By Request: Bjorn Lomborg

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Jasper wants to know:

I want one prominent liberal blogger to take on that Bjorn Lomborg fellow. Nobody seems to want to, which makes me wonder if he’s on to something. His take on things is not that humans aren’t causing the world to heat up — he acknowledges they are — his take on things is that carbon taxes don’t pass cost/benefit analysis — and his points look plausible to this particular non-expert.

Lomborg’s arguments have never seemed very serious to me at all. But if you want to see his arguments tackled in detail, there’s a three-part series (one, two, three) at Climate Progress (plus plenty of bonus coverage) if you’re interested. Here’s a very thorough inquiry from Grist. Chris Mooney takes a particular look at Lomborg’s assertions about hurricanes.

One thing I would add at a high level of abstraction is this. A well-designed carbon pricing scheme will not only reduce carbon emissions, it will also generate revenue. That revenue can’t be spent on public goods or it can be used to reduce other taxes. If done intelligently, that could easily be a net economic benefit which would render the whole cost-benefit issue moot. It happens to be the case that we’ve traditionally taxed people’s labor and traditionally not taxed their use of dirty energy but there’s no particular economic logic to that.