Elisabeth Rosenthal has written a strong piece in the NY Times. She wants to know why we aren’t in the mood to follow Joe Romm’s orders?
She applauds European progress in reducing its carbon emissions but she doesn’t present evidence concerning what is the global impact of having roughly 20% of the world’s economy reduce its emissions by 20%. If Europe reduces its carbon emissions to zero, will the Planet notice? She doesn’t discuss why their cost of reducing carbon is lower than ours (i.e less industry there, higher population density in their cities). She did not explore which segments of their population are paying higher prices because of carbon pricing (or are prices not rising because of leakage as more goods are imported to Europe from China and India?).
When Matthew Kotchen and I studied the issue of what explains interest in global warming using Google Searches, we concluded that the recession is the drag on public support. Greens need economic booms to consolidate moderate political support.
Michael Cragg and I have studied which members of Congress voted yes for Waxman/Markey. Wealthy, liberal, low carbon districts voted “Yes”. That sounds a lot like most of Europe!
I wrote my climate change adaptation book, Climatopolis, because I anticipated that the U.S Congress will not take costly action to unilaterally reduce our carbon emissions. I am on record for supporting $10 a gallon gas (read Climatopolis) but for the politically astute readers of RBC, how are we going to get there?
If the U.S doesn’t lead, how will global carbon emissions decline in a world where population and per-capita income is rising? You need to have an optimistic model of technological breakthrough and cheap diffusion.
Given that carbon emissions will rise, how will we adapt? What role will capitalism play in helping us to adapt? These are the “big questions” I tackle in Climatopolis.