Posted by: Barry Bickmore | August 26, 2012

Is the Republican Party Anti-Science?

Friday I was on an Al Jazeera TV show called Inside Story Americas.  The topic was “Why do many Republicans distrust scientists?” You can watch the whole show here.

This was my first time on a show like this, so don’t expect greatness.  What I learned was:

1.  When you do a remote TV interview, you are supposed to stare at a spot just under the camera lens, and the camera guy keeps pointing urgently at that spot if your eyes wander.  It is VERY DIFFICULT to be animated when you are concentrating so hard on staring at a spot!

2. When there is a 2-second delay on the satellite uplink, you can actually hear an echo of yourself, which is very disconcerting.  It made me temporarily lose my train of thought a few times.

Anyway, it wasn’t exactly in my comfort zone, but I think more Republicans need to speak up and shove Uncle Fester (i.e., the Tea Party) back into the closet.

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Responses

  1. For those of us with broken soundcards… what was it you said?

  2. As I’m a TV director, Barry, I hope you’ll allow me the pleasure of giving a scientist some advice.

    1) Think of the lens looking at you as a couple of nice people sitting on a sofa at home. It’s not a lecture, so just relax and talk naturally in a warm, friendly and convincing voice.

    2) When they ask for ‘level’ (a few words spoken of speech to enable the engineer to adjust his knobs) try to talk at a normal speaking volume. The tendency is to respond at a volume that’s not your natural level.

    3) Before the recording you can ask to have the level in your ear piece adjusted to a volume that suits you. Ask for it to be turned down to a low level where it won’t interfere with what you’re saying. That way any echo will be less of a distraction.

    4) Practice! It’s easy to set up a home video camera in front of you at home and then ask someone to feed you questions (or use Skype). You’ll learn a huge amount by watching the recordings back.

    I have other suggestions but that will do for now. You have my email address if you want to contact me.

  3. Barry, could this distrust be caused more by religious beliefs rather than an individuals political persuasion?

    • I’ve seen people bring religion into it, but that doesn’t seem very common, in the case of climate change. The guys at Cornwall Alliance seem like they are bending over pretty far to get the Bible to say anything about it, so I just don’t think most people (even fundamentalists) would respond much to that approach.

      • On a similar vein there has been a study recently released in this neck of woods by Psychologist Prof Lewandowsky, with the sanctimonious title “NASA faked the moon landing – Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science”. It appears to link conspiracy theorists with climate denial (whatever that means).

        Finding a link between distrust of scientists along political lines is one thing, but to try and imply there is some sort of relationship between sceptics of CAGW and the nutters out there is certainly offensive.

        • It’s pretty mainstream among climate change contrarians to say that it’s a “hoax,” Colin. Quite a number of members of the US congress say that regularly. Is it really such a stretch to suppose there is “some sort of relationship” between conspiracy theorists and climate change contrarians?

          • Yes it certainly is. It’s not only a long bow to categorise individuals that believe CAGW as a hoax (regardless of how mainstream that is) as believers of all hoaxes, but then to lump sceptics in with this group also. Clearly the professor of the study has a barrow to push and thus proceeded to classify ‘climate change contrarians’ as rejecting science. Which is nonsense.

            • No, Colin, it isn’t nonsense. Look at the contrarians and what they accept and what they do NOT accept. You’ll find they reject a lot of science – and meticulously pick out the few papers that they think supports their position.

              Moreover, have you read Lewandowsky’s paper? Something tells me you have not, considering your sweeping (and false) claim about the paper.

            • Now look who’s making the sweeping claims now. I have actually so please let me know which false claim I have made?

            • Look, Colin. Lewandowsky didn’t say they ALL accept other conspiracy theories. He just said that a decent percentage of them did, and that percentage is greater than for people on the other side of the issue. Is this a big surprise for anyone?

            • Colin, Barry explained nicely the false claim you made. Will you apologize?

            • I accept I shouldn’t have stated “all hoaxes” but I stand by everything else I said. The ‘decent percentage” you refer to appears to be for “endorsement of free markets was
              highly predictive of rejection of climate science”. Can this also be said in regards to believing NASA faked the moon landing or the rejection of science?

