Jenkins on climate hysteria

Holman Jenkins, over at the WSJ, has some thoughts on the CNN climate show.

 CNN’s seven-hour climate town hall with the Democratic presidential candidates was the ratings bomb you expected, and no wonder since there was little debate.

It gets better from there.

There is much else going on, in which journalists are but lockstep automatons. And here it is: With their decision to resort to a strategy of hysterical exaggerations, vilifications and hackneyed partisanship, the greens have now succeeded in convincing voting publics that any climate strategy must be catastrophic to their lifestyles, transferring trillions from their pockets to green special interests.

Worse, voters are right. Many climate campaigners are more interested in social revolution than in climate science. Some are more interested in expressing their craving for humanity’s death and engaging in apocalyptic playacting than in improving the human condition.

That’s about right.

Here is where I disagree, somewhat, with Jenkins.

A carbon tax would hardly be prohibitive. Weitzman advocated $40 a ton—the equivalent of 36 cents per gallon of gasoline. Such a tax could be implemented without raising the overall tax burden; it could be used to trim taxes on work, saving and investment, improving the economy overall. It could be embraced and copied by other nations out of self-interest rather than self-abnegation (unlike the absurd Green New Deal).

How did such a modest and potentially beneficial adjustment to the tax code become virtually undiscussable?

Simple answer: because that is not what actually gets implemented. When the carbon tax was implemented in Australia, for example, the revenue was used to expand the welfare state – not reduce the tax burden. Worse – income tax rates to lower income individuals were increased.

Now there is an argument to having a carbon tax where that tax is considered as part of the overall tax system. Then we would have to consider the dead weight losses associated with a carbon tax and the dead weight losses associated with the taxes that it replaces. This would involve an honest debate and evaluation of the technical merits and demerits of a carbon tax.  I have zero confidence given on what we have seen to date that such a debate could or would be possible.

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43 Responses to Jenkins on climate hysteria

  1. stackja

    A Carbon tax means Leftists have more money to waste.

  2. FelixKruell

    Now there is an argument to having a carbon tax where that tax is considered as part of the overall tax system. Then we would have to consider the dead weight losses associated with a carbon tax and the dead weight losses associated with the taxes that it replaces. This would involve an honest debate and evaluation of the technical merits and demerits of a carbon tax. I have zero confidence given on what we have seen to date that such a debate could or would be possible.

    Which means the best party to introduce such a carbon tax as part of proper tax reform is the Coalition. Sadly, at some point, the ALP will once again win power federally, and implement a carbon tax that expands the welfare state etc.

  3. Botswana O'Hooligan

    Years ago when a carbon tax was on every politicians and environmentalist lips a bunch of we reasonably intelligent peasants having the odd beer had tears of laughter running down our legs at the thought of placing a tax on something invisible. How wrong we were.

  4. C.L.

    Jenkins is being a bit of a Romneyite pansy.
    There is no argument for a carbon dioxide tax because there is no climate emergency.
    It’s a hoax.

    Many climate campaigners are more interested in social revolution than in climate science. Some are more interested in expressing their craving for humanity’s death and engaging in apocalyptic playacting than in improving the human condition.

    Not “many” and “some.” All.

  5. The very way to avoid high carbon emissions is to use fracking on unconventional shales and coal resources. the US is the only leading economy to lower emissions by following this approach. As they are successful their unit energy costs are much lower than their competitors and cleaner. And the Democrats want to can a most successful revolution. Nutters the lot of them.

  6. That’s the shot, advocate for a tax to fix a non-problem. Great way to run an economy.

    A carbon tax would hardly be prohibitive. Weitzman advocated $40 a ton—the equivalent of 36 cents per gallon of gasoline.

    What’s the point? A barrel of oil was double today’s price not that long ago, yet we still drove our cars, we still bought SUV’s in record numbers and we didn’t rush to public transport.
    What’s the point of a tax that’s not going to change behaviour?

    In any case, I don’t know of a single human being who emits CARBON. We emit Carbon Dioxide, NOT THE SAME THING, not even close.
    When someone uses that term (looking at you Sinc and Ian MacCulloch) I know that they are either grossly ignorant or part of the hoax. Which is it?

    If this is about “The Science” as told by 97% of them (and a very complicated science at that) then accuracy in description is important.
    But it’s not about the science is it? It’s about narratives and misdirections. It’s about conning people.
    Calling the very basis of life “pollution” and “poison” is not science. But don’t take my word for it, listen to the very people pushing this hoax….

