I was ever so briefly at a conference on pricing carbon this weekend at Wesleyan (I was a moderator for a session). The panelists were committed to the same goal (reduced CO2 emissions) so the discussion focused on the issue of regulatory design and policy instruments. Of the competing approaches—cap-and-trade, cap-and-dividend, and a straight carbon … Continue reading The Carbon Tax and Fiscal Responsibility
Senate Majority Leader Reid has declared cap-and-trade dead (for now). As the Christian Science Monitor notes: In a bid to win Republican support, Democrats will drop proposed controls on greenhouse gas emissions in favor of more limited measures that have attracted bipartisan support in the past. These include: lifting the liability cap to hold BP … Continue reading Cap-and-trade: Will the dead rise again?
Environmentalists are coming around to the idea of nuclear power. This is good news - though we should be just as critical of any rent-seeking by the nuclear power industry as we would of other "green" technology companies and their allies in the government.
It is no original insight to note that ecologists and economists both derive equilibrium theories from the Darwinian assumption of natural selection of the traits of successful replicators - organisms for ecologists, firms for economists. Like an ecosystem, the economy is an "emergent" or "spontaneous" order, in which the decentralized actions of countless individuals generate … Continue reading Why Free-Marketeers Should Be Environmentalists (And Vice Versa)
The leaking underwater oil well in the gulf has attracted much attention, as it should. The effects could be devastating for the already battered economy of Louisiana and other states dependent on tourist dollars. President Obama has announced, quite correctly: “BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill.” The President’s response … Continue reading Putting a Crisis to Good Use
So let's take some examples of things one could do for the benefit of the environment: eating less meat; polluting less by, e.g., driving less; propagating native species and destroying invasive species; reducing, reusing, and recycling; not littering; not spraying pesticides. Assume for the sake of argument that we will all benefit if everyone did these things. Do we then have a duty to do them? Would it be wrong not to do them?
The environmental movement has brought some good things. In particular, policymakers are much more prone (in some cases forced to) think about environmental costs. Market failures with respect to pollution have been profound in the past and continue to be so. There is a clear role for government to play in protecting the environment. My … Continue reading An Earth Day Wish