After writing an entire column on oil without mentioning global warming, Samuelson writes an entire column on the supposedly high cost of tackling global warming without mentioning key solutions, such as energy efficiency.
With today’s technologies, we don’t know how to cut greenhouse gases in politically and economically acceptable ways. The world’s 1,700 or so coal-fired power plants — big emitters of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas — are a cheap source of electricity.
But for Samuelson, “today’s technologies” to replace coal consist entirely of solar power, wind power, and nuclear power. While solar and wind are certainly more viable than he thinks, the egregious mistake is to ignore the most cost-effective strategy for reducing emissions — simply using energy more efficiently.
This is a common mistake, as we have seen. In fact, many major studies, including one by five national laboratories, have shown that for we could achieve significant carbon reductions without raising the nation’s total energy bill. Those studies include an aggressive set of policies to promote energy-efficient technologies that can pay for their extra cost through reduced energy bills.
Samuelson says, “It seems impossible to have an honest conversation about global warming.” His piece does little to improve the dialogue.