Tag Archives: ethanol

Global Warming: How should we approach the subject?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but recently I’ve been writing a fair amount about a variety of issues. So hopefully these next several posts are thought provoking. I would greatly appreciate any feedback or thoughts you may have about the arguments and/or writing style of my posts. That being said, here are my thoughts on global warming:

I see four issues that need to be addressed before we can adequately approach the problem:

1. The first point we must establish is: Is the Earth really warming at a significant pace? I’m skeptical but open to convincing that this is the case.

2. The second point: Is this warming caused by humans or is it natural? I know less about this point, but there are many intelligent people who think this is a natural phenomena — a cycle the earth goes through.

3. The third point: Are the effects of global warming harmful? Now I want to clarify here. I’m referring to the temperature increase alone. Obviously smog, carbon monoxide, wanton destruction of forests, etc. are bad. But is the temperature of the earth rising a bad thing? I’m not sure, no one really knows. Maybe it will be a good thing. Growing seasons might be longer, and right now many more people die of cold every year than of heat. Again, just some thoughts, I don’t think a compelling case has been made for either side.

4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is it worth spending trillions of dollars to try and fix? People talk about market solutions like a carbon tax and so forth. Those are NOT market solutions. They are government solutions that allow for better individualized actions that are like a market. But how does a government know what the right level to set the tax at is? Who is deciding the carbon tax but politicians who are more beholden to special interests than voters. Furthermore, carbon taxes will create huge inefficiencies in the market. It will make everything that needs energy to be produced (which, by the way, is everything) more expensive. I think one commentator put it well when he said we are sacrificing the poor of the world on the altar of radical environmentalism. Sure we are wealthy here in the US and can afford some of these inefficient policies. But as we have seen with ethanol subsidies, our domestic policies affect the rest of the world, especially poorer countries.

Our best approach to solving this problem is to better define property rights and environmental regulations at a local, rather than national or global level. Cities and states should work to clean up rivers and emissions, based on clear demonstration of harm caused by the pollution to individuals, not some abstract and highly questionable global warming effects. As human beings one thing is certain, that no matter what happens, we will learn to adapt and improve our environment, whatever it is. Wealth is a key tool by which we will be able to face rising global temperatures, hurricanes, tornadoes, war, famine, etc.