Posted by: bridget | 6 July 2007

Global Warming, ET, and other Modern Myths

An op-ed in the New York Times advocates for a cap-and-trade system of carbon emissions.  Even if we assume that global warming is due to carbon emissions and not solar activity, and, at that, carbon emissions should be reduced, a government-imposed monopoly is not the correct solution.  First of all, this assumes that the government is able to correctly determine how much carbon is acceptable; and, to get that information, presumably it would need to know how each ton of carbon dioxide influences the climate and what the ideal climate for Earth actually is.  This involves a ridiculous amount of speculation.  More than that, it is a dead-weight cost on industry.

The approach preferred by influential senators — including Joseph Lieberman, John Warner and Jeff Bingaman — as well as many businesses and environmental groups, is to develop a cap-and-trade system. The government would impose a cap on the overall amount of carbon that could be emitted and at the same time allow regulated firms, like utilities and oil refiners, to buy and sell the right to those limited emissions. Firms that could easily reduce their emissions could sell their allowances to firms that could not.

A firm that pollutes now, with little done to curb emissions, can make money through this scheme as it reduces its emissions and sells its extra carbon credits.  If the government-imposed cap is less than the current emissions (which it would have to be, to make any sense), then companies that currently run clean operations would either be required to purchase expensive credits, or will have to reduce operations to reduce their emissions.  Either way, those who do absolutely nothing now to reduce their emissions would benefit, while those companies that have long run green operations will be punished.

Moreover, new companies would be at a strong disadvantage.  They would be required to purchase the right to compete in the market from their competitors (unless the government grants them carbon credits as well, which would render the entire system pointless, as there would be no true “cap” on emissions).  Anyone else feel like they just landed in “Atlas Shrugged?”

The National Science Foundation has requested more funds to studyweird life,” i.e. life forms that are not based on carbon or do not need water in order to survive.  While the pachyderm applauds efforts to increase our understanding of the universe (and thinks that silicon-based life outside of Hollywood is pretty cool), she wonders why the government is being asked to sponsor this research.   If it is purely  intellectual, it should be the province of universities; if it has commercial interest, surely these eminent scientists can find a venture capitalist willing to sponsor them.

Plaintiff’s lawyers, the darlings of the Left, went through opening statements in a trial intended to link autism with vaccines.  The government set up a fund to compensate those who are harmed by vaccines (such is only logical, as the government mandates them; however, it is also ridiculous for the government to remove some of the cost of doing business from a particular industry).   The theory is that thimerosal, a vaccine additive which contains mercury, may damage children’s immune systems or minds.

Thimerosal was almost entirely removed from pediatric vaccines in 2001 after some government scientists expressed concern about the amount of mercury that children who got routine vaccinations would be exposed to. Since then, autism rates in the United States have shown no signs of dropping.

That would seem to indicate that thimerosal does not cause autism – in fact, there is not even a correlation between thimerosal use and autism.   This is reminiscent of John Edwards’s cerebral palsy theories.

Of course, when conservative decry the vaccine movement, it is because we want to punish sexually active young women with cancer, not because we happen to think that parents are best able to determine if this is in the best interests of their child’s health.

Proving that the free market works, Burger King has voluntarily eliminated trans fats from its cooking oils.

In tests, consumers determined that more than a dozen items cooked in the new oil, such as french [sic] fries and hash browns, tasted the same or better than products cooked in the trans-fat oil, the company said…. Among Burger King’s main competitors, McDonald’s Corp. said earlier this year it had selected a new trans-fat-free oil. Wendy’s International Inc. started using cooking oil with zero grams of trans fat in August 2006.

Burger King will make the switch by the end of 2007 if it can find an adequate supply of trans-fat free oil.  (Naturally, there is a lag time in market response: the other option would be to cease making French fries until BK can find a supplier.)  All this – without government fiat!  Maybe the pachyderm was right.


  1. A good follow up post would be on the failure of European countries to make significant dents in emissions despite such measures. (aka, I’m too lazy to do the research)

  2. A good follow-up post would address the failure of such policies in Europe to put a dent in emissions. (aka, I’m too lazy to do the research)

  3. Sigh… fine, delegate work before the semester even begins. ;)

    Drop an email if I forget. Would love to add some empirical research into all of this.

  4. Semester begins? Are you back in law school?

  5. Not yet, but that has not stopped Mr. Autry from saddling me with blogger duties. :)

    Yeah, I leave Cali in six weeks. Serious denial from this end.

  6. Picking up where you left off? 3rd year right?

    If I could go back and do it again I would have taken that offer to join law review seriously. What a slacker I was.

  7. Yeah, I’ll be a 3L who is really a 4L, sort of. ;)

    I wasn’t a slacker. Unfortunately – I would have had more fun and wound up in the same place.

  8. “I wasn’t a slacker. Unfortunately – I would have had more fun and wound up in the same place.”

    I had lots of fun. I think during my 2L year I put more time into playing Grand Theft Auto III than studying. Which should have embarrassed the 91% of my 2L class who still did worse than me G.P.A. wise. Heck, it embarrasses me, but in a way that allows me to still laugh about it.

  9. Normally I like free market solutions, but the carbon credit thing sounds like a hopelessly complicated, counterproductive, government-expanding burden.

    Good for BK! I love it when change happens due to the market, not gov’t.

  10. Is it really part of the free market when the government decides the “cap” of emissions and then doles out that right? It’s not a natural restriction (such as, say, land), nor is it a cost imposed that is proportional to the costs generated by the activity (i.e. taxing activity that is expensive to clean up).

  11. You know, you are right – I’m so used to gov’t intervention that it sounded like a free market idea (the part about buying and selling credits suckered me in!).

  12. LOL! I can only imagine. Kind of like buying and selling the right to free speech.

  13. Want to vomit in your mouth a bit? Then read this…

    Makes me sick to think of these crops leading us down the path of even more regulation.

  14. Bridget,

    Speaking of GW. I updated my GW Live Earth post to include statements by RFK Jr. at the US leg of the event. Did you catch it.

    “This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors.”

    He said this about politicians and others that refuse to accept the Left’s GW orthodoxy, so he must have been talking about you too. So keep your head down they want to treat you like a traitor (hmm……what, firing squad). As I stated over a NSL I knew they were into Mind Control, but I guess it has digressed to Mein Kamph……….steve

  15. TT,

    Thanks for the link. :)


    Wow. Ya know, when I was reading up on some death penalty stuff, I saw that firing squads are still available in some states. I would take that over the chamber or lethal injection: please make it clear that liberals are forcing their psychotic ideas upon us at the end of a gun.

    By 2020, we’ll have global cooling. One of two things will happen:
    1) mass hysteria about global cooling and how all the species will die; or
    2) it will be used as evidence that the carbon-reduction programmes of today are beneficial.

  16. […] cause psychiatric disorders (here).  Arguably, there is a link between the MMR vaccine and autism (note, however, that thimerosal has not been used in vaccines since 2001).  Likewise, some people theorise that the rise in peanut allergies is caused by vaccines: when […]

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