"He's a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys; he may look dumb but that's just a disguise; he's a mastermind in the ways of espionage." Charlie Daniels, "Uneasy Rider" [update] Bob Murphy, Rob Bradley and the Austrian Road Not Taken on Climate by two fossil-fuels gunslingers - TT's Lost in Tokyo

[update] Bob Murphy, Rob Bradley and the Austrian Road Not Taken on Climate by two fossil-fuels gunslingers

[Update: I copy at bottom a follow-up exchange I had on Bob`s thread with another reader - radio silence from Bob.]

Bob Murphy has a new post up at his blog, "CBO Testimony Misleads on Cost of Cap-and-Trade", that draws attention to a new blog post at the Institute of Energy Research that Bob says he "had a lot to do with".

The IER post rightly criticizes some of the numbers that the Congressional Budget Office has released, but the IER is playing games itself.

I left the following note at Bob`s (now substantially goosed up for the benefit of readers):

TokyoTom said...

IER? Isn`t that the "free-market" blog that bans libertarians who are not on their pro-coal, pro-pollution wagon? [Oops, I confused this with Rob Bradley`s MasterResource blog; IER is different, in that IER is - much more clearly than MR - an active rent-seeking front for fossil fuel interests, which Exxon made clear last year when it publicly announced that it would no longer fund IER`s "unproductive", climate-skeptic position.]

But while we`re on the subject, let`s not forget:

- Austrians` fundamental objections to cost-benefit analysis;

- that the mining, transport and combustion of coal, in addition to whatever climate "cost" it might have to various people whose preferences can`t be measured, have very real and significant costs in terms of damage to persons and property;

- that federal law authorizes this (via the "Clean Air Act", surface mining laws and ownership of the TVA), and grandfathers the very worst midwestern utilities, the oldest 10% of which (41 or so) are  estimated to be responsible for 43% of the $62 billion in annual  damages (not including damages from harm to ecosystems, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, or climate change)(according to the latest NAS report on the indirect costs of fossil fuels);

- that our federal government and states own most of the coal deposits and are otherwise addicted to the royalty revenues and complicit in turning a blind eye to damages;

- the future "costs" that the IER analysis refers to (in 2050) are not discounted to present value;

- that alternative policies - such as

are never advanced, much less their costs weighed [that is, no attempt is ever made to engage opponents in good faith or to seek mutual gains by working to resolve underlying problems];

- the costs/consequences/risks and equities of "do-nothing" policies are hardly considered, and when so are heavily discounted;

- that deliberate "geo-engineering" holds no promise as a panacea, and itself is fraught with issues about statism, preferences, risks and liaibility;

- the need for investment in infrastructure and change in laws to adapt (and foster adaptation) to very real ongoing climate changes are never discussed; and

- no one at IER ever seems to question the unstated presumption that utilities and our transportation industries have somehow homesteaded an ownership right over the global atmosphere - or the massive role that our federal government and states play as coal and other energy resource owners), so that it`s perfectly okay to dismiss the preferences of those who have concerns at home [those "religious" nuts like Exxon, and our Academies of Science] and those abroad in the least developed countries that are most vulnerable to damages (much less to suggest how those injured should be aided).

In other words, those defending the status quo seem to have abandoned any Austrian training (or to have no familiarity with its concern for problem-solving and awareness that [as Block points out] common law protection of private property rights was hijacked a century ago, with massive pollution and rent-seeking problems being the result).

Someone ought to post a few of these thoughts over at IER; Rob Bradley somehow finds comments of this type over fundamental principles to be "ad hominem" arguments [of the kind that very quickly tested his patience and got me banned, without any word to his co-bloggers, who found my comments worthy of considered response].

Sure, we should fight over policy, but let`s not ignore principles or put our heads in the sand.

October 28, 2009 10:10 AM

*  From the NAS report:

Coal accounts for about half the electricity produced in the U.S.  In 2005 the total annual external damages from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter created by burning coal at 406 coal-fired power plants, which produce 95 percent of the nation's coal-generated electricity, were about $62 billion; these nonclimate damages average about 3.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kwh) of energy produced.  A relatively small number of plants -- 10 percent of the total number -- accounted for 43 percent of the damages.  By 2030, nonclimate damages are estimated to fall to 1.7 cents per kwh.


Supporters of cap and trade always turn to the argument that opponents are burying their heads in the sand. It's not true. This legislation won't do anything to help the environment. It is merely a front so that the administration and the Democrats can say they did "something." We don't need legislation that is going to cost every single American household and won't even be able to achieve its stated goals. Write your Congressmen at http://dontcapandtradeourjobs.net/?tr15.

Angel, you`re missing my higher -level poinht, which is that IER is rather apparently UNINTERESTED in engaging productively or on a principled basis on this issue; rather, they are simply sniping (though they make excellent points) at the cap-and-traders).

Though, of course, from the view of those financing them, this form of engagement may very well be "productive", if it delays any action that will lower returns to coal, rail or utility investors.

What`s regrettable is that this obfuscation, which has been going on for decades, is what is likely to saddle us with extremely costly, porky and ineffective "climate change" policies.

Published Thu, Oct 29 2009 12:14 AM by TokyoTom


# The Road Not Taken II: Austrians strive for a self-comforting irrelevancy on climate change, the greatest commons problem / rent-seeking game of our age

Friday, October 30, 2009 3:14 AM by TT`s Lost in Tokyo

# The Road Not Taken V: Libertarian hatred of misanthropic "watermelons" and the productive love of aloof ad-homs

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 11:55 PM by TT`s Lost in Tokyo

I copy below a comment I just left at Stephan Kinsella `s post on the main LvMI Blog, " Physicist