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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9844/fallout-from-declaring-co2-a-pollutant-a-potential-news-dispatch-from-a-world-going-mad/

Fallout from Declaring CO2 a Pollutant (A Potential News Dispatch from a World Going Mad)

April 25, 2009 by

New York–Now that carbon dioxide has been declared a pollutant by the EPA, numerous local jurisdictions around the country, whose finances have been badly hammered by the current recession, are considering the imposition of “Exhalation Taxes.”

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are reportedly preparing a joint statement citing the legitimacy and inevitability of taxes on CO2 emissions in general and on human exhalations of CO2 in particular. Humans emit CO2 into the atmosphere and thus contribute to global warming every time they exhale, in other words, every time they let out their breath. Some studies have estimated that taking all human beings together their exhalations account for as much as 8 per cent of all human-caused CO2 emissions. This is more than the proportion emitted by all privately owned aircraft in the world and is thus an important and fruitful target for reduction.

The Obama Administration has until now preferred a system of “cap and trade” as the means of limiting CO2 emissions, rather than any direct tax on emissions. Under that system, the Federal Government will limit the overall total amount of permissible emissions but allow individuals to emit as much they wish by buying the emission rights of others. A high official in the New York City government, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the Mayor and the Governor have arranged for a joint task force, financed at the Mayor’s expense, out of his personal fortune, to study the feasibility of adapting this system to human exhalations. A particularly troubling aspect of any adaptation, the source explained, is how to combine it with plans by the Federal Government gradually to reduce the overall total of permissible emissions.

Among the task-force’s assignments are determining the extent to which people might use the oxygen they breath in more efficiently (oxygen-efficiency option), so that they would be able to correspondingly reduce their exhalations of CO2. Another potential solution under study is the possibility of sequestering the exhalations in jars and various other containers, so as to reduce the overall release of CO2 into the atmosphere (CO2 sequestration option).

No official estimates have been released as to what the average person might expect to have to pay in order to exhale in compliance with the law, but some insiders place it initially as working out to as little as 50 cents per day. According to polls conducted among individuals who identify themselves as environmentalists or as political moderates, the general consensus is that “we can live with that” and “it’s a small price to pay, to keep the planet safe.”

Support for higher exhalation taxes and/or more stringent cap-and-trade limitations is indicated by the reported brisk sale of bumper stickers urging “polluters” to stop exhaling altogether. The stickers say, “Stop Exhaling, You God-Damned Polluting Bastards.” It is unclear whether the drivers of the vehicles which carry the stickers count themselves as polluters too.

In contrast to the extremist position expressed in such bumper stickers, key Obama Administration officials and Congressional leaders are reportedly prepared to guarantee that “no American will ever be allowed to be in a position in which he cannot afford to pay for all of his reasonably necessary exhalations.” The Federal Government, they say, will provide whatever financial subsidies as may be necessary to assure everyone’s right to exhale on terms that he can afford.

Copyright © 2009, by George Reisman. George Reisman, Ph.D. is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute. His web site is www.capitalism.net and his blog is www.georgereisman.com/blog/.

{ 75 comments }

Gil April 26, 2009 at 5:13 am

“Ahh, I understand now. In other words, H2O also ‘becomes a pollutant’ when an area floods”

Well Ansury – DUH! Any other liquid that flooded an area and destroyed would be considered a pollutant too.

newson April 26, 2009 at 5:45 am

saildog:
hypotheses/modeling aside, is there any real evidence for rising sea levels?

newson April 26, 2009 at 6:27 am

…and of course, no agw story would be complete without the tabloid quote, this time from former head of the international commission on sea level change, dr nils-axel mörner.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5067351/Rise-of-sea-levels-is-the-greatest-lie-ever-told.html

SailDog April 26, 2009 at 7:05 am

“Current sea level rise has occured at a mean rate of 1.8 mm per year for the past century, and more recently at rates estimated near 2.8 ± 0.4[3] to 3.1 ± 0.7 mm per year (1993-2003)” (Wikipedia).

The article presents a lot of evidence. Read it for yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level_rise

Poptech April 26, 2009 at 7:21 am

Of course markets can sort out our energy needs. What ever is the most cost effective energy source will always be used. Basic price discovery of each commodity takes care of it.

Private property rights sorts out who owns what minerals. REAL pollution is already regulated under the clean air act and the air is getting cleaner all the time.

Unbelievable you come to a free market site and spew propaganda about command and control being more efficient than markets.

You might want to read the article again. EROEI is used as propaganda to mislead the average person. You are not using the same energy source to extract the same energy. You are using another energy source such as Nuclear or Natural Gas to extract oil sands for transportation fuel. Why? Because the monetary value makes it worth it. You are in effect consuming more energy to extract less but the monetary value of the what you are extracting is worth more than the energy you are using to extract it with. The reason is simple. Hydrocarbon liquids make better transportation fuels and thus in the market demand a higher monetary value. By your delusions the energy of the coal used to make your electricity cannot be negative, it always is.

