Big Fat Lies About Climate Economics

By Chris Mooney | April 23, 2009 9:12 am

Even though nothing should surprise me any more, I’m still pretty amazed at some of the Republican attacks on the new Waxman-Markey climate change bill (for details, see a report here from Stacy Morford of “Solve Climate”). First of all, the bill doesn’t take effect until 2012, so to cast it as a dire attack on our sputtering economy makes no sense. Everybody expects the economy to have improved by 2012.

Moreover, there appears to be a habit of just making up numbers about how damaging the bill would be. Republicans are saying, in some cases, that it would cost the average family over $ 3000 per year in energy costs–in short, roughly the equivalent of buying a new car. Of course that’s not correct–not even remotely. The EPA estimates that average energy costs would go up between $ 98 and $ 140 per year, and that’s before any rebate gets paid back to citizens, either through a tax cut or by the direct writing of rebate checks. At this point, pretty much everybody expects the final climate legislation to pay the public back with a significant part of the revenues the government earns through the sale of emissions permits; indeed, this will be one key factor in making the bill popular.

In sum, there’s no economic hardship here–and there is vast benefit. But expect the misinformation to continue, in direct relation to how close this bill gets to passage….

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Energy, Global Warming, Politics

Comments (18)

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  1. 5 Sunday Links at Tête-à-Tête-Tête | April 26, 2009
  1. James Lovelock thinks all this incremental progress is not going to help. In his new book “The Vanishing Face of Gaia” he says that there are only two ways to possibly have ourselves from the impending catastrophe; build nuclear power plants as quickly as possible, and colonize Scandinavia, Canada and Siberia. You should definitely take a look at the book. Lovelock is not an alarmist but a man who has thought through this. He says the IPCC predictions are just too linear; reality is likely to be sudden and non-linear in nature and catastrophic in consequence.

    In the end we all die because we never pulled together and stayed divided into Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, American, Indian, Chinese, Christian, Muslim camps.

  2. Jon

    I think the biggest problem for the conservatives is the *idea* that there should be a mandate set by elected government for business.

    There’s an interesting dialog at Bloggingheads between Jane Hamsher and author Kim Phillips-Fein on her the history of the conservative movement–especially business investment in the movement:

    I think a lot of this goes back to J. K. Galbraith’s writings concerning whose ideas gain prestige, and who benefits from that prestige. For the business community, scientists (and the public servants who interpret their work) need to keep in their place.

  3. james wheaton

    Shimkus (R-Illinois) is projectile vomiting over this bill in jaw dropping manner, calling it a worse risk than the two wars we have been waging. His statement a couple of weeks ago about God deciding when the earth is to be changed, or something to that effect, was chilling. How on earth do people like that get into high government positions….Oh, I know – idiots vote them in!!

    I do hope that the likes of him, and too many others in Congress, will have little effect.

  4. Brian M

    Considering how partisan Obama’s appointees have been and continue to be, I wouldn’t trust the EPA estimates. Independent evaluations, among them the GAO, estimates that energy costs for the average consumer will double, minimum, perhaps triple. In my household that amounts to an increase of at least $3600 per year.
    All to support a fruitless attempt to stop global warming? They have aggressive cap and trade in Europe and it hasn’t contributed to any drop in their greenhouse emissions, which continue to rise. The “big fat lies” are coming from this posting, not the right.

  5. Innovative1

    I am at the very low end of the middle class tax bracket and I do not really care how much it costs me. I am willing to pay another 20% in taxes if that is what it takes to fix this nation’s health care and energy issues. If we can move away from coal to natural energy sources then it will be more than worth it. $3,000 waaaaahhhhhh!

  6. Jon

    The above is a generalization, of course. Different members of the business community are different.

  7. Jon

    Interesting Politico article on the present state of the GOP and climate change:

  8. The difference between racists and Enviro-whiners is that racists finance their snit from their own wallets while Envirio-whiners strip mine your wallet.

    In sum, there’s no economic hardship here President Johnson’s 1965 “Great Society” redistributed income from the productive to the reproductve, ending poverty in America with jackbooted State compassion. By 1990, what was a working husband, housewife, and 2-3 kids owning a detached home became two working parents and maybe one kid in crappy quarters living off revolving credit while poverty soared to Officially 20% of all residents. American education worked from 1836 and McGuffey’s Eclectic Primer almost to 1970, then bussing, Head Start, social promotion, and diversity – and unlimited free food for the reproductive lest they not be home-fed to their full potential. In sum, there’s no economic hardship here The Carbon Tax on Everything and Carbon Credit indulgences will Save Our Children! In sum, there’s no economic hardship here

    Who died and made you Elvis?

  9. Pineyman

    Okay, granted that my brain short circuits every time I begin to hear a repub politico speak, but my gut feeling is they can’t think past the end of their collective nose (pardon the mixed metaphor).

    Climate Economics can spur new technology and all its attendant benefits: sustained jobs and job growth, competition, economies of scale, further innovation, oil independency, etc. It’s just so obvious…well I guess to anyone with more than two functioning neurons.

    Jon @ 9:54am – I think you mean “overt” mandates, given that “Drill, baby, drill” is the republican meditation mantra.

  10. Jon

    …And Uncle Al will play the part of the possessed Linda Blair from The Exorcist.

  11. james wheaton

    Brian M – where are you getting your data? A two-minute web search reveals many articles which describe at least some level of success in Europe reducing GHG’s. Besides, the US can learn from what has been successful and what has not. Your comments smell like the vitriolic rhetoric of the far right anti-intellectual wing nuts on Fox.

    And on the costs, I suspect the consumer costs will be substantial when it is said and done – more than the advertised $140/year or something like that. But it must be done, and more. We can’t stand still and watch this climate issue conflate into a runaway, which is not a certainty, but is certainly a very likely possiblility according to the scientific experts who should know. I have kids – I worry about that for them.

  12. MadScientist

    2012? That’s a bit late, isn’t it? What will the government do to encourage progress between now and 2012? The Germans will be laughing as they sell us all the ‘new technology’.

  13. MadScientist

    @Brian M: Like james wheaton I wonder where you get your figures from. If you stood up in front of any number of industry consortia and made such statements about cost you’d be laughed out of the room. The EU ETS is hardly aggressive; it is a dismal failure and people who have a personal stake in its success are really cranking out the apologetics. Perhaps it can improve, but that is something to be judged in the future; in the present we can only say that the EU ETS has to date been an unmitigated flop.

  14. Erasmussimo

    Why should we give any credence whatsoever to the wild claims of Brian M. and the like? These are the same people who are denying that the earth’s temperatures are rising, denying that any rise might be due to human activities, denying that any actions we could take would have any effect, and denying that there will be any injurious effects even if temperatures do rise. With all those many lies, why should they have any credibility now?

  15. Birdzilla

    The biggist amount of HOT AIR around comes from the mouths of AL GORE and those annoying jerks from GREENPEACE so why dont they use duct tape over their fat pieholes to keep the HOT AIR down

  16. Erasmussimo

    Perhaps so, Birdzilla. But what is your considered analysis of the statements of the eminent scientists at the National Academy of Sciences?

  17. Birdzilla

    Their not real scientists their politcal wackos


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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