Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics


Posted by Rich Sweeney on March 3, 2008

Where I won’t be today: the Heartland Institute’s global warming skeptics conference in New York. The first page of the program says it all. John Tierney tells us that the meeting is an assortment of “climate scientists, economists and free-market think-tankers”. Are there really any economists out there who don’t believe in negative externalities?

Where I will be tomorrow: the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC). Too many interesting attendees and events to mention. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the DC area, even if it’s just the trade show floor.

Where I hope to never be: at the reception desk of the DC office (read: lobbying branch) of a petroleum company. On Saturday night I had dinner with a friend who is currently temping at the front desk of an oil company. She told me how at their staff meeting last week people just went around the room for twenty minutes complaining that global warming is “total bullshit”. She also told me that the higher-ups’ private bathrooms have $10,000 hand made Italian toilet-paper dispensers. Nuff said.

3 Responses to “Where…”

  1. gormk said

    Exerts from the introduction to the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change program:

    More than 400 people, including 100 speakers and panelists, have registered for
    this event.

    Jim Martin, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and
    Environment, recently told the Denver Post, “You could have a convention of all the
    scientists who dispute climate change in a relatively small phone booth.”

    That is a lie that we hope this conference will finally put to rest, for good.

    It’s probably true you couldn’t fit these people into a “phone booth”. BUT IT WOULD BE REALLY FUN TO TRY!

    A search through the conference program revealed the following economists:

    David Henderson
    ECONLIT: 30 Journal Articles; 0 including word “environment”

    Robert Murphy, Ph.D.
    ECONLIT: 21 Journal Articles; 0 including word “environment”

    Douglas Southgate, Ph.D.
    ECONLIT: 15 Journal Articles; 8 including word “environment”

    Roy Cordato, Ph.D.
    ECONLIT: 5 Journal Articles; 0 including word “environment”

    Jim Johnston
    ECONLIT: 3 Journal Articles; 0 including word “environment”

    Václav Klaus, Ph.D.
    ECONLIT: 21 Journal Articles; 0 including word “environment”

    Richard W. Rahn, Ph.D.
    ECONLIT: 1 Journal Articles; 0 including word “environment”

    An interesting non-economist who brings “a lot” to the conference is Christopher Monckton. Apparently, in the US he has dropped the “Lord” title:

  2. Rich Sweeney said

    wow. thanks for that. i can’t believe current czech president vaclav klaus is on there. that’s like saying, ronald reagan – economist. for those who don’t know him, it’s worth googling “vaclav klaus and global warming”. he’s really fond of likening carbon caps to communism.

    interestingly that clown just narrowly defeated one of my former professors, jan svejnar, in a czech presidential election. no question who the better economist is between those two, and also no surprise which “economist” is attending this conference.

  3. Without endorsing bad science, industry waffling, and/or outright disinformation, I *do* think that climate change science has a lot of uncertainty. The program also asks:
    – how reliable are the data used to document the recent warming trend?
    – how much of the modern warming is natural, and how much is likely the result of human activities? and
    – how reliable are the computer models used to forecast future climate conditions?

    I personally think that climate change is happening and humans have accelerated it, but the big debate over what to do about it relies on the models, which we all know to be flakey sometimes. More here:

    Science thrives on debate, and this event will contribute to it. Good. In the meantime, end the stupid practices that we know are bad — climate change or not — such as subsidies for ethanol, coal, etc.

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