              I note the survey was of >1,100 self-selected denizens of climate blogs. I could find any reference to which blogs these might be but the Professor seperates these into either “a pro-science
              science stance but with a diverse audience” or “skeptic-leaning”.

            • The free market thing isn’t as straightforward for moon landings, but I can say this. What kind of personality does it take to adopt a conspiracy theory? The conspiracy theorists I know very often adopt an extremely individualistic attitude, which allows them to blow off all the (for instance) astronauts and scientists and engineers who say they participated in the moon landings. And if a person is an extreme individualist in their thinking about moon landings, doesn’t it make sense that they would be individualists in their thinking about politics?

              Really, Lewandowsky’s results shouldn’t be the least bit surprising to anyone. Since his results are used basically to show that people adopt their views about climate change more because of ideology than scientific reasoning, and since this conclusion has been supported by any number of other studies, and since most people obviously aren’t in a position to really understand climate science, anyway… I don’t understand why anyone would have an aneurysm about it.

            • Remember that many conspiracy nutters are deadly afraid of “government”.

              Colin, you are aware of the caveats in the paper on the self-selection of the respondents?

            • Previously I meant I couldn’t find any refence, not could.

              I agree that most people adopt their views regarding the changing climate more on ideology than science, but to imply sceptics are a bunch of conspiracists that reject science is enough to give even those with hypotension an aneurysm. It appears his frustration regarding climate science as “a scientific debate where there is none” was mirrored in you 22 January 2012 post.

              Marco, without looking at the paper again I recall he admitted to a potentional bias associated with the sample but then hand waved it away.

            • Colin,

              Survey work is tough business. You do the best you can with the sampling, report possible sources of bias, and explain why you still think your results are meaningful. Readers can then decide for themselves how seriously to take the results. Lewandowsky did it all right.

            • The terminology Lewandowsky used throughout his study (not to mention the appalling title) I believe, exposes that he wasn’t dispassionate and clearly was biased in his methods and conclusion.
              But as you say, readers will no doubt decide what they can take from the study.

        • > to try and imply there is some sort of relationship between sceptics of CAGW and the nutters out there is certainly offensive.

          Offensive to the nutters, certainly. But if you want nonsense, then WUWT’s recent “the Antarctic Peninsula warming is due to the urban heat island” is a good example (http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/wuwt-follies/).

      • There is a huge amount of reasoning to assert that there is a genuine link between christian worship and climate denial.

        The big sticks I see used time and time again are:

        1) God said he won’t drown the world (ignoring that he never said he would stop us doing it), ergo climate science is anti-christian. Therefore must be fought.

        2) God gave us this world and we are powerless to destroy it, this is reserved for the Creator of All (therefore drastic climate change is impossible)

        3) God chose us, therefore as God’s Chosen, he would not let us die.

        Now you may propose that these are not led by christian morals but by a thirst for secular power. Except they are professing to be christian and professing being driven by their faith, just like every other. If the protestation is not to be trusted as indicator of the faith of someone, then there is no pointto the census saking people what faith they are and there is no data to show that there is a christian majority in the USA, since mere protestation of christian faith is not proof of being a christian.

        • Fundamentalist beliefs are definitely involved, but Colin asked whether they were MORE the source than politics. I guess if the question is about generic distrust of science, then maybe so, but if we’re talking about climate issues, I think politics is the 800 lb. gorilla.

          • I think that the difference is going to be impossible to discern. The GOP have welded themselves to fringe elements (presupposing incorrectly that volume meant numbers, one reason why Dems ignore the progressives, since they don’t scream and shout anywhere near as much), and fundamentalist screed of christianity has been persued for decades by GOP.

            Therefore anyone NOT toeing the xtian line will get canned by the same noisy few that the party is pandering to. Then again, by pandering to that noisy few, those noisy few will demand, and get, high office and stature within the party, and are being promoted BECAUSE they really do believe from their xtian fundamentalism beliefs that these words are true.

            Discenring the two is rather more difficult than the chicken and egg issue. At least there, neither party had anything to gain by muddying the issue.

            • I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Romney is a Mormon, after all, and most Evangelicals think we are pretty much Devil Spawn.

