Interesting point #1: Agriculture will be the industry hurt most by global warming. To scientists, this isn't news. Anyone who follows climate science already knows that global warming will turn the Midwest into a permanent dust bowl of drought and decay. But it should be a wakeup call to agricultural interests and Midwestern Senators currently opposed to climate and clean energy legislation. Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, for example, fears that cap-and-trade will hurt Kansas farmers by raising energy prices. Memo to Sen. Brownback: cheap energy doesn't help crops grow when there's no rain.
A New York University School of Law survey found near unanimity among 144 top economists that global warming threatens the United States economy and that a cap-and-trade system of carbon regulation will spur energy efficiency and innovation.
“Outside academia the level of consensus among economists is unfortunately not common knowledge,” Richard Revesz, dean of the law school, said during a press conference Wednesday. “The results are conclusive – there is broad agreement that reducing emissions is likely to have significant economic benefits.”
The law school’s Institute for Policy Integrity sent surveys to 289 economists who had published at least one article on climate change in a top-rated economics journal in the past 15 years. Half of those economists responded anonymously to a dozen questions that solicited their opinions on a range of issues, from the impact of climate change on particular industries to how the benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions should be calculated.
The survey found that 84 percent of the economists agreed that climate change “presents a clear danger” to the United States and global economies – hitting agriculture the hardest – even though the severity of global warming remains unknown.
Only 5.6 percent disagreed with that statement while 7.6 percent were neutral and 2.8 percent had no opinion.
Interesting point #2: Uncertainty increases, not decreases, the case for action NOW. Again, this is not news to anyone who follows climate science and economics. But the Superfreaknonomics authors, or the hack Jim Manzi over at nationalreview.com, should take note of this:
Seventy-three percent of the respondents agreed that the uncertainty surrounding the severity of climate change raises the economic value of implementing measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.The reason is simple: the costs of climate change range from large to civilization-destroying, while the worst-case costs of implementing cap-and trade look something like this. The economic crisis has taught us not to discount "long-tail" probabilities which, though unlikely to occur, would be almost too terrible to imagine if they did.
Interesting point #3: 98% of economists agree cap-and-trade will boost innovation and efficiency in the economy. This is a truly critical finding. Economics 101 teaches that economies grow not by keeping the price of goods cheap, but by inventing more products and producing them using fewer unit inputs. Unsurpisingly then, placing a price or cap on carbon would force companies to find ways of producing their goods using less energy, spurring a tidal wave of innovation and economic growth. And 92% of economists agree that market-based mechanisms like cap-and-trade are the best way to accomplish this goal. In fact, according to the poll, "most economists would support the cap‐and‐trade structure proposed by the main legislative options now pending before Congress."
So to the skeptic who thinks scientists are making up global warming: now you have two free market sources whose word you can take. Ask reinsurance company Munich Re, who believes climate change will be so destructive to property that they're pushing a $400 billion project to combat CO2. Or you can ask free market economists, 84% of whom believe global warming will damage the economy, and 98% of whom believe cap-and-trade will spur innovation and efficiency.
Don't believe in global warming? Ask an insurance company
Visualizing the "costs" of cap-and-trade