Could Fighting Global Warming Be Cheap and Free?
This just in: Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free. But will anyone believe the good news?
I’ve just been reading two new reports on the economics of fighting climate change: a big study by a blue-ribbon international group, the New Climate Economy Project, and a working paper from the International Monetary Fund. Both claim that strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth, and might actually lead to faster growth. This may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t. These are serious, careful analyses.
But you know that such assessments will be met with claims that it’s impossible to break the link between economic growth and ever-rising emissions of greenhouse gases, a position I think of as “climate despair.” The most dangerous proponents of climate despair are on the anti-environmentalist right. But they receive aid and comfort from other groups, including some on the left, who have their own reasons for getting it wrong.
Where is the new optimism about climate change and growth coming from? It has long been clear that a well-thought-out strategy of emissions control, in particular one that puts a price on carbon via either an emissions tax or a cap-and-trade scheme, would cost much less than the usual suspects want you to think. But the economics of climate protection look even better now than they did a few years ago.
On one side, there has been dramatic progress in renewable energy technology, with the costs of solar power, in particular, plunging, down by half just since 2010. Renewables have their limitations — basically, the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow — but if you think that an economy getting a lot of its power from wind farms and solar panels is a hippie fantasy, you’re the one out of touch with reality.
On the other side, it turns out that putting a price on carbon would have large “co-benefits” — positive effects over and above the reduction in climate risks — and that these benefits would come fairly quickly. The most important of these co-benefits, according to the I.M.F. paper, would involve public health: burning coal causes many respiratory ailments, which drive up medical costs and reduce productivity.
And thanks to these co-benefits, the paper argues, one argument often made against carbon pricing — that it’s not worth doing unless we can get a global agreement — is wrong. Even without an international agreement, there are ample reasons to take action against the climate threat.
But back to the main point: It’s easier to slash emissions than seemed possible even a few years ago, and reduced emissions would produce large benefits in the short-to-medium run. So saving the planet would be cheap and maybe even come free.
Enter the prophets of climate despair, who wave away all this analysis and declare that the only way to limit carbon emissions is to bring an end to economic growth.
You mostly hear this from people on the right, who normally say that free-market economies are endlessly flexible and creative. But when you propose putting a price on carbon, suddenly they insist that industry will be completely incapable of adapting to changed incentives. Why, it’s almost as if they’re looking for excuses to avoid confronting climate change, and, in particular, to avoid anything that hurts fossil-fuel interests, no matter how beneficial to everyone else.
But climate despair produces some odd bedfellows: Koch-fueled insistence that emission limits would kill economic growth is echoed by some who see this as an argument not against climate action, but against growth. You can find this attitude in the mostly European “degrowth” movement, or in American groups like the Post Carbon Institute; I’ve encountered claims that saving the planet requires an end to growth at left-leaning meetings on “rethinking economics.” To be fair, anti-growth environmentalism is a marginal position even on the left, but it’s widespread enough to call out nonetheless.
And you sometimes see hard scientists making arguments along the same lines, largely (I think) because they don’t understand what economic growth means. They think of it as a crude, physical thing, a matter simply of producing more stuff, and don’t take into account the many choices — about what to consume, about which technologies to use — that go into producing a dollar’s worth of G.D.P.
So here’s what you need to know: Climate despair is all wrong. The idea that economic growth and climate action are incompatible may sound hardheaded and realistic, but it’s actually a fuzzy-minded misconception. If we ever get past the special interests and ideology that have blocked action to save the planet, we’ll find that it’s cheaper and easier than almost anyone imagines.
The CROWN where global issues are extensively discussed and fiercely debated from both sides of the argument — by one person.
The concept of "secular stagnation" — that the economy may be facing a protracted period of low growth and high unemployment — has been seeping back into economic and policy discourse. Once relegated to the margins of heterodox economic theory, the idea of stagnation as a likely ongoing direction for the economy, in fact, is now virtually mainstream, expounded by such well-known figures as Lawrence Summers and Paul Krugman.
Stagnation, however, is not a new problem. Careful examination of the U.S. economy over the last century suggests that stagnation may not be the exception but just possibly the rule of modern economic performance — a rule that was mainly broken only by the stimulus effects of massive military expenditures at three crucial junctures.
Major economic floundering in the first quarter of the 20th century was relieved by the boost World War I gave to the economy, and the tremendous economic collapse in the second quarter was ended by World War II’s huge increase in military spending. In the third quarter, the Korean War, the Cold War and the Vietnam War added major stimulus at key times.
