawned by.

    video 1 13:40
    ”But all you need to do to alter that balance is to take tax breaks away from the coal and oil industries and switch the money to the renewable power industry.”
    Yeah, how’s that workin? We’re on the verge of global social, political, psychological and ecological collapse; if insist on being optimistic it’s a toss up whether civilization will survive, and the oligarchs aren’t giving an inch. They’re still blocking every avenue and solution including the one potholer is pushing here. Capitalism is not the ultimate cause, but it’s the proximate cause, and the problem will only be made worse trying to fix it with the same fundamentally wrong ideas caused by mental illness. Here’s how capitalism is STILL handling this dire crisis, a perfect illustration of what big corporations do with freedom: lie, cheat, steal, and betray.

    People who don’t get it, on display: https://climatecrocks.com/2019/01/20/how-serious-is-gm-about-evs/

    Car companies aren’t even trying to sell electric cars
    Manufacturers and dealers are putting more time and effort into selling gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs
    https://thinkprogress.org/car-companies-are-not-promoting-selling-electric-vehicles-854eb5ea496a/
    See also Tim Flannery on bromine, The Weathermakers p213-245 https://www.democracynow.org/2007/11/23/we_are_now_in_the_danger

  4. J4Zonian Says:

    Any system that allows money to accumulate in limited places is incompatible with democracy, and ultimately, with any kind of freedom except the license of the rich to exploit and destroy at whim. A society like ours in which money and power are interchangeable commodities the inevitable endpoint is fascism.

    I’m so tired of people who understand the delusions of conservatism being called nuts as a defensive ad hominem by conservatives. The fact that here it’s by the otherwise excellent, reasonable and respected potholer is shocking and inexcusable. The fact that he makes many of the same mistakes he debunks in his videos is tragic.

    Motivated reasoning
    Refusing to admit there’s a problem because one doesn’t like the solutions is insane. It gives us a really good idea of the mental stability and quality of thinking of the right, and to excuse or ignore it is nearly as out of touch with reality.

    video 1 7:50 Such a primitive view of ”rights” and ”freedom”.
    video 2 0:33 ”I came to the conclusion in my early 20s that a totally free society stripped of all government controls is guided by this basic principle, that everyone is free to do whatever he or she wants… as long as that doesn’t conflict with someone else’s freedom…”
    That’s a fundamental error of conservative feeling and thought. With no government controls, the powerful are free to do anything. Period. No principles, no check on abuse, no guiding anything. This is pig-head-on-a-stick capitalism—the ideology stripped to its barest essentials.

    ”So protection of people’s environment, business and property is a basic conservative and libertarian principle.”
    No, clearly that contradicts potholer’s early-20s ”thesis”. This is a principle arrived at through nurturing families, exactly the opposite of those hierarchical, patriarchal, competitive families that capitalism spawns and is spawned by.

    video 1 13:40
    ”But all you need to do to alter that balance is to take tax breaks away from the coal and oil industries and switch the money to the renewable power industry.”
    Yeah, how’s that workin? We’re on the verge of global social, poiitical, psychological and ecological collapse, it’s a toss up whether civilization will survive, and the oligarchs aren’t conceding an inch—blocking every avenue and solution including the one potholer is pushing here. Capitalism is not the ultimate cause, but it’s the proximate cause, and the problem will only be made worse trying to fix it with the same fundamentally wrong ideas. Here’s how capitalism is STILL handling this dire crisis, a perfect illustration of what big corporations do with freedom: lie, cheat, steal, and betray.

    People who don’t get it, on display: https://climatecrocks.com/2019/01/20/how-serious-is-gm-about-evs/

    Car companies aren’t even trying to sell electric cars
    Manufacturers and dealers are putting more time and effort into selling gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs
    Jan, 2019
    https://thinkprogress.org/car-companies-are-not-promoting-selling-electric-vehicles-854eb5ea496a/
    See also Tim Flannery on bromine, The Weathermakers p213-245 www[DOT]democracynow[DOT]org/2007/11/23/we_are_now_in_the_danger

    • J4Zonian Says:

      potholer goes on to make so many false assumptions and leap to wrong-headed conclusions that it’s more like a denying delayalist video badly in need of debunking by… potholer. I can’t even list all his ”mistakes”, let alone answer. A sample: ignores (essentially denying) the existence of externalities; ignores or accepts as good the suffering not just of ”losers” (created by the system) but of innocents; likewise ignores the destruction of nature that’s integral to the operation of capitalism and the Wetiko disease that drives it.

      v1 15:00, 20:30 seems to think the road not taken had no cause. Huh? Over and over ”mistakes” fossil fuel disinformation for ”American [sic] attitudes. Duh… Conservatism and capitalism caused this.