            • Well, you ARE!
              :-)

              It isn’t simple, but only because there aren’t any christians who actually bother with discerning between “true” christians and “fake”. Unless it comes to denying Hitler was a Christian (As a Lutherian, he counts, as much as any count when it comes to claims that America is a “Christian Country” with X% christians: no segregation between incompatible sects there!).

              Until the christians out the idiots and (from their POV) fake christians, I’ll take the proponents at their word that they are christian when they spout anti-intellectual BS in a bid to gain politicial power.

              After all, we only have YOUR word for it that you’re “really” a Mormon!

            • Wow said:

              “there aren’t any christians who actually bother with discerning between “true” christians and ‘fake’.”

              Take a walk over to your local Southern Baptist church. Odds are you will find a wall full of tracts about whether Mormons are Christians, whether Roman Catholics are Christians, how Jehovah’s witnesses are a “cult”, how the Masons are a non-Christian cult, and so on.

            • “Take a walk over to your local Southern Baptist church”

              Oh, they’ll do it amongs themselves. Always have and always will.

              But the Southern Baptist Church will insist that the USA is a Christian Country because of all the christians in it. And in counting those christians, they’ll include all these other “not christians”. Likewise the Mormons, RCC, JW’s and all the others.

        • “There is a huge amount of reasoning to assert that there is a genuine link between christian worship and climate denial.”

          And there is a huge amount of reasoning to assert that there is a genuine link between pagan earth-god worship and climate alarmism as well.

          cheers

  4. Thanks you for this. We need more conservatives who accept mainstream climate science to speak out. I am quite convinced that until we get a significant percentage of conservatives willing to at least admit there exists a real problem, proper solutions will remain mostly out of reach and certainly suboptimal.

    I am wondering what you think would be an acceptable conservative solution. Here is my suggestion shamelessly stolen from Forbes:
    http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2008/0324/035.html

    • I favor a gradually ramped carbon tax, but the question is what to do with all that revenue. On the one hand, we could make it “revenue neutral” by using it to replace income and payroll taxes, but that would clearly favor the rich. On the other hand, we could hand out the money in dividends to citizens, as suggested by Citizens Climate Lobby, which would amount to an ENORMOUS wealth transfer. I think something in between might be acceptable enough for most people to swallow.

      • Would the dividend approach (which I think Hansen also supports) be an enormous transfer of wealth? One of the major criticisms of consumption taxes is that they tend to be regressive. I think the same would apply to a carbon tax since generally the poor pay a greater percentage of their income on fossil fuels (gas, heating and electric).

        But the nice thing about committing to a carbon tax that is revenue neutral (which I support) is that the debates of how much to price carbon and how to refund the tax money can, at least theoretically, be separated, and even tweaked or radically changed if a political party gets voted out.

        Hypothetically, lest assume that both Democrats and Republicans decided that this was sensible policy. Obama could set up his tax scheme to be incredibly progressive, hitting the rich hard while giving back most of the money to lower income families. If Romney were to win the election he could change the tax refunds so the favour the rich and corporations. But the gradually rising price for emissions would stay intact… well I can dream can’t I?

        • “generally the poor pay a greater percentage of their income on fossil fuels (gas, heating and electric).”

          Very few poor take international flights. Food is one of the more CO2-light products and most of the high-energy products are voluntary.

          Power utilities will get cheaper electricity from renewable sources with a carbon tax in place, therefore the poor will hunt for the cheapest source and avoid the tax there too. Rich people with huge cars for performance use a lot more petrol than the small runabout the poor person can afford.

          Flights to the Carribean will be more expensive. But that’s not a big thing for the 99%, is it?

          • Rich people do use more fossil fuels than poorer people, but as a percentage of their income the rich generally spend less.

            Generally consumption falls as a percentage of income.

            Think of this example. Rich people tend to eat more expensive food. Often times much more expensive. Yet the amount they spend on food is a smaller percentage of their income, than those with a lower income. The same applies to fossil fuels.

            • That’s true of any scheme, Dan.

              Even if you have progressive taxes, the rich can afford accountants to avoid taxes. Unless every penny above a living wage is taxed 100%, the rich will be able to do better than the poor at saving money.

              Think of an example. Rich people tend to earn more, sometimes excessively more. Therefore they spend less.