    It’s about the money, and power, not the climate. According to a press release from the United Nations Regional Information Center, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said that “the fight against climate change is a process and that the necessary transformation of the world economy will not be decided at one conference or in one agreement.”

    Figueres went on to say, “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history….This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution.”

    That “economic development system” Figueres talks about is capitalism. The UN is attempting to transform that to global socialism governed by the United Nations.

    https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2015/03/06/top-un-official-admits-climate-change-is-about-transforming-world-economy/

    We are not emitting Carbon.
    We are not changing the climate of the planet.
    There will not be ANY of the scary catastrophies spun by the hoaxers.
    The poles are fine.
    Sea levels will be much the same for hundreds of years yet.
    Oceans are not acidifying.
    The planet is fine, the people are fucked.

  7. RobK

    There are royalties paid on fossil and nuclear fuels. There is excise applied to many uses of fuels. There is GST on many end uses. Non-fuel CO2, such as cement manufacturing, agriculture etc will show little CO2 amelioration for the effort expended, even with an extra tax.

  8. RobK

    That “economic development system” Figueres talks about is capitalism.
    IIRC, Figueres went on to say she favoured a system of government modelled on that of China.

  9. Terry

    “The planet is fine, the people are fucked.”

    Thank you Mr Carlin.

  10. Terry

    “Figueres went on to say she favoured a system of government modelled on that of China.

    Yes, right up until she discovers she’s on the outside of the APC.

    Why do Socialists always imagine themselves holding the gun and never believe it will be them lined up against the wall?

  11. Mother Lode

    That’s the shot, advocate for a tax to fix a non-problem. Great way to run an economy.

    Burt the extra revenue raised could be used to give pay increases to public servants.

    The RBA tells us that is the way to stimulate the economy.

  12. A carbon tax would hardly be prohibitive. Weitzman advocated $40 a ton—the equivalent of 36 cents per gallon of gasoline. Such a tax could be implemented without raising the overall tax burden; it could be used to trim taxes on work, saving and investment, improving the economy overall.

    Wrong.
    Any tax on energy is a brake on growth and no amount of fancy, glitter coating is going to make this turd shine.

  13. Rex Mango

    This morning on ABC RN some expert explained that like a quarter of greenhouse emissions result from agriculture. Has anyone else noticed that they are quietly shifting the goal posts in the climate change argument, from trying to rectify what the evil Industrial Revolution did, to addressing agricultural issues like bovine methane. Now their beef goes back to the Agrarian Revolution of the Seventeenth Century. Perhaps we should return to strip farming.

  14. Percy Popinjay

    Now there is an argument to having a carbon tax where that tax is considered as part of the overall tax system

    No, there is not. Apart from the infuriating misnomer, to advocate for a “carbon” tax is to accept the utterly discredited hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive catastrophic increases in global temperatures. After three decades of this hysterical horseshit there is zero evidence of any “climate crisis” and you’d have to be an illiterate innumerate anti-scientific ahistorical imbecile to believe that there was.

    Catastrophic human induced climate change was only ever another pretext for attempting to impose communism on an unwitting and unwilling populous.

  15. Beachcomber

    ……….. to advocate for a “carbon” tax is to accept the utterly discredited hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive catastrophic increases in global temperatures.

    And it also accepts the totalitarian notion that there is no limit on what a government can tax. If they can force businesses (and eventually it will extend to individuals) to calculate their CO2 emissions and then pay a tax on those emissions, they can tax anything, even breathing.

  16. egg_

    CNN’s seven-hour climate town hall with the Democratic presidential candidates was the ratings bomb you expected, and no wonder since there was little debate.

    Sounds like Their Q&A, comra…

  17. egg_

    Now there is an argument to having a carbon tax where that tax is considered as part of the overall tax system

    What about the rest of the atmosphere – why stop at CO2?
    #Lame

  18. egg_

    Has anyone else noticed that they are quietly shifting the goal posts in the climate change argument, from trying to rectify what the evil Industrial Revolution did, to addressing agricultural issues

    Softer target?
    Sh1tting on farmers copping the white elephant windfarms.

  19. RobK

    Burning fossil fuels is mankind’s contribution to redistributing the molecules of life more equitably over the planet for an invigorated, diverse and sustainable ecology. #greening the planet by degrees.

  20. Ubique

    To what extent did Labor’s carbon tax (or the untold billions spent on renewables) modify the climate or affect sea levels?