      ”as long as [the nukes] aren’t being run by Japanese companies”
      RU kidding me? Or Russian companies, or US companies. or British companies, or Iranian companies or probably Chinese companies.

      At the early stages of building a completely new system, people are giving power away OH NO! NO PROFIT! OMFG!
      So what? Demand response, grid tie-ins, etc. and batteries will take care of it. Stopping work on the only solutions to an existential threat to the planet because the rich aren’t profiting enough is utterly insane. He says that, in a wimpy way, and then goes on to blame ”America” [sic] again and defends capitalism. He does this over and over and over—takes the problems caused by capitalism and the conncentration of wealth and power in too small a group, an absolutely inevitable result of capitalism, and blames it on something or someone else.

      Text:
      They pull out all the right wing corporate duopoly sPawn of empire economists to say, hey we should trust the right wing corporate duopoly economics and try to do with a tax what can only done with a massive radical transformation of society. Ya really think Bernanke, Greenspan, Volcker et al trumpeted by the oligarchy’s organ WSJ are the answer to the problem they caused?

      The market religion has decreed that enormous amounts of money and power should be concentrated in the hands of people whose main talent is to exploit, accumulate, and outcompete. it’s a postivie feedback loop every bit as destructive as methane clathrates, tundra melting, or forest death.

      video 2 24:09 Straw person. No one is suggesting conservatives have to become leftists. I’m saying we need to remove the conservatives from power. They’ve been completely discredited by what’s happening in the world and their failure to understand or respond rationally to the ecological crisis their ideology has caused. Further suggests that because ”America [sic] is a capitalist country” it can’t ever be anything else—an argument as absurd as the ones he degunks.

      2 videos entitled ”The Conservative Solution to Climate Change” and there’s not a single thing in there that’s a solution to climate change. What a waste of a good therapeutic hour.

      ”Can price-based policies drive economy-wide energy transitions?
      History doesn’t seem to offer any examples. Large-scale energy transitions of the past have generally been driven by industrial policy and technology innovation; none have been driven by increases in the prices of existing energy sources.
      …”It has been proactive government, developing and diffusing technologies, sculpting markets through regulations and investments, that has sparked industrial shifts in the past.”
      https://www.vox.com/2016/4/22/11446232/price-on-carbon-fine

      There’s no time left for carbon prices, caps and trades, etc. The prices at which such bills don’t pass–because the right and the fossils oppose them–are in the neighborhood of $10 or $20 a ton. The price at which they start to make a significant difference is in the hundreds to thousands of dollars. Get it? How exactly is that going to work?
      https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/12/12/18090844/california-climate-cap-and-trade-jerry-brown

      Several things crucial to know about Republicans that clarify this debate:

      The current Republican party is insane, and corporate Democrats aren’t far behind. They’re out of touch with ecological reality and the effects of their policies, and consumed with fear and hatred of anything remotely leftish.
      Everything they say is a lie. Whether lying to themselves, others, or both, they can’t admit their agenda, which is to try to make up for infant and childhood issues of safety, agency, etc. by accumulating ever more money, power and control and expressing bottomless fear, rage, hatred, grief, and shame. Since past issues can’t be solved in the present without increasing consciousness, we’re dealing with an addiction. It can only be satisfied in psychotherapy, but those most in need are least likely to accept it. They can’t admit their sub agendas, either, whether climate, racism, or anything else.
      The carbon price debate is not about anything they’re saying it is. It’s about preserving fossil fuel profits and the egos and ideologies of those on the right, and denying not just climate reality but denying Democrats any progress on anything.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Slow down, Jeffy—-you’re exceeding the speed limit again and getting things all balled up. IMO, you attack potholer unfairly. Perhaps you suffer from some of that “motivated reasoning” or confirmation bias yourself? And that makes it hard to tell friends from enemies?


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