              If you REALLY want to stop rich people freeloading, 100% inheritance tax is the way to go. Why hoard money if the government is going to take it? So why not spend your money improving your childnren’s life and prospects NOW, while your alive, rather than wait until you’re dead to give them the benefits?

              But in the case of a carbon tax, eventually it will go to 0% because nobody is using power sources that require carbon intense waste.

              Any attempt to make it revenue neutral will, if it works, be nullified by having ZERO receipts to spend on that other activity.

              But guess what? Accountatns will find out how to get that moneyoff the system even when there are no receipts to pay for them.

              Simplest is just tax it.

              What you could do is have the government guarantee to buy renewable power generators, ensuring that the solar panel generators get sold to SOMEONE. And employing people otherwise on the dole.

            • Wow said:

              “If you REALLY want to stop rich people freeloading, 100% inheritance tax is the way to go.”

              I think Dan is trying to struggle with the question of what mitigation efforts might actually have a snowball’s chance in hell to be implemented. ;-)

            • Barry is right:)

              If you REALLY want to stop rich people freeloading

              Honestly I see that as a completely separate issue. Implementing a policy t reduce GHG emissions is enough of challenge so I think we should focus on that.

              We all bring political baggage to the table (we can’t help it) but lets the fight over baggage prevent us from doing something about the climate. Lets separate the issues

            • Well it ought to pass easily.

              The GOP is vehemently for personal responsibilty and completely against having inherited royalty leading them. Therefore merely inheriting money doesn’t do a damn thing to show how excellent a person you are.

              You don’t HAVE to give it to the government, just sell it off before you die.

              And this ought ot allow income taxes to drop precipitously because the government makes money off the moving about of money (much like bankers and investors in the stock do).

              Just look at Paris Hilton. Did SHE earn her money? Any of it?

              However, the proposition was to show how “Oh, the rich will void taxes” is, frankly a load of BS. They’ll avoid taxes or have to pay less tax

              But if you taked 100% inheritances then you wouldn’t horde and the rich would spend a lot of their money just so their kids get the benefit of it rather than the government. It’s the ONLY tax that won’t impact the rich less than the poor.

              And by refusing to just tax carbon and not bother about revenue neutral you’re making perfect the enemy of good.

            • In common GOP parlance, the inheritance tax is called “The Death Tax”. That should give you some idea how popular it is. The main objection is that this would destroy the “family business” and the “family farm”, which are sacrosanct American institutions. If you can’t build something to give to your kids, what incentive do you have for risk-taking and so on? If you’re being serious, Wow, you really don’t get how conservatives think.

              The same kind of thing happened with Ronald Numbers on the Al Jazeera show I linked. I said something about how Republicans tend to want less government control, which can lead to us denying the existence of or downplaying problems like climate change, but then Numbers popped in and said that Republicans are the ones who want to control women’s lives by outlawing abortion. I replied that this was a bad example, because that involves philosophical questions such as whether an unborn baby is a person that deserves some protection under the Constitution, and if so, how to balance that with the mother’s rights. How hard is it to understand that the ideal of small government doesn’t trump every other consideration?

              As I’ve said time and again, we Republicans have a problem with wackjobbery. However, as Jon Haidt (U. of Virginia) has shown, conservatives are actually more sophisticated than liberals at “moral reasoning”. E.g., he found that liberals tended not to be able to understand the moral reasoning of conservatives, but conservatives could easily understand the moral reasoning of liberals.

              http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

            • You hand over your “family business” to your family before you die.

              The family farm becomes the property of the child who will take it over in the inheritance. Tax will be paid on any NET benefit in the transfer, as it would if it were gifted.

              But look at Paris Hilton again. She inherited the family business, but she isn’t running it.

              Conservatives only *think* they understand liberal reasoning.

              Case in point, this discussion was merely about the insistence that any tax that wasn’t revenue neutral would hit the poor hardest and the rich hardly at all. But if that is your issue with taxes, then inheritance tax is entirely the answer. IT CANNOT BE AVOIDED./ Everyone dies and it’s kind of obvious that it’s happened.

              By denying the utility or claiming it is unworkable entirely just goes to show that the issue isn’t really all that much about the ability of the rich to avoid the impacts.

