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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Climate Media, Media Climate, and Cost-Benefit Analysis

Just as popular concerns about global warming are cooling, professional catastrophists and their handmaidens in the mainstream media are heating up the hysterics.

According to Julia A. Seymore, coverage of climate change in 2012 was as unbalanced as ever. For example, in a study for the Media Research Center, Seymore found that:

Back on July 10, ABC, CBS and NBC evening broadcasts all ran stories about a new government report blaming man-made climate change for recent extreme weather, but ignored science from another perspective.

Then, when hurricane Sandy hit the Northeastern U.S., the mainstream media seized on the opportunity to peg the event to global warming. That a hurricane would hit New York was unprecedented and must be due to climate change. (Yet a similarly destructive hurricane, Edna, hit the Northeast in 1954 in the days before SUVs.  Another big one hit New York in the 1930s. But let us not digress.)

We’re not climate scientists here at FEE, so we would only ask that the media present well-reasoned dissenting views. And they’re out there.

Another Consensus

Whether one can tie severe weather to climate change is an open question. But there’s another consensus the mainstream media consistently ignores. Political remedies for climate change—including taxes, caps, and green boondoggles—are likely to make us poorer and less adaptable to any changing climate conditions.

Economist Daniel Sutter explains matters clearly here at The Freeman:

A dynamic market economy will feature too much creative destruction to allow detailed planning for the distant future. Nothing is sure in a market economy ten years from now, much less 100 years, and discounting in cost-benefit analysis simply reflects this reality. The economic future becomes more predictable when government controls economic activity, but then stagnation results. Discounting in climate change economics tells us to create wealth to protect future generations. Economic freedom and the institutions of the market economy, not central planning of energy use, is the prudent policy approach to a changing climate. 

In other words, even if the climate is changing: Do little, if anything.

Sutter is not alone in concluding this from cost-benefit analysis. A consensus of economists says that punishing taxes and green energy planning don’t pass the cost-benefit test. And yet when do you ever hear about this consensus? Indeed, some of the most celebrated economists on earth—including five Nobel Laureates—do a cost-benefit analysis of solutions to global problems. They conclude the only thing policymakers ought reasonably to do about climate change is invest in geoengineering technology and limited (read: lower priority) green energy research and development (if governments are bound and determined to spend our money). None recommends carbon taxes or a global cap-and-trade systems.

Let’s not hold our breaths waiting for the MSM to report on the economic consensus.

  • Max Borders is author of The Social Singularity. He is also the founder and Executive Director of Social Evolution—a non-profit organization dedicated to liberating humanity through innovation. Max is also co-founder of the Voice & Exit event and former editor at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). Max is a futurist, a theorist, a published author and an entrepreneur.