Nobelist Krugman takes on the “fantasists” of the “burn-baby-burn crowd” for opposing climate action that costs Americans 18 cents a day

Nobel prize-winning NYT columnist Paul Krugman has been doing some terrific writing on the economics of climate action (see Climate action “now might actually help the economy recover from its current slump” by giving “businesses a reason to invest in new equipment and facilities” and “Krugman strongly endorses Waxman-Markey“).

Now he writes on Friday’s important CBO study, which found a “cost to households of Waxman-Markey in 2020 at $22 billion “” which, given a projected population of 335 million, comes to 18 cents a day.  [We’ve been using the household figure of 48 cents a day.]  He ends his column titled, “Climate change fantasies“:

The point is that we need to be clear about who are the realists and who are the fantasists here. The realists are actually the climate activists, who understand that if you give people in a market economy the right incentives they will make big changes in their energy use and environmental impact. The fantasists are the burn-baby-burn crowd who hate the idea of using government for good, and therefore insist that doing the right thing is economically impossible.

From a fellow climate realist — Hear!  Hear!

9 Responses to Nobelist Krugman takes on the “fantasists” of the “burn-baby-burn crowd” for opposing climate action that costs Americans 18 cents a day

  1. Jeff Huggins says:


    Krugman offers those wise insights, AND Thomas Friedman also recently pointed out (reminded us of) the connection between our oil habit and the trouble that causes in other parts of the world — recent example, Iran.

    The matters of our oil habit and dependence are important for a number of reasons, and The Times clearly knows it.

    I will be continuing to “push on” the need for The Times to give the public “the straight and accurate story” in response to ExxonMobil’s confusing public ads, the most recent of which was on The Times’ own front page, as you wrote about last week.

    Enough is enough. Now, it’s time to see if The Times takes its journalistic responsibilities seriously, in the news itself, supported with facts, on the front page.

    Bravo to Krugman and to Friedman.

    Be Well,


  2. EricG says:

    Krugman is terrific. He’s more focused on reality than other economists. If I had acted on his insight regarding the real estate crash I’d be rich. Or at least upper middle class.

    Krugman’s $0.18 is a per capita cost, not a per household cost. If we assume 2.59 people per household (per US 2000 census) we get …. $0.466!

  3. PaulK says:

    My only problem is that the $890 gross is the direct cost per household while the net is a result of projected and somewhat indirect reductions.

  4. Rick Covert says:

    Thus Saint Paul of Princeton speaks. :) Thank you Paul Krugman for being the economist of the common man.

  5. Morris says:

    I doubt the CBO is being realistic about peak coal and peak oil.

    Factor in what peak coal and peak oil would do to energy costs and our economy in the BAU scenario, HR2454 wiil probably end up saving the average american thousands a year, maybe even their job, their house, and their lifestyle.

  6. David B. Benson says:

    Morris — Good. Tell representatives; they need to hear it.

  7. DavidCOG says:

    Excellent. That last paragraph was poetry.

    However, I thought this comment was persuasive:

    Sometimes it feels like we’re doing the equivalent of polishing the porthole windows as the Titanic goes down.

  8. James Newberry says:

    The Nightly Business Report tonight on National Public Radio was using the discredited $3,000 dollar annual cost figure. Read this web log and recieve analysis weeks or months ahead of mass media.

    Thanks Paul Krugman. The only real costs will be to those invested in contaminating enterprises. Avoiding public disease and death is not a cost, it is an investment.

  9. Morris says:

    David B, yes, my duty as well as yours.

    DavidCOG, from your link above, I paste this re HR2454:

    “The bottom line is that we need to reduce our carbon emissions much, much faster and with much more transparent instruments than this one. It’s a stinker.”

    Could not agree more, this is a triple stinker. But this is still solvable, and we are not at endgame yet.

    I look aout the window today at a climate which is still largely unharmed. As do you. Let us fix this.

    Pass this Bill, and in a few months there will be another.