              More likely to be about the facts that are unwelcome. I.e. this myth about all taxes should be revenue neutal.

              Rubbish I say.

      • Revenue from the Australian carbon tax as it stands now is mostly paid out in the form of cash handouts. There has been some shuffling of personal income taxes but mostly it is paid to low income families, pensioners and students. Interestingly there is an analysis in the Australian Financial Review today that unfortunately predicts a large deficit due to the carbon tax in the forward estimates.

        • I admit to not being very knowledgeable of the Citizens Climate Lobby’s proposal, I assumed it was similar to what Hansen proposes where everyone regardless of income would receive the same dividend.

          Here in BC we have a compromise system. Our Carbon tax gives rebates to people with low income while lowering income and corporate tax rates. It works well enough, but of course people complain (as they always will) that either more money should go to reducing income/corporate taxes or more should be rebated to those with low incomes.

        • BTW no large deficits are predicted for BC. If the Carbon tax is revenue neutral then it really shouldn’t have any effect on government revenues.

          The appropriate overall level of taxation is a separate issue, unrelated to revenue neutral tax polices

        • Colin, do you have a link to that AFR article? I can only find an article that states there will be a carbon tax shortfall (amongst others), which is not the same thing as a deficit due to the carbon tax. A tax shortfall means that expected tax income is not reached.

          • It is probably the same article.

            http://afr.com/p/national/labor_bn_budget_blowout_oRUlSZkFhd65YJFFTzti9N

            The projected shortfall DOES result in a budget deficit as the carbon tax was initially designed to be revenue neutral but with carbon permits now being linked to EU permits from 2015 the tax generated has been lowered, by this analysis anyway. Mind you, relying on forecasts of any nature into the future should be viewed with sufficient levels of uncertainty in mind.

            The folly of the latest government move has been echoed in this article yesterday also.

            http://afr.com/p/national/carbon_link_to_eu_mad_mckibbin_kdDDJGcAi0wSsCKNYSxw3H

          • Yes, the shortfall results in a budget deficit. But that’s not “because of the carbon tax”, but because of apparently incorrect assumptions about the tax income. If you plan to spend 500 million from expected tax income, and that tax income is actually lower, you have a shortfall. But then the deficit is not because of the tax, but because you overestimated the tax income. If there had been no tax, the deficit would be even larger.

            Perhaps I am arguing semantics here, but to me your comment suggested that without the tax there would not be a deficit.

      • Oh I forgot one important benefit of a revenue neutral carbon tax that should at least in theory appeal to conservatives: it gives the individual some control over how much taxes they ultimately pay.

        Right now if if you want to pay less taxes, you options are basically to make less income (since that is what is taxed)

        But if we shift income taxes to carbon taxes then in order to pay less taxes all you have to do is find a way to reduce your emissions (since that is what is taxed).

        • “it gives the individual some control over how much taxes they ultimately pay.”

          Since you’re burning fossil fuels for the heat and electricity and NOT for the carbon dioxide, even if it’s not revenue neutral, you can STILL have control over how much tax you ultimately pay: stop using fossil fuels to produce heat and light. Burning stuff for that is very cro-magnon.

        • That’s why I said replacing income taxes with a carbon tax would favor the rich. They are more able to switch off fossil fuels, and thus lower their taxes.

          • Well, they are a market to pander to the whims of. Electric luxury sedans as opposed to luxury petrol sedans.

            Or not fly to Barbados three times a year.

            At the end of it all, a carbon tax will be zero because nobody will be bothering with any products that accrue it.

            The rich are no more able to switch of the fuels for lighting or heating than the poor, unless you’re talking about home-build solar power, so I don’t see that being a problem. Burning coal in a power station produces as much CO2 for the electrons going to a toff’s home as it does to a pleb’s.

          • Good point. Though if they switch off of fossil fuels before alternatives become cheaper then their tax rate goes down but the amount of money they “keep in their pocket” might not since they are paying more for alternative goods and services. But this would not be an easy distinction to make.

            This does have the added benefit of spurring the market for alternatives before they become economically competitive.

            Another wrinkle is that predicting the behaviour of the rich (especially the ultra rich) can be particularly hard since, if they want, they can resist change, for longer than most people since they can afford to pay they ever increasing carbon tax.