Coal is used because it’s energy content and market value is greater than all other sources of energy. The only industries heavily subsidized are “renewables” such as solar, wind and biofuels. None would exist without government at this time.

Saildog, you are a clueless alarmists of the highest order. Nowhere is anyone claiming the collapse or even melting of the west Antarctic Ice sheet for thousands of years. Even the ridiculous IPCC makes the following claims…

- Global mean sea level has risen only about 6 inches in the last 100 years. (Based on tidal gauge data) (IPCC)
- Global mean sea level rise is in the range of 1.0 to 2.0 mm/yr. (Based on tidal gauge data) (IPCC)
- No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected. (IPCC)
- “Computer Models” project a sea level rise of only 7-23 inches (0.18-0.59m) in the next 100 years. (IPCC)

There is plenty of oil left. The amount of oil tied up in oil sands and oil shale will last for hundreds of years.

Myth: The World is Running Out of Oil (Video) (5min) (John Stossel, 20/20)

- 1.8 to 6 Trillion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Oil-Shale Reserves (DOE)
- 986 Billion barrels of oil are estimated using Coal-to-liquids (CTL) conversion of U.S. Coal Reserves (DOE)
- 173 to 315 Billion (1.7-2.5 Trillion potential) barrels of oil are estimated in the Oil Sands of Alberta, Canada (Alberta Department of Energy)
- 100 Billion barrels of heavy oil are estimated in the U.S. (DOE)
- 90 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the Arctic (USGS)
- 89 Billion barrels of immobile oil are estimated recoverable using CO2 injection in the U.S. (DOE)
- 86 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (MMS)
- 60 to 80 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in U.S. Tar Sands (DOE)
- 32 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in ANWR, NPRA and the Central North Slope in Alaska (USGS)
- 31.4 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the East Greenland Rift Basins Province (USGS)
- 7.3 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the West Greenland–East Canada Province (USGS)
- 4.3 Billion (167 Billion potential) barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Montana (USGS)
- 3.65 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Devonian-Mississippian Bakken Formation (USGS)
- 1.6 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Eastern Great Basin Province (USGS)
- 1.3 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Permian Basin Province (USGS)
- 1.1 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Powder River Basin Province (USGS)
- 990 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Portion of the Michigan Basin (USGS)
- 393 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. San Joaquin Basin Province of California (USGS)
- 214 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Illinois Basin (USGS)
- 172 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Yukon Flats of East-Central Alaska (USGS)
- 131 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Southwestern Wyoming Province (USGS)
- 109 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Montana Thrust Belt Province (USGS)
- 104 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Denver Basin Province (USGS)
- 98.5 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Bend Arch-Fort Worth Basin Province (USGS)
- 94 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Hanna, Laramie, Shirley Basins Province (USGS)

Poptech April 26, 2009 at 7:27 am

Saildog, Denmark has not been able to close one conventional power plant because Wind cannot provide the baseload power 100% of the time. It is intermittent and unreliable.

Loss of Wind Causes Texas Power Grid Emergency (Reuters)
Wind energy supply dips during cold snap (The Daily Telegraph, UK)

Poptech April 26, 2009 at 7:32 am

Wind power is a complete disaster (Financial Post, Canada)

“Denmark, the world’s most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind power’s unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).”

SailDog April 26, 2009 at 7:45 am

Poptech – it is you that is clueless. It is not the quantum of estimated “reserves” that matters, it is how much can be produced, or what is known as flows. Lots of things impact flows, including geology, politics, war, hurricanes, investment, etc etc. The net effect is that production is a race between bringing on new production and declining production at existing fields. And the race is being lost, especially new investment has been drastically reduced in response to the recession. Peak Oil is now past tense.

Net energy contribution is the ultimate objective of any energy source and thus the quality of production is also important; and this is where EROEI comes back in. Corn ethanol has an EROEI of 1.1 and is thus useless. It is useless for many other reasons too. Tar sands have an EROEI of between 1.3 and 3, which is too low. Even the most optimistic forecast the Canadian tar sands will max out at 3m barrels per day (a flow) in 10 years or so. Production declines will be double that this year alone. Shale is shale and not oil and no one has yet worked out how to produce it because it takes too much energy (and water). Even if someone worked it out it will take years to establish a meaningful flow. And so it goes for all the other so called resources you listed in the widely discredited USGS 2000 study.

Poptech April 26, 2009 at 8:09 am

Investment is based on supply and demand.

Wrong again, Oil Sands have an EROEI between 5.0-7.2.

Again it doesn’t matter how much energy it takes, it matters how much the energy costs of the energy invested vs what is extracted. You learn nothing. You keep thinking you are using Shale oil to extract Shale Oil and not Nuclear or Natural Gas to extract Shale Oil. Natural Gas from Shale is now in abundance.

You are a knee jerk propagandist. I did not list any USGS study, those are my compiled resources from VARIOUS DOE and USGS sources. Typical alarmist propaganda, you just declare something “widely discredited” to sound good. You sir are a laughing stock of epic proportions.

