Robert L. Bradley, President of the Institute for Energy Research in Houston, Texas, writing in Climate Alarmism Reconsidered*, has produced a devastating critique of the research of environmentalists, whom he describes as climate alarmists. Bradley's research shows that the arguments of those who call for interventionist policy action on the environment are flawed on three counts:
- they ignore consistent improvements in nearly all environmental outcomes over the last century (for example pollutants have fallen by 60% in the last 30 years in the UK)
- they are too pessimistic about the impact of global warming on the environment and local economies
- they propose measures that have costs that far outweigh any possible benefit from their implementation.
Environmental alarmists, having been proven wrong time and time again, turned to global warming as another justification for failed socialist policies. Bradley shows that the alarmists are wrong yet again. Global warming is occurring and it is likely that anthropogenic (man-made) warming is a cause of global warming. But the extreme scenarios often reported in headline news but frequently disproved later are highly unlikely and derive from flawed top down models that build extreme assumptions on top of more extreme assumptions.
One example of how the impact of moderate global warming may well be beneficial is that the estimated CO2 growth over the next 100 years is likely to lead to crop yields increasing by between 10% and 30%.
But even if anthropogenic warming is, on balance, harmful the costs of reversing it are much greater. The net cost of implementing the Kyoto protocol (after allowing for benefits of reduced global warming) is about £400bn, yet it will hardly reduce the impact of global warming and will do nothing for the 27% of the world's population without electricity. The interventionist policies proposed by alarmists are unrealistic and will cause serious electricity supply problems in the UK by 2050. The outcome could be still worse: inefficient interventionist policies and slow economic growth could lead to reduced technological innovation and thus less efficient energy use.
This does not mean that nothing should be done. In fact, current government policies artificially encourage energy use by subsidising transportation (including not charging properly for