Why people dislike economists, installment #421

I will ignore the appalling possibility that, by reducing congestion, using your car less will encourage others to use theirs more, thus wiping out any benefit from your action.  This kind of economist’s logic creates inertia and despair.

That is from Chris Goodall’s How to Live a Low-Carbon Life: The Individual’s Guide to Stopping Climate Change.  Just imagine, when it comes to the number of players in this game, the guy doesn’t mention whether the appropriate model should use a countable or a non-countable infinity.  Often it makes a big difference for the result.

I had promised to look at the author’s claim that walking and eating meat (to replenish the lost energy) can be less carbon-friendly than driving a car; his analysis does offer the appropriate qualifiers.  The author also argues that flying is about the least carbon-friendly thing you can do.

This book "taught" me that a carbon tax will never be very popular with the hard-core environmental movement.  Their core intuition is "It is wrong to pollute."  They are less interested in the message "It is OK to pollute as long as you pay the price," which is how a carbon tax sounds to them.  Goodall (pp.227-8) insists it is wrong to impose the costs of carbon emissions on the future, no matter what payment or offset you are making today.  In fact a high carbon tax would just show that quite a bit of environmental destruction was going on.  Quite consistently, he argues that we all simply have to stop flying.  Now.

He can mail back his Harvard MBA by boat. 

Here is the book’s web site.  Here is his blog.  Here is his carbon audit of Princes Charles.


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