    Discuss.

  21. Entropy

    They are bringing farmers into the mix because the want to get rid of the cows and replace them with trading carbon credits. And also they hate farmers.

    You know, in the same way displaced Tassie or Revenshoe timber workers were to become green tour guides and baristas, so too farmers can make a motza from the new gold rush of carbon credits. Real soon now.

    These fools believe that Australia’s savannah plains will become competitive in a carbon trading environment with our Nigerian internet pals. Or anyone who can grow real trees for that matter. At least we will have an army of compliance auditors regularly staying in regional hotels to help the local economies. Until they get senior enough for overseas verification junkets. They will be some of the vast army of environmental “studies” graduates of course, who haven’t been able to get jobs to date outside water treatment facilities.

  22. Anthony

    This morning on ABC RN some expert explained that like a quarter of greenhouse emissions result from agriculture. Has anyone else noticed that they are quietly shifting the goal posts in the climate change argument, from trying to rectify what the evil Industrial Revolution did, to addressing agricultural issues like bovine methane. Now their beef goes back to the Agrarian Revolution of the Seventeenth Century. Perhaps we should return to strip farming.

    A big chunk of Australia/New Zealand agricultural methane is probably going to disappear pretty soon. Giving cows/sheep seaweed (CSIRO Future Feed) could eliminate 90-99% of cow methane. The seaweed inhibits bacteria in the ruminant gut consuming the feed and turning it into methane. So, the cows/sheep also grow bigger.

    In other words, we are soon likely to get less agricultural methane (maybe 10-15% of Australia’s total GHGs) and bigger animals in our herds. So, yay for technology.

  23. RobK

    Giving cows/sheep seaweed (CSIRO Future Feed) could eliminate 90-99% of cow methane.
    Sushi eaters don’t fart?

  24. Perth Trader

    Dont get ahead of yourselves . Climate Change is so ingrained into the populations mind , the clock cant be turned back. Any politician or business leader who argues against climate change will be looking for a new job . Ya’ll just have to get used to paying a premium for living , anywhere for that matter.

  25. old bloke

    Percy Popinjay
    #3151212, posted on September 9, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    After three decades of this hysterical horseshit there is zero evidence of any “climate crisis” and you’d have to be an illiterate innumerate anti-scientific ahistorical imbecile to believe that there was.

    + 1000

    Liberty quote right there.

  26. Entropy

    Perth Trader
    #3151259, posted on September 9, 2019 at 2:57 pm
    Dont get ahead of yourselves . Climate Change is so ingrained into the populations mind , the clock cant be turned back. Any politician or business leader who argues against climate change will be looking for a new job . Ya’ll just have to get used to paying a premium for living , anywhere for that matter

    I think the average person in the street does not understand how thoroughly and completely inculcated AGW policy is in every policy and activity eagerly worked at by policy boffins, regardless of relevance. I would not be surprised if most governments have a climate change impact statement required for every cabinet document. You must genuflect at the holy altar or you will be asked to leave the room. Theocracies have nothing on these zealots.

  27. Boambee John

    Percy

    zero evidence of any “climate crisis” and you’d have to be an illiterate innumerate anti-scientific ahistorical imbecile to believe that there was.

    You exaggerate their intelligence.

  28. egg_

    Dont get ahead of yourselves . Climate Change is so ingrained into the populations mind , the clock cant be turned back. Any politician or business leader who argues against climate change will be looking for a new job . Ya’ll just have to get used to paying a premium for living , anywhere for that matter.

    Not so at the ballot box – BoN keeps tabs on the political scalps it’s cost, not unlike ‘Go woke, go broke’ in business.

  29. egg_

    What about the rest of the atmosphere – why stop at CO2?

    Climateers Mk.I, Their UN Ozone Secretariat, is still after refrigerants, the latest iteration being the banning of HCFCs.
    So, more and more less efficient refrigerants, but Green zealots hate air conditioning, even if it is the most efficient heating.

  30. Dr Fred Lenin

    A tax on a non existing threat ,thats ok , how about a Tax on an existing real threat ,the lies politicians tell to keep their tiny miserable “careers “ , this tax to be paid out of their own money ? A total freeze on politicians and public swrvant salaries and allowances . This tax would raise over a squiillion dollars a year ,even allowing for the bankruptcy court proceedings many of the miscreants would create .