Moreover, several of the indirect consequences of World War II — including wartime savings, the compression of wages, the strengthening of unions, the GI Bill that educated millions of veterans, and the reconstruction of Europe, together with the fact that major competitors had been temporarily destroyed by war — all contributed to the third quarter’s great economic boom.
The modern trend, despite Iraq, Afghanistan and other smaller-scale wars, is also clear. Defense expenditures declined decade by decade from a Korean War high of 13.8% of the economy in 1953 to 3.7% in the 2000s, with steadily reduced economic impact. The financial bubbles in the late 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s produced only partial and highly unstable upswings that masked the underlying decline.
The notion that stagnation is far more important than is commonly understood has been bolstered by Thomas Piketty’s landmark book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which also emphasizes just how unusual the era of the Depression and two world wars was. Piketty’s analysis suggests that the high growth rates of the post-World War II period were, by and large, an aberration. “Many people think that growth ought to be at least 3 or 4 percent a year,” he wrote. “Both history and logic show this to be illusory.”
Viewed in this light, the latest long-range projections from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based intergovernmental group for advanced economies, make for sobering reading. In a new report, “Policy Challenges for the Next 50 Years,” the OECD warns that economic growth in the world’s advanced industrial economies — including Europe, North America and Japan — will likely slow even further from historic levels over the next half-century, while inequality will rocket to new heights and climate change will take an increasingly damaging toll on world GDP.
According to the projections, the OECD member nations’ annual average contribution to global GDP growth will steadily fall from 1.19% this decade to 0.54% between 2050 and 2060. Meanwhile, inequality in these countries may rise as much as 30% or more.
The OECD projections are, if anything, optimistic, since they assume that Europe and the United States each will absorb in the neighborhood of 50 million new immigrants over this period — an assumption that may run contrary to the restrictive politics of immigration playing out on both sides of the Atlantic.
The economic remedy for stagnation is relatively straightforward — in theory: Faltering demand could be offset by large-scale government spending on infrastructure, education and other much-needed investments. In practice, however, it is painfully clear that large-scale Keynesian policies of this kind are no longer politically viable.
The implications of the emerging possibility of a sustained period of stagnation are profound. Through the repeated economic downturns of recent U.S. history — 11 since 1945 alone — the expectation of eventual sustained recovery has been the critical assumption underpinning both politics and policy. An era of stagnation would undermine the economic basis of traditional political hope of both left and right. It would mean ongoing high unemployment, ongoing deficits, ongoing struggles to fund public programs and, in all probability, ongoing and intensified political deadlock and wrangling as unemployment continues, deficits increase and a profound battle over narrowing economic possibilities sets in.
If stagnation is the new normal, we will likely be forced to reassess the fundamental assumptions of politics and the economy and to ultimately get serious about restructuring our faltering economic system in more far-reaching ways than most Americans have contemplated.
Forty years ago, scientists at the University of California uncovered a global threat. From deodorants to refrigerators, chemicals in our everyday lives were destroying our ozone layer — Earth’s natural shield against the sun’s cancer-causing radiation.
Our fight to save the ozone layer became a defining moment in American leadership. It was American science that uncovered the problem and American industry that innovated the solution. And now the ozone layer is healing. Our people are safer, and our economy is stronger.
Today, we face the threat of global climate change. The pollution and the problem might be different, but the principle is the same. Once again, the world needs the United States to lead. That’s why last year, President Obama laid out a Climate Action Plan to cut the carbon pollution fueling climate change, build a more resilient nation and lead the global climate fight. And he’s at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York this week to reinforce that commitment.
I’m proud to join the president in delivering a clear message: A world-leading economy depends on a healthy environment and a safe climate. We don’t act despite the economy; we act because of it.
We’ve made tremendous progress this year — from deploying record levels of clean energy, to partnering with the private sector to advance low-carbon technologies. And this past June, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from our largest source, power plants.
Climate change supercharges risks to our health and economy, and it’s taxpayers and businesses that pay the price. Fortunately, we can turn our climate challenge into an opportunity to modernize our power sector, lay the foundation for a low-carbon economy, and fuel growth for decades to come. The EPA’s historic fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks are a perfect example of what’s possible. They’re cutting carbon pollution, saving families money at the pump, and fueling a resurgent auto industry that’s added more than 250,000 jobs since 2009. The number of cars coming off American assembly lines made by American workers just reached its highest level in 12 years.
That same story of energy progress is being written across America. Since President Obama took office, the U.S. uses three times more wind power and 10 times more solar power, which means thousands of jobs. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan follows that trend. We need thousands more American workers in construction, transmission, engineering and more to make cleaner power a reality.