            All of this means that the methods required to maintain revenue neutrality will likely have to be tweaked over time.

            • And each tweak will cost.

              Given the endpoint is that there is nothing to tax, why bother?

              With full support behind it, we can remove fossil fuels from 90% of our products in less than 25 years, no problem, without hampering the economy in the least. If we’re willing to go “war economy” over it, less than 15.

            • Keep in mind that revenue collected by a gradually increasing carbon tax isn’t expected to decline for decades (according to Mark Jaccard who’s work really influenced my on this issue)

              The simple reason to maintain revenue neutrality because without refunding the money back to the taxpayers the tax burden will be incredibly high. It would represent a massive tax hike, which (aside from the fact that it would impose a real hardship on many) would make it unpopular and thus an easy for politicians to oppose.

              The nice thing about revenue neutrality is that it avoids the never-ending argument about what the ‘correct’ level of taxation is.

            • As far as I can tell, the reason for that lack of decrease is because nobody thinks the taxes will be high enough to work, Dan.

              And revenue neutral won’t IMO avoid the “what’s the correct level?” argument. At best it will have it argue that the tax is being spent on the wrong things or going to the wrong people. E.g. Al Gore has a carbon neutral home/office. He’d therefore get the cashback and not pay the tax.

              Do you seriously believe that this WON’T cause millions to claim this is all a scam to make the liberal elites wealthy at the expense of the poor, hard-working billionires?

            • Gore is carbon neutral only because of offsets, I haven’t yet seen a carbon tax proposal that refunds people money for buying offsets. In fact that sounds like a terrible idea.

              And revenue neutral won’t IMO avoid the “what’s the correct level?” argument.

              I don’t understand. The carbon tax will have no effect on the level of taxation. Your second point is correct though there is no escaping the fact that people will argue about how to refund the money. Like I said in another comment this makes the tax compatible with both left and right. The Right can use the carbon tax to implement a flatter tax structure, while the left can use it to implement a more progressive one. But from a perspective of dealing climate change this doesn’t matter

            • Incorrect, Dan.

              He has solar PV and solar heating, building codes that reduce power and a small section of carbon offsets, most of which is purchasing from a carbon neutral energy supplier.

              Go look at the application for the building. It details exactly what is done.

              “I don’t understand.The carbon tax will have no effect on the level of taxation”

              You don’t understand the denier and rightwing community (the noisy ones, anyway). What do they ALWAYS harp on about Al Gore’s purpose for pushing this? He gets money for investing in green tech, which gain subsidy from the taxpayer.

              If Al Gore gets money from the government on a green tax neutrality kickback, then they will whine, bitch and moan like you’ve never heard before.

            • Re: Gore. There is much more than just his house. Obviously it is energy efficient, but it isn’t neutral without offsets.

              Look the denier crowd will always find something to complain about. But we can increase the likelihood of passing something if we understand that the conservative viewpoint is a valid one and propose policies consistent with it.

              Too many people consider themselves conservative to have any hope in doing it any other way

            • The only reason why it isn’t carbon neutral without offsets run down to two things, both failures of the market:

              1) It’s still VERY hard to get energy from a zero-rate supplier
              2) Aircraft still are very heavy on the CO2

              My point in bringing this up is that, like you, it’s pointless to go “well, there will be people whining about that”. Except you go about how a handout making it revenue neutral should be done despite this.

              I’m taking it one step earlier: the taxation shouldn’t be made tax neutral just because otherwise people would whinge about it.

      • Why bother making it revenue neutral?

        1) this is almost entirely voluntary. If you have a big debt to this tax, then you are using a lot more than average and you can remove your burden by SPENDING LESS ON IT.

        2) If the tax works, there will be less collected by the very act of people avoiding paying by reducing their use of ancient technology to produce power. Eventually, zero tax will be attained. So why complicate matters and produce potential loopholes for something that is self-limiting?

        • The main reason to make it revenue neutral is to make it more politically palatable, and separate it from the contentious issue of what the tax rate should be.

          The other reason is that for the carbon tax to be effective it cannot be small. This would represent an incredible tax burden for many people (especially for people with lower income) if it weren’t revenue neutral.