  31. John A

    egg_ #3151222, posted on September 9, 2019, at 1:17 pm

    Now there is an argument to having a carbon tax where that tax is considered as part of the overall tax system

    What about the rest of the atmosphere – why stop at CO2?
    #Lame

    Stop! Stop! You are merely giving the finks more ideas.

  32. egg_

    Hasn’t Lovelock basically recanted/disowned the Ozone hysteria, yet the good ol’ UN Secretariat marches on.

  33. David Brewer

    I think the average person in the street does not understand how thoroughly and completely inculcated AGW policy is in every policy and activity eagerly worked at by policy boffins, regardless of relevance.

    Correct, and it’s why a carbon tax won’t work. If you believed in AGW, a carbon tax and only a carbon tax is the best policy, since it lets the market find the lowest-cost ways of reducing emissions.

    But AGW is a social obsession. It has to be built in to every policy and activity. So you would not be able to drop any of the myriad AGW boondoggles already in place – renewables mandates, feed-in solar tariffs, land-use restrictions and all the rest of them. Most of these make negligible emission reductions at huge costs. But they would all stay in place ON TOP of a carbon tax, vitiating its theoretical efficiency. This already happened under the Gillard regime.

  34. Anthony
    #3151249, posted on September 9, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    In other words, we are soon likely to get less agricultural methane (maybe 10-15% of Australia’s total GHGs) and bigger animals in our herds. So, yay for technology.

    Ignorant effwits.

    Methane is CH4
    When it hits the air, it combines with 2O2 to form CO2 and 2H2O.
    Both CO2 and H2O are life lines for the vegetation that these cows and other herbivores consume.
    It’s the life cycle set after billions of years.
    These morons will create vast wastelands frigging around with the natural order of things.

  35. I_am_not_a_robot

    When and if the IPCC resolves its manifest struggles over climate sensitivity (i.e., how much warming can be expected), the result will necessarily be to reduce uncertainty regarding the great chemistry experiment in the atmosphere … (Holman Jenkins).

    It’s not an experiment in the sense of exploring uncharted territory, the current atmospheric CO2 concentration (410ppm) is historically low in geological time as William Happer tried to explain to no avail to Barbara boxer — crocodiles in Wyoming notwithstanding:

  36. Squirrel

    “Simple answer: because that is not what actually gets implemented. When the carbon tax was implemented in Australia, for example, the revenue was used to expand the welfare state – not reduce the tax burden. Worse – income tax rates to lower income individuals were increased.”

    Precisely – given the chance, the big government crowd will always take opportunities like this to rig the system as they see fit. It would just be another shell game, but they’d tell themselves it was visionary reform.

    The current bush fires in Qld and NSW are a reminder that the focus should be on dealing with whatever is happening with the climate (regardless of “cause”), rather than pretending to privileged twits that more solar panels and wind farms will stop the droughts and the heatwaves.

  37. cohenite

    The abc, before it became it became completely insane posted an article detailing the utter devastation a carbon tax would inflict on Australia; fat chance of getting this published today:

    Apart from overseas experience showing a carbon tax and subsidisation of green energy costs jobs the results also show shrinkage in GDP; Spain’s economy actually contracted during the period which green energy was subsidised. This should be no surprise to Combet because in 2009 the then NSW Labour government commissioned Frontier Modelling to analyse the effect the 5% ETS proposed by the then Rudd government would have on the Australian GDP. The modelling showed a $2 trillion reduction in the Australian economy directly linked to the effect of the ETS by 2050; that’s $50 billion per annum; enough to pay for the NBN.

    The shrinkage occurs because green energy is both far more expensive than conventional energy and does not meet the society’s needs. California is the classic example of this. California’s sweet ride with green energy began in 1973-4 with the first oil shock; this experiment gained momentum in the 1980s when the US government offered big tax breaks for wind power. After 40 years of massive investment and cutting edge technology in wind and solar California today obtains only 2.4% and 0.4% from those 2 sources. As for moral leadership, despite banning coal mining California still receives nearly 10% of its power from coal, all imported. California’s dominant energy source is gas.

    Apart from a Treasury release saying that a $30 per tonne carbon tax will add $860 per household there have been no economic modelling to support its cheery predictions about a carbon tax. The overseas examples listed above prove they won’t eventuate.

    That proof that a carbon tax represents a massive shift towards big government lies in the already available details in the government’s National Greenhouse Emissions Reporting website [NGER].

