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WaPo vs. Climate Change

Posted by Danny Morris on April 29, 2009

If any of you are avid readers of the Washington Post editorial pages, then lately you might have noticed some climate change-related hating. There was of course the well-documented brouhaha back in February surrounding George Will’s spurious climate change articles and the Post’s editorial board refusing to do anything about his painfully incorrect assertions. Accusations and double talk bandied about, arguments were made, a good time was had by all.

This week, Post columnist Robert Samuelson decided to get in on the act as well. His column doesn’t do anything as egregious as question whether global warming is real or not. Instead, he goes after environmental groups that are trying to convince the public that climate change legislation will cost almost nothing. Why is this bad? Because according to him:

The claims of the Environmental Defense Fund and other environmentalists that this reduction can occur cheaply rely on economic simulations by “general equilibrium” models…The trouble is that these models embody wildly unrealistic assumptions: There are no business cycles; the economy is always at “full employment”; strong growth is assumed, based on past growth rates; the economy automatically accommodates major changes — if fossil fuel prices rise (as they would under anti-global-warming laws), consumers quickly use less and new supplies of “clean energy” magically materialize.

So, either climate change doesn’t exist or it’s a great way for those evil enviro-types to lie to us all with their voodoo economics models, according to the WaPo editorial stable. Samuelson’s claims don’t hold up much better than Will’s, though. Just like Will got pummeled by the blogosphere, Paul Krugman rides into the picture to lay an editorial pimp-slap on Samuelson, saying:

I don’t think there’s a single thing there that’s right. What on earth do business cycles have to do with it? The models may assume growth based on past trends, but they DO ask whether emissions policy would greatly slow growth — and the answer is no. Consumers aren’t assumed to “quickly” use less — the time frame in these models is decades long. And new supplies don’t “magically” appear — they respond to price incentives, which is what economics usually says…this column exemplifies a strange thing about the climate change debate. Opponents of a policy change generally believe that market economies are wonderful things, able to adapt to just about anything — anything, that is, except a government policy that puts a price on greenhouse gas emissions.

Well said, Dr. Krugman. Needless to say, if you are looking for a well thought-out and robust discussion about the pros and cons of climate change legislation, perhaps it would be wise to steer clear of the Washington Post.

Posted in Climate Change, econ-bashing, Media, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

More evidenceless econ bashing

Posted by Rich Sweeney on February 19, 2009

David Roberts doesn’t like Daniel’s new office. While he admits that he doesn’t really know what the office does, his “gut” tells him that it can’t be good becuase the staff consists of “mainstream” economists (aka jerkoffs). These mainstream economists pose a grave threat to humanity, partly because “they tend to understate the cost of inaction, overstate the cost of action, [and] rely too heavily on models that account poorly for efficiency and innovation.” Fortunately a prescient cohort of superintellects headed up by Joe Romm have calculated the true costs of climate action and inaction, and mapped out the optimal sequence of investment and innovation, which they will reveal to the world at some point in the very near future, making all the mainstream economists look like IDIOTS. Don’t get too comfortable Daniel!

Posted in econ-bashing | 2 Comments »