Why the “Green New Deal” Should Be Abandoned

It is ever more certain that climate change is going to be a major issue in the 2020 Presidential election. Many of the declared candidates have already endorsed Congressional resolutions called the “Green New Deal” (GND) introduced by a freshman Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Senator Edward Markey, D-MA. The program has been costed at a mere $93 trillion over ten years to reduce human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and series of government programs to decrease the income differences between lower and higher income citizens. This number may not mean much to most people, but it is roughly five times US gross national product and is supposed to be accomplished in 10 years.

So if adopted, this program would take the place of about half of current expenditures in the US economy for a ten year period. Commercial aircraft service and fossil fuel energy use would be banned. Obviously, there would have to be very difficult cuts in many other types of expenditures since half of current such expenditures would have to be cut to free up resources for all the required new expenditures. Food and medical care and essential government expenditures (such as military) would have to be maintained. So what would be cut? Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey have not specified. It is likely that there would need to be rationing, perhaps on a very broad scale, even compared to World War II.

Perhaps the major weakness of the GND is that it would accomplish nothing of significant value. Assuming that the Obama-era climate models provide any useful information, it is estimated that if fully implemented it might reduce temperatures by 0.14 degrees C by 2100, which is not measurable. As pointed out in a number of many previous blog posts, it is doubtful that it would have any significant effect at all. So huge sacrifices and no measurable benefits. Some leading experts argue that small increases in global temperatures would be beneficial, rather than a cost since humans would benefit from slightly increased temperatures.

The opposition to GND needs to concentrate on the costs of GND because public support for decarbonization is very soft, particularly if the costs are high. Are people willing to give up all air travel? Are people willing to build a high speed rail network and spend days making transcontinental trips and use ships to get to Hawaii, Alaska, and other non-contiguous destinations? The US has reduced CO2 emissions than any other country, but the rest of the world has demonstrated a widespread inability to reduce CO2 emissions by government imposed decarbonization. But the authors of the GND may have not learned much from many years’ experience to implement decarbonization. It is the US which has “achieved” the most and has done it largely through the operation of the energy market.

It is likely that the GND proposal will undergo changes before the 2020 Presidential election, but the economic benefits are unlikely to increase much as reductions are made in the scope of GND. It would be more reasonable to abandon the whole concept before someone actually takes it seriously.

via Carlin Economics and Science


March 2, 2019 at 09:00PM

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