          Mark Jaccard (who advised the BC government in regards to their carbon tax) has modeled the expected revenue collected by a gradually rising carbon tax. He finds that after a few years of growth revenue flat-lines as people begin switching away from fossil fuels. But the revenue doesn’t decline for decades since every year the carbon tax goes up.

          Eventually, after decades, the revenue collected will begin to drop and this will present governments with a challenge, do they allow government revenues to fall, or do they increase taxes elsewhere to make up for the lack of revenue from the carbon tax. But this would be decades away and is a small problem comparedto deal with compared with unmitigated emissions.

          • Create jobs with it.

            Enforce the government to do what the rightwing insist will be done if the taxes were not taken.

            Create jobs.

            • Right-wingers (like me) tend to believe that most of the time the private sector is better at creating jobs, better at getting rid of jobs that are an inefficient use of resources, and so on. So while your suggestion is reasonable, a lot of people still won’t want to go that direction.

            • I agree with Barry. Governments shouldn’t try to create jobs, but instead provide an environment where the private sector does that. Governments, while providing public goods they are inherently wasteful.

            • SMEs are better at creating jobs (though 90% of such startup ventures fail even though the government has no hand in it). But the rich people ARE NOT job creators. They hoard or export the wealth not spend it in the country or invest in local companies.

              And why shouldn’t government create jobs? Isn’t that what you want all that money to the rich people to be left with after tax cuts to do?

              And, in this case, it would be to make the renewable infrastructure. ust like the roadbuilding that got the USA out of the last big inter-war crash.

              When there’s a recession, rich people hoard their wealth. Government don’t.

            • Rich people don’t “hoard” their wealth, e.g., as bars of gold in the safe in their basement or cash under the mattress. At the very least they put it in a bank account or mutual fund, where it is INVESTED in companies and government bonds, or whatever.

              When the government goes around “creating jobs” for the sake of creating jobs, well, maybe that’s not such a bad idea to smooth out a recession. But then what? Do we keep those jobs even after the recession is over? Experience shows that it’s easy for the government to start something, but harder to get rid of it.

              I’m not a huge Romney fan, but this is why many of the critiques of his tenure at Bain annoy me. They bought out troubled companies, streamlined them, and tried to make them profitable. Sometimes they were spectacularly successful, and sometimes they failed. When they failed, they didn’t waste a bunch of capital trying to hold onto the failures because they were boo-hooing about all the lost jobs. Why? Because they realized that if you try to put your money into businesses that will succeed, you will create more jobs than you destroy when you let a failing business fail.

            • Yes they do.

              If it’s invested in banks, it is loaned out at a higher rate to poorer people (who by definition don’t have cash). That means that the poorer people pay more for the goods than if they had cash, and some of that difference goes to the person who had all that cash.

              The money trickles UP.

              It’s pretty obvious that this is the REALITY when you look at how the money gap between rich and poor increased time and time again.

              The tax cuts fromBush saw investement ABROAD soar. This means a tax drain from the country’s wealthy and no increase in money turnaround in that country.

              Again, hoarding. You don’t think they invested at a loss, do you?

            • You sound like the Medieval Christians who despised the Jews for money lending, but found it very convenient to use their services, anyway. Yes, Wow, I’m saying that you are an anti-Semite, and probably a Nazi. Just kidding. ;-) I am reading Ivanhoe, so I have Medieval money-lending Jews on the mind.

              Anyway, I don’t have a problem with international investment. Where would we be without Chinese investment?!! I also don’t have a problem with lending money and charging interest. Many a business owner got their start that way, and personally, I would rather pay some interest so I can own a house than wait till I have the cash to buy one. And the fact that people like me can buy a house makes it so people like construction workers can have jobs and… buy more houses. The system works ok, until you loosen the purse strings to the extent that you are loaning money to people who can’t possibly repay it.

            • Barry, the point is that the jobs are created abroad, paid for in that country.

              And those people can’t afford to buy the product, since they don’t get paid enough (which is why the company is going there for the work).

              Henry Ford knew what was going on.

              How come nobody on the right (which is Far right) can?

            • In effect, the American Taxpayer is paying for foreign jobs to be created.

              If your government kept the tax, the jobs would be created in the same country as the taxpayers are paying it.