Since our proposal lets states choose the low-carbon path that makes sense for them, we’re sending a powerful signal to the market that pulls investment capital off the shelf and into our clean energy economy. We’ve already received great feedback on our proposal, with more than 750,000 comments from health groups, industry groups, faith groups, parents and more. We want every good idea we can get, so we extended the public comment period through Dec. 1.
Our plan pushes progress already underway in companies, city halls and state capitals nationwide. A new report from the Carbon Disclosure Project shows that major companies like Delta, Google and Disney tack on an internal carbon price to their business decisions, because investors see the cost of carbon pollution and the value of cutting it.
It’s true that climate change needs a global solution. We can’t act for other nations, but when the United States of America leads, other nations follow. We set the pace. We invest, build and sell solutions that other nations need.
Action to reduce pollution doesn’t dull our competitive edge — it sharpens it. Years ago, American chemical companies like DuPont and Honeywell innovated safer chemicals to replace the ones destroying the ozone layer and sold those solutions to the rest of the world. Over the last four decades, the EPA has cut air pollution by 70 percent, while the U.S. economy has tripled in size.
The economy has never been a reason to fear action — it’s a reason to take it. A new study by the New Climate Economy Project finds that cutting carbon pollution could actually mean faster economic growth. Another recent study shows even states that are still skeptical, like Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, would actually see an annual net economic benefit of up to about $16 billion dollars.
American leadership shines brightly because we don’t sacrifice our values to move forward. We don’t bend to the false warnings of those who lack faith in American ingenuity. Today, we have more cars, more people, more jobs, more businesses and less pollution. That’s how we define progress.
hen we act on climate, we seize an opportunity to retool and resurge with new technologies, new industries and new jobs. We owe it to our kids not just to act, but to lead. When we do, we’ll leave them a cleaner, safer and opportunity-rich world for generations to come.
Op-ed: The New Polytechnic: Preparing to Lead in the Digital Economy
Think about what is going on right now, all around you. There are satellites above us collecting data on air movements, sensors below us collecting data on ground movements, and cameras all around us collecting data on our movements. Medical devices are measuring heartbeats, and communication devices are receiving and sending tweets, emails, text messages, and GPS signals.
Data is being generated by each of us, about each of us, and collected all around each of us. It is the new natural resource of the 21st century. As with all valuable resources, it is important how we generate it, how we mine it, how we manage it, how we preserve it, and how we connect it.
This extraordinarily rapid expansion in the creation, availability, and interconnectivity of data from multiple sources, and the ever more powerful analytical and computational capacity that is generating new information from this deluge of data, is causing a significant transformation globally in the way we make discoveries, make decisions, make products, make connections and, ultimately, make progress. It is altering all aspects of curriculum and research at universities such as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The ability to aggregate, integrate, validate, structure, and fully use the burgeoning mass of information available will define success in this data-driven future – including for universities.
A new way of working and learning is required – what I have called the “New Polytechnic” – collaborating across disciplines and sectors and regions to harness the power of these tools and technologies to address the key intersecting challenges and opportunities of our time: in energy security, health, food, water, and national security, as well as the linked challenges of climate change and allocation of scarce resources so critical to our future.
In the “New Polytechnic,” universities must collaborate more effectively with businesses and governments to link the capabilities of advanced information technologies, communications, and networking – to the life sciences, and the physical, materials, environmental, social, cognitive, and computational sciences.
We also must prepare the next generation to succeed and lead in this new world. Students need to acquire new skills for this digitally interconnected environment, including the ability to “translate” between and among disciplines and sectors. They must learn to operate effectively and ethically in virtual communities, immersive environments, and in blended worlds.
At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, we are transforming ourselves to develop and use these new tools and technologies so that our faculty and students can apply them to answer the great global challenges.
We are incorporating data literacy across the curriculum, and throughout our research. We are using digitally created immersive environments and multiplayer games, and artificially intelligent characters to teach and to learn.
We launched The Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications – or The Rensselaer IDEA – bringing together talents and strengths in web science, high-performance computing, cognitive computing, data science and predictive analytics, and immersive technologies – and linking them to applications at the interface of engineering and the physical, life, and social sciences.
In addition, we now have the most powerful university-based supercomputer at a private American academic institution; IBM’s Watson computer has enrolled at Rensselaer to expand its cognitive computing skills; a Rensselaer professor is leading the U.S. in a global effort – the Research Data Alliance – to enable scientists to access, combine, and preserve research data; and we have partnered with Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine to push the boundaries of data-driven health research.
Interlinking all of these components and more, we are taking an interdisciplinary approach that will impact research and teaching in powerful new ways. We are educating our students – the next generation of discoverers, innovators, and entrepreneurs – to make a difference in this context. We are modeling the future.