    NGER lists all the corporations currently obligated to report their emissions of CO2; this obligation is based on a threshold which only catches the largest of businesses; this threshold will be lowered or non-existent with the advent of a carbon tax after the Greens gain power on the 1st July 2011, so the total revenue collectable from a carbon tax will be much larger the NGER indicates at present.

    But that’s not all. The NGER structures the carbon tax as a DOUBLE tax applying both to the production of energy [Scope 1] and the use of that energy [Scope 2].

    The figures are staggering. Scope 1 emissions are just under 341 million tonnes. Because the use in Scope 2 will approximate the emissions from Scope 1 another 341 million tonnes can be added for a total of 682 million tonnes of emissions. The Greens preferred CO2 tax rate is $45 per tonne; at that rate the carbon tax will extract $15 billion from the Australian economy per year. And that’s before agriculture and petrol are slugged.

    Julia Gillard and Greg Combet are saying somewhere between 50% and 100% of the money will be returned to consumers but that is qualified by saying that only the most needy will be looked after. There are about 7.5 million residential household accounts for electricity in Australia, but obviously only about one quarter, or 2 million of those are needy if pension and low income thresholds are applied. If the government allocates half of the revenue or $7.5 billion to those 2 million households that will be $3,750 per household, well above the Treasury estimate of what it will cost the average household at $30 per tonne. Even if another $15 is added to the carbon tax price that will, according to Treasury, only cost the average household $1,290 [$860 + $430].

    But this doesn’t take into account two crucial and proven consequences of the carbon tax. The first is GDP shrinkage estimated to be $50 billion per year; that will cost the average household 3 times what the direct effect of the carbon tax will, adding another $3,870 to the average household. With the $1,290 added on that now comes to $5,160. If the government gives all the collected revenue to the bottom 2 million households that will be $7,500 per household so those households will be better off. The other 5.5 million households will of course be out of pocket by $5,160…

  38. Dapper Happer

    The renewables supporters can point to impressive headline performances of these new solar panels. But they don’t seem to understand how renewables degrade the grid. We have to change our bidding system somehow. We need to get a whole new generation of “ultra-super-critical coal plants” ahead of liquid metal batteries and molten salt nuclear.

    If we have enough liquid metal batteries we can accommodate the renewables. But right now we need to fix up our grid. So the renewables have come in on this wave but the wave has got to roll back for awhile. So that a second wave can come, but when we are ready for it. We weren’t ready for the renewables the first time around.

  39. Perth Trader

    EGG…sorry. I think you miss my point. Climate Change and Carbon Tax are 2 different things to the population. They will put solar panels on roofs , and buy new electric cars ….but have no clue that these are subsidize by a TAX , and will vote against said tax. People believe in climate change but wont pay a extra fee on a airline ticket to offset there carbon emissions. The general population see no connection to higher elect. prices and renewable energy. So, if they dont get that connection arguing the science is a waste of time.

  40. cohenite

    It’s not an experiment in the sense of exploring uncharted territory, the current atmospheric CO2 concentration (410ppm) is historically low in geological time as William Happer tried to explain to no avail to Barbara boxer — crocodiles in Wyoming notwithstanding

    Boxer is a fucking moron; and chris field a deadshit.

  41. When and if the IPCC resolves its manifest struggles over climate sensitivity (i.e., how much warming can be expected), the result will necessarily be to reduce uncertainty regarding the great chemistry experiment in the atmosphere … (Holman Jenkins).

    The Climate Sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is…….ZERO.
    This is an established water planet. So long as there is water, CO2 is absolutely and totally irrelevant to temperature (save for the nice shady areas created by the greening caused by CO2).

    Factoid: The very first refrigerators used CO2 as the refrigerant before the more efficient and effective CFC’s were developed.

  42. Pyrmonter

    @ Sinc

    I have sadly to sympathize with your conclusion, having sought to suggest just such a reform in this forum (and in particular, that the proceeds of a CO2 tax should be used to fund reductions in upper marginal income tax rates), to be derided as a ‘warmist’ and worse.

    If you accept (and most voters do) that there are going to be ‘climate change polices’, it makes sense for them to be ones that are least costly in pursuit of the goal of net CO2 output reduction. The orthodox policy approach across the advanced economies, at least since at least the 1970s, would be to recommend harnessing the distributed information implicit in markets to do so. That is about the only thing that hasn’t happened, anywhere. Why? Well, there are many on the Left who are arguing dishonestly – they simply cannot believe what they write. Sadly though, they’ve had their counterparts among those who think it appropriate to shirk in response to a classical tragedy of the commons.

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