There are two major problems with this. First, technological innovation is not enhanced by governments attempting to pick winners, but by encouraging and rewarding private investment and entrepreneurship in truly free markets.
Spending taxpayer money on problems that government wants to solve generally means the “problems,” and the funding recipients, are chosen for political reasons. As failures like Europe’s Concorde, Australia’s pink batts home insulation program and America’s Synfuels Corporation attest, they rarely achieve the desired result, but breed enormous cost, waste and corruption.
Second, the amount of capital invested in attempting to improve the efficiency of “green” energy over the last three decades is many tens of billions of dollars in tax credits and other subsidies. The results are lamentable, and fraught with waste and corruption on an embarrassing scale. Even when the sun shines or wind blows, solar-cell and wind-turbine power remains inefficient, unreliable, destructive of landscapes, and at least three times more expensive than conventional alternatives. These technologies survive solely because governments are in political thrall to small, but noisy and powerful, Green voter minorities and their rent-seeking corporate allies.
Can anyone seriously support pouring yet more unrequited money down this drain?
Lomborg also seems to have missed the fact that the debate over global warming has moved on. The ClimateGate emails were followed by the wholesale discrediting of the IPCC as a source for reliable scientific or policy advice. Moreover, new scientific papers continually weaken the already tottering hypothesis that human carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous climate disruption. Many independent scientists and commentators now realize that the real hazards we face come from natural climatic events and changes – rather than from hypothetical, computer-modeled “manmade global warming.”
The appropriate response to climate hazards, whether natural or human-caused, is to adapt to events, as and when they happen. Two recent books (Adaptive Governance and Climate Change, by Ronald Brunner and Amanda Lynch, and Climate: the Counter Consensus, by Robert Carter) describe this approach in detail. As former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson puts it, “First and foremost, we must do what mankind has always done, and adapt to whatever changes in temperature may in the future arise.”
Public debate about global warming has been dominated for far too long by scientists, economists and social scientists who proceed from the assumption that human CO2 emissions are causing dangerous warming. Most are unable to assess the latest science themselves, or have accepted verbatim what the world has now come to realize is the deeply flawed, alarmist advice of the IPCC.
The time has come to listen instead to the majority opinion of qualified independent scientists. They conclude that climate hazards are overwhelmingly natural problems, and thus should be dealt with by the time-honored civil defense technique of preparing for adverse events in advance, and adapting to them when they occur.
Whether the hazards are short-term (hurricanes and floods), intermediate (drought) or long-term (warming or cooling trends), preparation must be specific and regional in scale, for the hazards themselves vary widely by geographic location. If governments prepare properly for the full range of natural climatic hazards to which their countries are regularly exposed, this “be prepared” approach will also address the risk of future human-caused climate disruptions, should they ever occur.
Preparation and adaptation for all climate change is the simple, commonsense, cost-effective and precautionary Plan B that all governments can, and should, support.
This article is co-authored by Professor Bob Carter, an adjunct Research Fellow at James Cook University (Queensland). A paleontologist, stratigrapher, marine geologist and environmental scientist with more than thirty years professional experience, his personal research publication record includes more than 100 papers in international science journals on palaeontology, palaeoecology, the Great Barrier Reef, and sea-level and climate change. He continues to conduct research on climate change, sea-level change and stratigraphy and has been an expert witness on climate change before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, the Australian and New Zeeland Parliamentary Select Committees into Emissions Trading, and briefings at the 2009 climate summit in Stockholm.
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