Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Worse than a low benefit-cost ratio

Environmental activists want the Supreme Court to rule that the EPA should extend its authority to CO2 emisssions in light of global warming fears. But is CO2 a "pollutant," as understood in the nation's air quality legislation?

Probably not for the simple reason that climate change (for whatever reason) has winners as well as losers.

Myron Ebel argues this in the Dec 25 Forbes ("Love Global Warming ... What's wrong with mild winters, anyway? ... For the elderly and infirm, warmer weather is healthier as well as more pleasant.").

Like the Copenhagen Consensus, this gets us to the economics of the issue. The costs of the Kyoto accord are known to be high and the benefits questionable.

But Ebel's common sense argument suggests that the benefits might be negative.