Re: [asa] Carbon Offsets for the Elite (or, How the Wealthy Adapt to Warming)

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Sun Mar 04 2007 - 12:04:43 EST

I have agreed with you in the past that the WSJ is the paper of record for
warming deniers. The point of my post however, had nothing to do with the
science of warming, and everything to do with the economics of the
response. The fact that I focused on Al Gore as a rhetorical device doesn't
make it a mere ad hominem. It is indeed more powerful rhetorically to focus
on Al's heated pool, but if that focus makes a substantive point, it is not
a mere ad hominem.

And still, no one seems able to address the substantive point. It isn't
merely that the "rich will adapt." It is that the gross disparity between
rich and poor nations will make an international carbon trading market
infeasible and unjust, just as disparity between the very rich (Al and Leo)
and ordinary consumers disorts things on a micro scale.

Notice also that I haven't suggested nothing should be done. I suggested a
graduated tax that focuses most heavily on market segments with price
elastic demand -- in line with what economic research on differential
pricing (sometimes called "Ramsey pricing") suggests is an efficient way to
deal with disparities in price elasticity between market segments.

Given that I've offered a substantive solution, I'd suggest the ad hominem
shoe is on the other foot. Not everyone who opposes the Kyoto solution is a

On 3/4/07, Rich Blinne <> wrote:
> On Mar 4, 2007, at 5:28 AM, George Murphy wrote:
> Tut-tut again David. The fact that the wealthy can, *ceteris paribus*, cope
> better with a response to global warming is hardly a big surprise & is not
> an argument against such a response. The fact that your argument is in fact
> *ad hominem* is shown by the simple fact that you focussed on Al Gore. If
> it had been about the heated pool of Joe Schmoe it would have little impact.
> But instead of concentrating on the weaknesses of Gore's proposals, why
> not come up with some of your own? The 3d line of defense of global warming
> deniers - after having admitted that warming is real & is in significant
> part caused by human beings - now seems to be that it costs too much to do
> anything about it.
> The third line of defense is the problem is simultaneously trivial and
> the-end-of-the-world-as we-know-it. So, which is it? If it is trivial than
> the proposals will improve our security by lowering our fossil fuel usage.
> If it is the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it then we should say to the rich
> that they need to do much more. In neither case does it produce policies
> favored by the WSJ editorial board. In reality, it is neither: a solvable
> but difficult problem -- for the rich. The valid point that David raised is
> that the rich will adapt. The poor will become environmental refugees like
> what happened after Hurricane Mitch. This makes the WSJ position, oh we'll
> just adapt, that much more cruel.
> If evangelical environmental skeptics are truly interested in what climate
> change does to the poor, then listen to the Christian organization whose
> mission is to minister to them, World Vision:

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Received on Sun Mar 4 12:05:34 2007

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