David R. Henderson  

Henderson on Scott Pruitt

Automation and trade... Kahan and the Politically Moti...

Yesterday, USA Today's editorial page called, in response to yesterday's post, to ask me to write an "opposing view" on Scott Pruitt. They gave me the tightest deadline I've ever faced: 2.75 hours to write a 340-word piece. The editor told me that it shouldn't be hard because of the small word count. I told him that that is often harder.

But I did it in an hour, including some basic research.

Here's the USA Today viewpoint.

And here's mine.

Neither the editorial writer nor I saw each other's editorial.

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CATEGORIES: Regulation

COMMENTS (14 to date)
Mr. Econotarian writes:

Even if you are skeptical about CO2 related climate change, the evidence for CO2 driven ocean acidification is more clear, see:

Ralph writes:

Prof. Henderson:

Whatever the constitutional issues on EPA action, you really should take a closer look at the science on climate change, its impact on human life and the human role in producing it. Our era is not called the Anthropocene for nothing. It's possible to take a skeptical attitude to the opinion of experts on anything, but in this case the evidence is undeniable.

A good source of informed opinion is this blog, curated by a scientist, not a publicist.


Yaakov writes:

It sure is hard to fit everything in, in such a limited column and in such a short time frame. Still, I think more space should have been given to elaborating on the basic economic tradeoff that nothing comes for free.

You rightfully stated:
"Each additional small increase in air and water quality can be achieved at a higher cost than the previous increase. Past some point, the marginal cost exceeds the marginal benefit."

But these are tough words for the layman (including most people not in economics) and in my opinion it would be better to spend more words on explaining them than on mentioning the Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations.

Many climate alarmists automatically jump from the idea that humans may be contributing to global warming to the idea that the government *necessarily* should force us to do something about it. The truth is that these studies tell us nothing about the costs and *benefits* (which are always ignored) of global warming vs. the costs and benefits of doing something about it.

Personally, I think humans are contributing to global warming somewhat, but it is probably less than most models are predicting (they historically have significantly overestimated global warming, but if we don't have faith in these inaccurate models, then we are "deniers").

Also, like Bjorn Lomborg (AKA the "Skeptical Environmentalist"), I think that the cost to do something about it would have a much greater benefit if spent on other issues (see the Copenhagen Consensus).

Andrew_FL writes:

LOL I love when people make apparently sincere pleas that you inform yourself by reading a propaganda site created by Fenton Communications and Environmental Media Services.

John K writes:

I think that politicians being smarter than scientist is something that disgusts me. Politicians only want to dispel global warming concerns so they can continue to benefit the profits they make from coal. @andrew_FL

Gerry R writes:

Politicians only want to inflame global warming concerns so they can continue to reap the associated carbon taxes to expand the command economy

Khodge writes:

At the least, the "agreements" that Obama signed need to be sent to the Senate for ratification. Without that, we are dealing with pieces of paper that have no force of law yet lead other countries to believe the US has agreed to something that it hasn't.

Andrew_FL writes:

"Politicians only want to dispel global warming concerns so they can continue to benefit the profits they make from coal."

LOL these jokes keep getting better. The biggest thing the government might do to help coal is ban fracking.

Chuck writes:

You wrote 20 ppm. I thought it was 200 ppm. Was that a typo?

David R. Henderson writes:

Not a typo. I meant 20 ppm.

Dale Courtney writes:


You were overly generous in your statement

"Some climate models that were created some years ago predicted a temperature that is substantially higher than the actual temperature we observe.”.

To be exact: >95% of the models have over-forecast the warming trend since 1979.

This is incredible bias in overpredicting the warming.

And yet, many tout the faulty models as reality as opposed to the actual data.

I would encourage your EconLib readers to look into the more reliable satellite temperature data as opposed to the less reliable earth surface temperature data.


jonathan kadima writes:

Fracking, has begun to rise in popularity over the past few years. They blast water and chemicals beneath the earth’s surface to gain access to valuable natural gas and oil. This has become useful, but there are pros and cons.

Pros - Decrease Dependency on Foreign Oil, Lower taxes

Cons - Water Droughts, spread of toxins and pollution.

Just like @Andrew I believe that the cons are important to pay attention to and instant benefits should be suppressed and focused on long term environmental stability.

Andrew_FL writes:

@jonathan kadima-LOL what how did you get that from my comment?

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