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Building a Green Economy
April 9, 2010 4:24 AM   Subscribe

Building a Green Economy, Paul Krugman on the economics of Climate change.
posted by afu (10 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's an interesting analysis of what could and should be done about a green economy. Unfortunately, the reasons why it won't be were more succinctly laid out by Krugman in one of his colums last year.

But the larger reason we’re ignoring climate change is that Al Gore was right: This truth is just too inconvenient. Responding to climate change with the vigor that the threat deserves would not, contrary to legend, be devastating for the economy as a whole. But it would shuffle the economic deck, hurting some powerful vested interests even as it created new economic opportunities. And the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now; the industries of the future don’t.
posted by Jakey at 5:01 AM on April 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


Where is this relentless campaign to discredit global warming coming from that Krugman relentlessly brings up over and over again? I mean, facts are facts, especially scientific facts.

And yeah, we know it's in everyone's best interest to prevent the end of the world, but otherwise that was a super economics lesson. I had no idea that taxing pollution would reduce pollution. Indeed. And what a genius solution Krugman has proposed to save the world: reduce pollution by taxing US companies who burn carbon via a cap and trade system. Only thing now is we need to decide what type of cap and trade. Way I see it: companies have to make a profit or they go bankrupt, so they pass taxes on to their customers. That kind of sucks, but if you make the cap and trade bill an auction system by the government, which then starts selling the carbon credits immediately (i.e., next Tuesday), but the caps will not go into effect until 2014 or 2015--and start them off kind real mild, but gradually increasing through, say, 2020. This way you reduce the deficit (through 2010) and everyone wins.

Here's the thing though: the US is already willing to reduce carbon emissions--problem is there are bunches of other countries that refuse to cut back, like India and China. What do we do about this? They're not backing down, not even in the slightest.

Oh yeah, and one other problem: poop. No one wants to get rid of cows and dogs, but the methane from their poop is really bad. What is the solution to this issue?
posted by stevenstevo at 5:57 AM on April 9, 2010


Krugman: Oh, and a snowy winter on the East Coast of the U.S. has given climate skeptics a field day, even though globally this has been one of the warmest winters on record.

I was thinking about that yesterday when DC experienced a 90-degree day in the first week of April. It was less than two months ago that Senator Inhofe built an igloo on the capitol grounds and Senator DeMint said, "it's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries 'uncle'." robocop is bleeding had the right idea with this comment.
posted by peeedro at 6:40 AM on April 9, 2010


Oh yeah, and one other problem: poop. No one wants to get rid of cows and dogs, but the methane from their poop is really bad. What is the solution to this issue?

Capture it, dry it, and burn it. No really, it oxidizes into CO2 and water, which are less potent greenhouse gases, while providing an additional energy source.
posted by explosion at 7:17 AM on April 9, 2010


No one wants to get rid of cows and dogs, but the methane from their poop is really bad. What is the solution to this issue?

Capture it, anaerobically digest it, and burn the resulting biogas. They were even talking about getting a digester on The Archers! There's a real commercial-scale one in North Devon.
posted by Lebannen at 7:59 AM on April 9, 2010


stevenstevo: Here's the thing though: the US is already willing to reduce carbon emissions--problem is there are bunches of other countries that refuse to cut back, like India and China. What do we do about this? They're not backing down, not even in the slightest.

Krugman discusses this in the article. Short answer: carbon tariffs on imported goods.
posted by russilwvong at 8:07 AM on April 9, 2010


stevenstevo: Here's the thing though: the US is already willing to reduce carbon emissions--problem is there are bunches of other countries that refuse to cut back, like India and China. What do we do about this? They're not backing down, not even in the slightest.

No, China, and to a much lesser extent India are one problem, but the fact is China is still only producing just over a quarter of the US's per capita emissions and India produces less than a fifteenth of US emissions. So China, taken as a whole is about the same size of a problem as the US, but since there are 4 times as many people they get a bit more credit. India is nowhere near the problem the US is as yet, and this is based on current emissions, leaving aside the huge amount of carbon the US has already spewed out over the last 200 years and which will be hanging around for decades. The proposed US reductions are still pretty trivial and the US is very much a continuing problem.
posted by biffa at 8:40 AM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I stopped reading Krugman when he started writing about politics and not economics, but this is a good article. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by treeshar at 10:49 AM on April 9, 2010


Where is this relentless campaign to discredit global warming coming from that Krugman relentlessly brings up over and over again? I mean, facts are facts, especially scientific facts.

What?

Here's the thing though: the US is already willing to reduce carbon emissions

What?

problem is there are bunches of other countries that refuse to cut back, like India and China.

There are three problematic countries. The U.S, China, and India. Add the EU and Japan, and that's almost all of the earth's CO2 emissions. There's no question that the U.S and EU together could pressure China to do whatever they want, in the face of economic sanctions.

China is an export based economy. It just passed Germany last year, actually. If Chinese exports were taxed appropriately to cover China's excess emissions, that would probably solve the problem.
posted by delmoi at 8:50 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't even read this article. I got to the bit about Pigovian taxes ( which was a concept I was already familiar with, though not the term and the origin ), and I just had to close it because trying to imagine how you'd discuss issues like this in the public discourse was driving me crazy.

Seriously, this is a nice article, and it's very informative, but don't we already know all this? How do we even begin to address problems like this when half the country equates cap and trade with Communism?
posted by heathkit at 10:43 PM on April 9, 2010


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