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Tom Harris and Bob Carter: The Masters of Evasion

Harris and Carter have written a masterpiece of climate-change denier evasion!! I love it. For example, look at the line “CO2 is not ‘carbon’. Neither is it pollution.” This is like a kid saying “I didn’t eat the cookie. It was a biscuit.” Technically CO2 really is not carbon: it is carbon and oxygen. Technically it is not pollution: it is only pollution in excess in the atmosphere.

On the other hand, “carbon” is technically correct if you realize that that combustion doesn’t add any of the oxygen in CO2 to the atmosphere – it was there already: we just added carbon to the oxygen. If Harris and Carter want to complain that ordinary language usage is not technical enough they will have to up their game.

And “carbon” is right in another sense. When we come to deal with the problem we will not waste time trying to measure and charge for the carbon dioxide coming out off the tailpipe: we will just charge for the carbon going into the tank farms and pipelines. Carbon is the right word when you look for solutions.

I actually appreciate thoughtful politicians – like Hyer and May – saying “carbon” as an abbreviation for”carbon dioxide released in combustion of fossil fuels to produce energy to operate many essential social purposes and then released into the atmosphere where the long-run accumulation has inititiated changes in the atmosphere of such magitudes that it will now have very large economic and social costs.”

I don’t appreciate lies like, ” No evidence exists that the amount humans have added to the atmosphere is producing dangerous warming, or, indeed, any measurable temperature rise at all.” This is not a usefull abreviation. It is simply a lie.

Harris and Carter are also misleading when they talk aout the “lemming-like rush by governments to generously subsidize what are otherwise uneconomic sources of energy, solar and wind power in particular.” As an economist I would point to the subsidies for fossil fuels. The total value massively exceeds all the spending on alternate sources. And as an economist I would point to the fact that the prices of alternate energy are coming down very rapidly as a result of the subsidies. It has been a successful policy. This part of the Harris and Carter’s piece is just junk economics. The authors are wading into territory they don’t understand.

There is an innovative new trick in htis piece, though. Harris and Carter appeal to the ” historic separation that previously existed between energy policy and climate policy.” This almost makes sense until you realize that once upon a time people didn’t know about the link betwee sex and babies. Once they figured that out they made darned sure their kids didn’t forget it.

Link to column in Net News Ledger: http://www.netnewsledger.com/2014/10/13/environment-commissioner-off-base-connecting-climate-and-energy/?fb_action_ids=904971656199307&fb_action_types=og.comments