Greenhouse Hot Air

Greenhouse Hot Air

Murray Letter to the Editor in Forbes Magazine
September 01, 2003

"Can This Man Save the World?" (Aug. 11, p. 54) first assumes there is a problem associated with greenhouse gas emissions that needs to be rectified. The way the science looks, that's doubtful. Satellite records show the atmosphere isn't warming to any significant degree. But if there are marginal social costs of greenhouse emissions, we should consider the perverse incentives created by commodifying carbon dioxide, as proposed by Richard Sandor. It could create a potential $60 billion market, but this isn't new money. It effectively represents the rent fossil-fuel users would pay to what will no doubt become a Carbon Cartel. No wonder Enron lobbied so hard for such a trading scheme. If such a system came into being, energy costs and consumer prices would rise, while real wages, employment and economic output would fall. In general, attaching values to property rights and allowing them to be traded is a good idea, but it does not seem to be appropriate here, where the "right" is an artificial one suggested only by a nonexistent threat.

 

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