You Ought to Have a Look: Paris Climate Agreement

You Ought to Have a Look is a feature from the Center for the Study of Science posted by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. (“Chip”) Knappenberger.  While this section will feature all of the areas of interest that we are emphasizing, the prominence of the climate issue is driving a tremendous amount of web traffic.  Here we post a few of the best in recent days, along with our color commentary.

With Earth Day and the grand signing ceremony for the Paris Climate Agreement just around the corner, we thought it apt to highlight some relevant stories from around the web, particularly those critical of the central climate control enterprise.

Recall that we have pointed out the Paris Climate Agreement represents little more than a business-as-usual approach that has been spun to suggest that it represents a collective, international effort in response to a climate change “concern.” Increasing opportunities for riding your bike (etc.) now have been rebranded as efforts to save the world. Right.

We’ve shown that the U.S. pledge under the Paris “Don’t Call It a Treaty” Agreement, while a bit more aggressive than many, turns out to basically be impossible. Putting our name on such pledge seems a bit disingenuous, to put it mildly.

On top of all this comes a new economic analysis from the Heritage Foundation that basically shows that the U.S. intension under the Agreement would be mucho bad news. Here are the Key Points from the report “Consequences of Paris Protocol: Devastating Economic Costs, Essentially Zero Environmental Benefits”:


The justifications for all these findings are described in detail in the full report.

Clearly, considering all the negatives stacked up against the U.S.’s commitment under the Paris Agreement, it’s hard to find any justification for signing it that is built upon anything but false premises.

Next up is a notable article (h/t Judy Curry) called “Twilight of the Climate Change Movement” authored by Mario Loyola, Senior Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, that appears in The American Interest. Loyola points out that despite the “fanfare” surrounding the Paris Agreement, “the climate change movement faces big trouble ahead.”  Loyola explains:

Its principal propositions contain two major fallacies that can only become more glaring with time. First, in stark contrast to popular belief and to the public statements of government officials and many scientists, the science on which the dire predictions of manmade climate change is based is nowhere near the level of understanding or certainty that popular discourse commonly ascribes to it. Second, and relatedly, the movement’s embrace of an absolute form of the precautionary principle distorts rational cost-benefit analysis, or throws it out the window altogether.

Lots of good information in this article, including a review of the uncertainties in the science of climate change and how those uncertainties are downplayed, or swept away, in the pursuit of an anti-industrialist agenda—be sure to check out the whole thing.

Extending a look at the dangers of an anti-industrialist agenda, Cato Adjunct Scholar Alex Epstein gave a dazzling performance in presenting testimony before the April 13th hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee “Examining the Role of Environmental Policies on Access to Energy and Economic Opportunity.” Alex laid out why restricting energy choice—which is the main premise of centralized efforts to mitigate climate change—is a really bad idea:

The energy industry is the industry that powers every other industry. To the extent energy is affordable, plentiful, and reliable, human beings thrive. To the extent energy is unaffordable, scarce, or unreliable, human beings suffer. 

His written testimony is available here.

But we’d be remiss if we left you only with that.

The real fireworks were in his oral testimony and included a tussle with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a call for an apology or resignation from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and telling the committee that most of them would probably not be alive today without cheap, plentiful, reliable energy. The highlights are available here. It is most enjoyable!

And finally, last, but certainly not least, is the Manhattan Institute’s Oren Cass’s excellent piece in the current issue of National Affairs, titled “The New Central Planners.” The piece critically examines the administrative state’s seemingly unquenchable desire to fix market “failures”—a conceit that is perhaps nowhere more on display than in the climate change issue. Here’s a taste:

By asserting that their frameworks, tools, and data prove government action will enhance market efficiency, economists are engaging in a new form of central planning. It differs in degree from traditional command-and-control socialism, but not in kind. It is less absolute — the market economy provides a baseline until an intervention occurs. It is less totalitarian — plans are executed through rules and incentives that alter the behavior of market actors instead of through the direct assignment of resources. But it is rooted in the same conceit that technical expertise can outperform market forces and deserves deference where applied. It suffers from the same challenges of incomplete information, heterogeneous preferences, and subjective values. It relies on the same refusal to acknowledge the inherent tradeoffs that underlie the allocation of scarce resources. And, as a result, it also reduces democratic accountability, economic efficiency, and total welfare.

The alternative to technocratic planning is not post-modern, nihilistic resignation to the impossibility of evaluating policy. It is an administrative state designed around a recognition that market signals and political preferences provide a better guide than can bureaucratic analysis, that those signals and preferences vary locally, and that optimization requires constant recalibration. Many current efforts at regulatory reform focus on increasing the influence of cost-benefit analysis, but in fact we need to reduce it. Management within the executive, delegation from the legislature, and oversight by the judiciary should all assume that technocratic expertise lies only in designing the specific rules to implement when there is a political demand for intervention, not in determining when such interventions are appropriate.

Oren’s article is so chock-full of good stuff that it’s really hard to decide what to excerpt, so be sure to take the time and read his entire essay. We’ll sure that it’ll be time well spent. The same is true for all of the above articles. You really ought to have a look!