Monday, March 16, 2009

Article in the Telegraph

There is an interesting article in the Telegraph the other day. It is clearly a climate skeptic article and I have no problem with that. I believe that a greater debate on climate change will give us more knowledge and this will allow us to craft the solutions that will make the most sense economically, environmentally and socially.

What concerns me is the degree of closed mindedness on both sides of the debate. In the comments on the article there is a person seriously suggesting that arguing against climate change should be a criminal offense. At the same time the climate skeptics depict the other side as the new 'communists'. It is unhealthy not to have a debate with both sides conceding the other side has validity.

I am not at all convinced that climate change is a catastrophic problem for us at this time. I firmly believe that we can spend the next ten to twenty years doing more research on the issue and work towards developing an approach that will make the most sense.

It seems to be clear that large scale greenhouse gas emissions are not a good thing for the world, but the timescale of the changes are not pushing us to dramatic and costly action now. We have time to develop new approaches and develop new technologies to deal with fallout of problems.

There are things that we can do now that do not cost us anything and therefore make sense no matter how serious climate change is. One of the changes is more fuel efficient cars. Growing our own food has many more benefits than reduction in CO2 production.

The biggest thing we can do that will not cost us anything is to develop a lot more run of the river hydro. It is competitive with coal and gas fired power, it needs no subsidies to be built. It also has no measurable environmental impact if it is done as we do it in BC. This is a industrial solution that makes sense now.

Carbon taxes also make sense because it moves taxation to an output that should be reduced in any case. Externalities such as waste are not regularly costed in our society and it means that we all bear the costs. By tax the carbon we will push companies to develop solutions that will lower their tax costs.

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