Time to sober up

Finally, we have the analysis by a rational “applied economist.” More than 40 years of precise satellite-measured global atmospheric temperatures — have concluded that the “warming” is 0.14 deg.C per decade [which seems reasonable, given that the planet is just coming out of the (1300-1870 A.D.) Little Ice Age].

Is each taxpaying citizen in the Western World willing to pay $10,000 or $100,000 per year to “save the planet from this horrible calamity?” And right now, Earth is much cooler than the three “Warm Periods” that are known to have existed during just the last 3500 years. Let’s get real…

The rise or fall of climate change mitigation

By David L. Debertin

Applied economist and therefore social scientist [retired]

I have become convinced that whether or not the public is willing to invest a lot of their personal income or favor spending a lot of tax dollars on strategies aligned with the climate change activists will depend not on data and science related to things such as sea level change, measurement of melting glaciers, the status of the polar bears, whether or not hurricanes, floods and tornados have become more or less frequent on average or any of the rest of the stuff we see plastered all over the media each and every day, but rather something much simpler. Instead, what concerns most of the public is what I call a set of “kitchen table” issues. Can I keep doing what I have been doing, pretty much, or will this mean that the cost of what I want to continue to do will rise significantly even accounting for the usual inflation over time?

People love it when something costs less and less over time in inflation-adjusted dollars. That has happened for goods such as personal computers and flat-panel TV sets. The consequence of this is that people quickly bought up a lot more computers and TV sets than they might have purchased if either of these cost ever more and more even for the same speed and quality. Indeed, a lot of economic growth hinges on people getting more and more for less and less, as measured in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Given that, the public generally is rightfully wary of any technology that keeps costing more and more to do the same or less than before. For example, if electricity from wind and solar ends up costing more and more per kilowatt hour than electricity made by using coal and natural gas, and as a consequence, heating and cooling a home, keeps costing more and more even when measured in inflation-adjusted dollars, the vast majority of consumers are not going to push for a conversion from fossil fuels to wind and solar. Now if the technology were such that the wind and solar electricity kept costing less and less than the electricity coming from fossil fuels, that is another matter entirely, and conversion by both the public and the power suppliers would be rapid.

The vast majority of the public care nothing for esoteric arguments related to computer simulations of how the earth would be if the global temperature rose by 1.5 degrees C. If the fossil to renewable conversion also reduces the amounts of additional carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere, fine, but the public is not naïve enough to believe that if the US converted all electricity production were moved from fossil fuels to solar., that the mitigation in the rise in global temperature is going to be even noticeable from anywhere in the world. Maybe instead of 1.5 degrees because the US adopted all- renewable electricity then instead of rising 2 degrees C, the global temperature rose only 1.99995 degrees C on account of the extreme steps US residents took but so what? Most of the rest of the world still gets most of its electricity by burning fossil fuels and these countries are not in a financial position to convert to a higher-cost method.

Still, the activists in the US are very self-absorbed and pleased with themselves in showing the world how the public is better off using expensive electricity not the cheap stuff like that the people in India and China use. The global temperature changed only a trivial amount after spending billions and billions of money in the US was simply for show.

A number of years ago none other than resource economists at UC Berkeley did a study that revealed the primary motivation homeowners had for putting solar panels of their houses was not because they were doing something to limit climate change or making an attempt to save the planet, nor for that matter saving money on electricity. The primary reason was to communicate to their neighbors that they too were environmentalists concerned for the planet. The solar panels, fundamentally, were an ego trip to impress the neighbors up the block. It mattered not that they actually accomplished anything positive other than impressing the neighbors and communicating to them their core liberal values.

Newsom has announced that after a certain date, lawn mowers, blowers and other lawn maintenance tools could no longer be sold in California if they are gasoline-powered. These tools must be electric-powered (with electricity from wind and solar power, of course). Much of California is known for having million-dollar+ houses on postage stamp-sized lots. I think you could find a battery-powered lawn mower that might be able to do 1/3 of an acre on a single charge, but that would be pressing it. No matter, Californians generally cannot afford to live on 1/3 acre lots anyway, and anyone who can afford to spend 3 million on a home on a third acre probably is wealthy enough to hire a gardener, and what the gardener must use is not the homeowner’s problem!

Apparently, the kinds of lawn care equipment that owners of larger than city-sized lots ordinarily use has yet to attract the attention of the governor. Still, once the banning of the sale of new lawn mowers and blowers that run on fossil fuels, I expect a thriving on-line market for only very slightly used gas-powered equipment popping up, and a booming business for California mechanics capable of keeping the old gas mower running for yet another season or two.

These proclamations by leaders regarding what can and cannot be sold new are always very interesting. I guess California now thinks they can put a specific date on when the last new fossil fuel-powered vehicle can be sold in the state as well. But equally interesting is that generally these proclamations usually do not apply to vehicles a person already owns or to private transactions involving the sale of used vehicles. Is the governor of California really going to tell me I can’t sell my fossil fuel-powered vehicle to a neighbor of mine but must junk it instead? And if the moratorium applies only to new vehicles, how many miles does a new vehicle have to be driven before it is no longer new but qualifies as used. And aren’t the mechanics going to have great businesses keeping fossil-fuel powered vehicles running well past their expiration dates? California could end up being “Cuba-west”. My motor vehicle is even older than my gasoline-powered lawn mower!

At some point all of this merely becomes silly. California has long been a lab for half-baked political pronouncements with the idea that if Californians are forced to do it, they will somehow start a trend that the rest of the US will follow in a year or two. But people in a lot of other states seem to react very negatively to pronouncements from On-High, federal or state.

All-electric-vehicles (EVs) for everyone in the world? Why? How do those work in states where wintertime temperatures routinely go to -20 degrees F or lower? What is the range on an electric vehicle if the outdoor temperature is -20F not 70F? Are you serious if you think the range numbers based on a 70-degree day — are the same when the outdoor temperature is -20F? Do you really think the public is that stupid? That batteries generally perform less well in cold temperatures is well-known science and anyone who thinks otherwise is in fact a “science denier.”

I actually have a lot of confidence in the ability of the public to sort this all out, and veto all the ideas that are stupid whether they involve stuff the government is forcing or the neighbor is trying to do. The public will dump politicians promoting crazy stuff, eventually, at least most of the time. Right now, if the developed nations did all the things the activists are promoting, chances are the global temperature would not be affected by more than an inconsequential amount. The activists really do not want to believe this, instead thinking it is merely a matter of the public getting engaged in order to “save the planet from climate change.” No proof of that, whatsoever! The activists are delusionary, treating closely-held values as if they had somehow magically morphed into scientific fact.

Climate Derangement Syndrome

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