From Will Wilkinson:
Cheap energy is a main source of prosperity. The effort to make the cheapest sources of energy more expensive is, in effect, an effort to ensure that more people are made to suffer longer in poverty. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu’s openness to using tarrifs against countries like China as a “weapon” in the effort to achieve global climate policy coordination illustrates the clear and present danger climate alarmism poses to the welfare of the world’s poor. I’m simply unwilling to trade certain immediate harm to vulnerable people in exchange for extremely uncertain future benefits.
Indeed. I think it’s pretty incontrovertible that global warming is happening and is caused, at least in part, by humans. That’s what the climate scientists say, and they know what they’re talking about. When they talk about the human cost of climate change and the appropriate policy responses, however, they do not have any especial expertise. The cost of climate change will be a function of how wealthy people are. If people have the resources to move away from strongly affected areas and otherwise alter their behaviour to a changing environment, they will be fine. A sucessful attempt to lessen climate change (though I’m not convinced any is likely to be particularly effective) which slows the development of the poorest could very well increase the overall harm of global warming. Environmentalists often worry about the very fact of temperatures rising X degrees, when they should be worried about how this affects people.