The great universities of the 21st century will remain the physical crossroads where creative people interact across the disciplines and great ideas emerge from these connections. However, in this new digital era, the interconnections will be more global, the pace more rapid, the scale more complex, and the opportunities to change the world more immediate.
Exports have reached new record levels as it arose, but imports have exceeded as well as its prior highs and thread of shockingly high deficits is almost unchanged. Due to this some scientists say that the recovery will only make the gap grow. The UK continues to import more than they export and are carrying a perpetual trade deficit.
The UK has balanced its trade deficit with income from abroad for a period of time. Many companies and investors who own assets in foreign lands and send back the gains to UK are still enjoying the legacy of the empire
The positive result on UK’s present account has decreased harshly since the financial crash, but, and the future looks less hopeful.
HSBC’s chief economist, Stephen King, is also affected by 5% deficit. He argues that that should be down to zero or positive in the aftermath of a severe recession.
King’s concern is that deficits grow in times when many shoppers consume more imported goods than ever. Much better to start from a situation of balance or even a positive balance sooner than the situation worsens.
An appropriate recession, one in which declining wages or mass unemployment that eradicate people’s incomes in total, lessen the import bill noticeably. It is a land that can be seen in Greece, Spain and Portugal, where the horrendous economic and financial conditions they find themselves in have at least improved the trade balance.
The Keynesian answer to the crisis in the UK implemented by Labour and partly sustained by the coalition supports employment and public services, however, as well has the unlucky consequence of preserving high levels of imports. That is the reason the enormous deficits run up by successive governments during and after the recession required to be offset by a major jump in exports.
Regardless of a 25% drop in the significance of sterling, the increase was just small. There are many rival explanations for the reason. The dependence on the EU, which separate from Germany has resisted development since 2008. The inclination for exporters to jack up their prices instead of the increase production as an answer to higher demand is one more long-term problem.
Both give slight motive to expect that an economy that month on month runs a historic elevated deficit previous to the upturn has achieved actual momentum, and with imports increasing further, can evade a mini sterling crisis.
Doomsayers disagree Britain has 18 months to two years to discover its export mojo ahead of it is becoming crystal clear a lower pound is needed. A minor pound would give exporters another increase and perhaps close up the deficit, however, would as well elevate import prices and inflation. Higher inflation, joined with a consumer boom that is mostly based on additional borrowing, may perhaps oblige the Bank of England to jack up interest rates. Whatever supporters of higher rate dispute, a speedy and vicious response from the central bank is unwanted and would convey the recovery to a shaky halt.
Saudi Arabia, regardless of its deep discomfort about the West’s hesitant rapprochement with Iran, seems to have some viable selection for practicing a more independent and straightforward foreign policy.
Disappointed with the United States from constructing tactical relations with other world powers to thrusting a tougher line in opposition to Iranian allies in the Arab world and, in an instance that the world powers be unsuccessful to foil Tehran’s nuclear objectives, even looking for its own atomic bomb so senior Saudis have expected at a range of possibilities.
However substitute powers are tough even to think for a nation that has been holding back to U.S. ally for decades. Russia is on the conflicting side against Riyadh concerning the Syrian war and China’s military clout is still modest as compared with the United States’.
Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Riyadh from 2001-03, said there would be limits to any Saudi alliances with other powers.
The Economist’s The World in 2014 issue focuses international attention on the geopolitical outcomes we can expect to see over the next 12-14 months hits the newsstand. It features an article by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Phil Tetlock and journalist Dan Gardner on the Good Judgment Project. That said article isa research study funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA, the U.S. government’s analog to DARPA), as a result, makes such geopolitical predictions each day.
IARPA has posed approximately 100-150 questions every year to research teams partaking in its ACE forecasting tournament on topics like the Syrian civil war, the constancy of the Eurozone and Sino-Japanese relations since 2011. Every research team was obliged to collect individual forecasts coming from many forecasters online and to produce daily collective forecasts that allocate sensible probabilities to potential outcomes.
The Good Judgment Project came out as the evident winner and the Good Judgment Project forecasters have established the capability to produce more right forecasts that have surpassed even a few of the most positive approximation at the start of the tournament. The supplementary graphic shows the calculation from three GJP forecasting techniques on a up to date question about whether the first round of chemical weapons inspections in Syria would be completed before Dec. 1.
Not often carry out nuclear industry executives and hardline activists who be against them agree on anything.
Mutually the two hates the thought of continuing to stockpile highly radioactive waste the reactor cores of nuclear power plants on the site of each power-generating station.
