A Free-Market Energy Blog


Posts from December 0

Climate Mitigation: Costs versus Benefits (reassessing Robert Frank’s call for policy action)

By Robert Murphy -- March 15, 2010

In a recent New York Times article, economist Robert H. Frank–“The Economic Naturalist”–argues that fighting global warming through government intervention entails a small cost and promises a large benefit. Yet to cast serious doubts on his claim, all we need do is quote from U.S. government and IPCC reports. We find that even in a textbook implementation, it’s not obvious that government mitigation efforts deliver net benefits.

Of course in the real world, if the politicians and/or EPA starts intervening in the energy sector, their actions will be far from the economist’s theoretical ideal. Then the case for such policy activism falls apart.

Frank’s Pros/Cons of Intervention

Frank’s opening paragraphs nicely summarize his views on climate policy:

FORECASTS involving climate change are highly uncertain, denialists assert — a point that climate researchers themselves readily concede.