              And, given the normal whinging about how much money is being spent on the third world in aid, I don’t think there’s much support for foreign investment.

              If they’d been presented with the facts as are correct from the same viewpoint.

            • Looks like we need to attend a lecture from Milton Friedman.

      • “..On the one hand, we could make it “revenue neutral”

        Revenue neutral, are you kidding me? There is no reason for a government to introduce a tax that is revenue neutral, no government does this, it is not worth the work. Governments tell you its revenue neutral but within few years later the truth comes out, its not neutral it never was. Actually thinking such a thing demonstrates that you have the life experience of a 10 year old. Gad you should be ashamed.

        • “no government does this’

          sigh, I suppose you are right:
          “For the 2011/12 fiscal year, the tax reductions are expected to return $192 million more to taxpayers than the amount of carbon tax paid.”
          http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/tbs/tp/climate/A2.htm

          perhaps that was not what you meant?.

          • But you do realise klem is a denier. He’s exactly the people who whine about a revenue neutral tax.

            • Not sure what you are getting at. Presumably he’d whine even louder if it wasn’t revenue neutral and instead represented one of the largest ever tax increases.

            • No, deniers only have one level of whine.

              Max.

  5. On the subject of Global Warming As Religion (GWAR) – Michael Svoboda as an excellent piece on the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.
    http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2012/08/skeptical-uses-of-religion-in-debate-on-climate-change/

    My own personal run-ins with retired Vicar Philip Foster and very much unretired Philip Foster (no relation) Bishop of Chester (and Trustee of the GWPF), is that fake scepticism driven by theological prejudice has three elements to it:
    – Ecological scarcity is not possible because the Bible says God has made abundant provision for humans;
    – Over-population can’t happen because we have been commanded to go forth and multiply; and
    – We cannot trash the planet because God won’t let us.
    I have suggested to him that the history of the Jews as set out in the Old Testament – and indeed the entire history of human civilisation – suggests he may be wrong about these things. Sadly, Rev. Foster doesn’t see it that way…
    For more on this (and for a laugh) see:
    http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/the-three-monkeys-monckton-foster-and-peiser/

    • Sorry for the potentially-confusing typing errors:
      “…Svoboda has a piece…”
      “…unretired Peter…”

    • Aye, the only sensible god that could exist and still be interested in humanity has to be one that gives us only consequences. If you kill the planet, you’ve killed the planet and that’s the end of it.

      • Revelation 11:18

        “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”

        • Odd how the rapturists forget that bit, innit :-/

        • I guess what I’m saying here is that the religion is saying whatever the person wants it to say. The person just edits out the bits they don’t like.

          Which is how everyone else does their morality.

          It also lets you decide who is inherently bad or good based on the bits of the bible they remember…

          • Gee, I think I agree with Wow on something.

  6. [...] 2012/08/26: BBickmore: Is the Republican Party Anti-Science? [...]

  7. Just had a thought about cameramen and pointing.

    Why don’t they put a fake face at the spot you’re supposed to talk to? Give the person something to look at that blends into the standard human thought processes.

    Do you reckon that would have made things easier? I.e. I think that you wouldn’t have to concentrate on looking at a spot if there were some pseudo-real interviewer at that spot.

    • Good idea. Next time I’ll bring a cutout of Alfred E. Newman’s face. ;-)

      • That’s Mad.

      • ‘course it could backfire if they animate the mouth… You’d be trying not to giggle…

  8. Something like this?

  9. If CO2 is plant food, how come with all this extra CO2 in the air, the USA is having a dramatic shortfall in food production, despite increasing their planted area?

    • Careful or you will end up sounding like a denier.

      • How?

        Deniers never as *if* CO2 is a plant food. They DEMAND it is.

        But I guess you disagree with those who claim CO2 is plant food, then, right?

        • Well I do look forward to any evidence (empirical of course) that suggests CO2 isn’t beneficial to plants that you are able to provide.

    • CO2 is not a bottleneck for plant growth; it never has been as far as I am aware. The bottlenecks are water, nitrate and phosphate.

      • Doesn’t stop Lord Munchkin saying that it’s a plant food, though.

  10. Coming a bit late to this, but the way the question was phrased was useful, not the usual monkey poo.


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