An hour-long hearing held December 2, 2013 drew almost 200 people from Ohio and Michigan to the Hilton Garden Inn in Perrysburg’s Levis Commons was a reminder that both sides are still far apart on what the government’s next step should be.
Although it would mean putting up with the waste decades longer than expected, industry and trade unions eventually want a single, national repository. Failure to develop a solution is reason enough to shut down the industry; this is the antinuclear activists claim to the government.
Nuclear power provides 20 percent of America’s electricity.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the government agency that oversees the nuclear industry, learned a lot of information, the 11th stop on the agency’s 12-city tour in which it ought to do just that: Get a cross section of opinions. As an answer to the government’s decision to unfinished plans for a national repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, the NRC has been asking Americans about their thoughts regarding the agency’s proposed “waste confidence” rule and its affiliated environmental impact statement,.
As a consequence, the NRC is inquiring what the public’s thoughts concerning leaving the waste where it is, at least for the time being.
Britain has more than 10,000 millionaires from among 2.72 million Muslims contributing 31 billion pounds or Rs 3.0 trillion to its economy, says a report.
‘The Muslim Pound - How Muslims Add Value to Britain’s Prosperity’ was released by the Muslim Council of Britain ahead of the just-concluded 9th World Islamic Economic Forum Meet 2013 in London, one report says.
Five decades on, there are more than 10,000 millionaires and thousands of others are engaged in higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations.
Nearly 2.8 million Muslims in the UK contribute over 31 billion pounds to its economy and wield a spending power of 20.5 billion pounds, a report said this November.
A paper from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said from coffee houses in Elizabethan London, to curry houses in modern day Britain, thousands of Muslim-owned businesses have made a significant contribution to the UK economy and by extension, the cultural life of Britain.
The report said there are some 2.78 million Muslims in Britain, contributing over 31 billion pounds to the economy. There is an anticipated 10,000 Muslim millionaires in the UK with liquid assets of more than 3.6 billion pounds, with more than a dozen British Muslims listed in the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List of the most affluent in the UK.
In London alone, there are over 13,400 Muslim-owned businesses in London creating more than 70,000 jobs, the paper said.
The report was published to highlight Muslims’ growing contribution to the UK and to mark the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) went to London this month, the online portal Huffington Post UK reported.
The MCB report comes as Prime Minister David Cameron is set to unveil a new Islamic index on the London Stock Exchange. The move, as expected to be worth 1.3 trillion pounds next year, marks the capital’s significance as a global centre for Islamic finance.
The city will be the first non-Muslim city to host the World Islamic Economic Forum.
"I welcome the effort of the British Muslim community in bringing the World Islamic Economic Forum to London. My have worked with the Muslim Council of Britain to bring this Forum to London, who has been a key delegation at World Islamic Economic Forum since its inception," said London’s Mayor Boris Johnson.
The MCB is a national representative Muslim umbrella body with over 300 affiliated national, regional and local organizations, mosques, charities and schools.
Many are the references in the speeches of US Presidents about the need to “lead the world”, an arrogant and intrusive approach from those elected by a percentage of their own people and nobody else. Yet today, what has America’s “leadership” led to, where has it led the USA and its allies, what is its standing in the hearts and minds of the international community?
The Helsinki Final Act, or Helsinki Declaration, of 1975, was perhaps the visible face of the stance of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, looking for friendly relations with the West while it brought generations and millions of oppressed persons education, healthcare and decent public services, freeing them from the yoke of imperialist tyranny.
By 1989, the USSR was spending on average 250 billion dollars - a quarter of a trillion USD - on development projects overseas, implementing policies which guaranteed the right to basic services in countries where imperialism and colonialist policies had syphoned off the resources, placing corrupt political figures in power so as to guarantee the one-way direction of resource flow - outwards.
Scroll back seventy years, when the Russian Revolution was for the first time bringing backward societies into the front line of industrial development, guaranteeing housing, for free, free public utilities, free or heavily subsidized communications, subsidized public transportation, free primary and secondary education, free higher education, free healthcare, free dental treatment, zero unemployment, safety on the streets, security of the State, social mobility, indexed pensions, guaranteed basic foodstuffs, leisure time activities, free sports facilities, free cultural facilities… and back then we could already see the true mettle of the west.
The psyche of the United States of America, its poodle-in-chief, the UK and in turn the ex-colonies of London, principally Australia and the sickening clique of sycophants which crawl around, licking Washington’s legs and feet - namely France and to varying degrees the NATO pack - is in essence Anglo-Saxonic, is based upon wanderlust, imposition of cultural values in a top-down, holier-than-thou approach which saw the same nations drawing lines on maps.