Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What would 'Party X' do about the environment? - PART 5: A very special carbon tax

Continuing this serialisation based on my 'Free Radical' article 'Environmental Judo' - seven environmental policies that a genuine opposition party could adopt if they were serious about spontaneously shrinking the state, without any new coercion along the way.

Today, what I like to ironically my 'Carbon Tax Plan.''

5. The 'Carbon Tax Plan'

We've all heard the litany: We’re all gonna die. We’re all gonna die because of man-made global warming. We "need" a carbon tax, urgently, to stop runaway global warming.

Really? How about a show of hands?
  • Do we really have "runaway global warming" anywhere but in computer models?
  • Do we really need a carbon tax to stop those nasty emissions?
Interesting. Well, I’m proposing something to bring honesty to warmist science and warmist politics. Yes, it's a carbon tax. A very special carbon tax. A carbon tax that is a substitute for other taxes (yes, a condition of our support would be the removal of another tax. Company tax for example. Or income taxes. Or those eco-untaxes I suggested earlier.)

What I’m actually suggesting is a proposal first put forward by Canadian Ross McKitrick, who was the co-debunker with Steve McIntyre of the IPCC’s infamous ‘Hockey Stick: the proposal is for a carbon tax whose rate is linked to actual global temperatures – specifically, it would be linked to the temperature of the tropical troposphere, which is precisely where the IPCC's science says the primary CO2 "fingerprint" is to be found.

Yes, it’s a new tax, of sorts, but the proposal has a number of advantages, not least the diminution of one tax which is about to be imposed and the removal of another. Most of the advantages consist of focussing minds on the fact that proposals by the world's politicians to limit carbon emissions by fifty percent are blanket policies to strangle industry … to say nothing of what Al Bore’s proposed emission cuts of ninety percent would so.

This proposal should really focus minds on what warmists really want: do they want to attack what they say is the real problem, or do they just want to shackle and shut down industry; do they really want "action” to fix what they say is a real problem, or do they just want government action to ban private action.

It's crucially important to keep industry free of the warmists' political shackles, and this unique carbon tax offers the prospect of doing that in the warmists' name.

Listen up:
  • First, it calls the bluff of warmists. If you really believe that temperatures are going to rise precipitately, then how could you reasonably oppose it -- surely, from the warmist point of view, that's a one-way bet, right?
  • Second, it offers a real fiscal bonus. If the globe warms we pony up, true, (but remember this is offset by the removal of another tax). But what happens if the globe cools as many solar researchers expect? That’s right. If the globe cools, we all get a refund. “If models are right, then the tax would go up a lot,” [points out economist Geoffrey Plauche], “but on the other hand, if the tropical troposphere temperatures continue to decline as they have since 2002, then the tax would go negative and turn into a subsidy on carbon emissions. Of course, the alarmists are convinced this won't happen so it shouldn't be an obstacle to them endorsing the tax...” Like I say, let’s use this to call their bluff.
  • But that’s not all. With carbon taxes linked to global temperature, people would begin to really focus on the actual measurements of global warming – on how the measurements are produced, what they actual temperatures are, and how closely (if at all) they correspond with predicted temperatures. They might notice too that the methods by which the surface temperatures are presently produced are seriously shonky, but considered “good enough for government work.” And they might even notice that there has been no warming since 1998.
  • There will be serious attention paid to this ongoing temperature figure, so much so that we might even see warmists forced to admit there has been no warming since 1998. We might expect to see the measurement recorded at the Stock Exchange, and shown on the news each night right after the Dow Jones and the Nikkei, and for the same reason those figures are reported, and with the same pressures regarding accuracy and accountability.
  • In a further wrinkle suggested by economist Arnold Kling and others, we would expect there to develop a futures market in the temperature indicator, with taxes, profits and predictions tied to the futures price in a way that rewards accurate forecasting instead of political horse-trading.
  • Furthermore, all those computer models that predict warming (and since 1998 that’s the only place we actually see any warming) – all those models would be under much closer scrutiny. And as Climate Science Coalition convenor Owen McShane points out, we’d expect to see the rise of real, non-government, climate experts to make real non-government sponsored predictions about where troposphere temperature is going, Those whose "predetermination and bias" always encourages them to predict "warmer" would soon lose their clients and their track record would be there for all to see. No doubt too these experts would be listed in the same pages as the share market and similar "real" information. As Owen says, “Augie Auer would be thrilled.”
  • Finally, as I said before this idea was originally proposed by Ross McKitrick (the chap who helped debunk the bogus IPCC hockey stick) so it already has serious credibility, and has received significant international attention. No harm at all in using that spotlight to help promote more freedom here.
[Tomorrow, Part 6: A fishy story]
* * * * *
THE SERIES SO FAR:

INTRO: 'What Would Party X Do?'
PART 1: 'Eco Un-taxes
.'
Part 2: 'A Nuisance and a BOR.'
Part 3: 'Small Consents Tribunals'
Part 4: 'Privatisation: Iwi then Kiwi'


THE SERIES IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE DEVELOPED HERE:
'Transitions to Freedom: Shall We Kill Them in Their Beds?'

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