Now I will contine to debunk the rest of your propaganda…

Bruce Koerber April 26, 2009 at 8:09 am

So here we have it:

Tax disincentives to make people abstain from all vigorous exercise that would release more CO2 and then more government programs to combat obesity!

Poptech April 26, 2009 at 8:17 am

Bangladesh gaining land, not losing: scientists (AFP)

“New data shows that Bangladesh’s landmass is increasing, contradicting forecasts that the South Asian nation will be under the waves by the end of the century, experts say.

Scientists from the Dhaka-based Center for Environment and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) have studied 32 years of satellite images and say Bangladesh’s landmass has increased by 20 square kilometres (eight square miles) annually.”

Tuvalu floods, but it’s not sinking (Chris de Freitas, Ph.D. Professor of Environmental Science)

Since instrumentation was installed in 1993 on Tuvalu’s main island Funafuti, sea level has shown no discernible trend. There is some inundation evident on islands in Tuvalu, but global warming is not the cause.

It is the result of erosion, sand mining and construction projects causing an inflow of sea water.

Other factors are also involved.

Excessive use of freshwater for irrigation also causes destruction of underground freshwater reservoirs. A consequence is seawater encroachment into vegetable growing pits is occurring, but is not due to sea level rise.”

LMAO!! Please Saildog go back to the Michael Simmons propaganda sites and leave the facts to us here at Mises.

Poptech April 26, 2009 at 8:26 am

“In both instances some property is also uninsurable

Looks like Saildog just discovered a market mechanism to persuade people how to deal with any sea level rise.

We knew you could do it Saildog!

Bruce Koerber April 26, 2009 at 8:42 am

Will the imbeciles ever regard imperialistic wars as harmful?

“Don’t confuse me with the facts,” they reply!

Poptech April 26, 2009 at 8:50 am

Let’s Get Real About Renewable Energy (The Wall Street Journal)

“We can double the output of solar and wind, and double it again. We’ll still depend on hydrocarbons.”

The World Has Plenty of Oil (The Wall Street Journal)

“What are the global resources in place? Estimates vary. But approximately six to eight trillion barrels each for conventional and unconventional oil resources (shale oil, tar sands, extra heavy oil) represent probable figures — inclusive of future discoveries. As a matter of context, the globe has consumed only one out of a grand total of 12 to 16 trillion barrels underground.”

Bruce Koerber April 26, 2009 at 9:40 am

Education and Ethics
Sunday, April 26, 2009

The CO2 Police Value Garbage More Than Humans.

Will the deceitful statisticians ever confess that it costs more money, and uses more energy, to implement the government sponsored recycling program than without such a program?

How does the extra CO2 generation from this energy wasteful and economically unsound program avoid the scrutiny of the CO2 police who want to penalize humans for breathing?

How ethical or just is it to value garbage more than humans?

Inquisitor April 26, 2009 at 10:51 am

It is certainly amusing to see Poptech eviscerate the ecofundamentalist dogma that is fashionable online.

Jönnee April 26, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Three cheers for Poptech!

SailDog April 26, 2009 at 10:31 pm

“eviscerate”? – big word Inquisitor. But sorry – I do not feel eviscerated at all. But I will take my toys and go and play elsewhere.

This is not a forum where a discussion can take place, minds are closed and positions entrenched. New learning is not possible.

Certainly it is a disappointment to me to see someone as mediocre as Reisman published here. As I said, his views are irrelevant and meaningless. Thank God it is only only on sites like this, where he preaches to the converted, that he gets published.

So Adios one and all. You can all nod earnestly at each others ludicrous view points. I am sure you won’t miss me one little bit!

geoih April 27, 2009 at 6:26 am

Quote from Saildog: “So Adios one and all. You can all nod earnestly at each others ludicrous view points. I am sure you won’t miss me one little bit!”

Don’t worry, he’ll be back. Only next time he’ll bring his posse of government buddies, demanding their way with guns. Zealots know there’s more than one way to create converts.

Poptech April 27, 2009 at 7:11 am

Please Saildog take your “toys” (propaganda) and go talk to the uneducated who do not have the facts.

Dr. Reisman, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pepperdine University, has forgotten more about economics than you will ever hope to know.

Here are some excellent articles explaining how environmentalism is a Religion…

Environmentalism as Religion (Michael Crichton, A.B. Anthropology, M.D. Harvard)
What Evangelical Environmentalists Do Not Know About Economics (Ludwig von Mises Institute)

Gil April 27, 2009 at 8:33 am

But poptech & friends – let’s take a simple analogy – saving the whales. Under libertarian theologythinking whales cannot be private property as they cannot be homesteaded. I believe homesteading means people having to do something pro-active to earn the right to unowned resources before they can declare “mine”. But, even today, there’s no way to homestead whales. Whale-watching is obvious and tagging doesn’t do anything either. On the other hand, whalers can homestead the whale in the sense they convert the whale to various items (oil and meat) therefore they have property rights in those products. A non-Libertarian alternative is a treaty between governments to stop their citizens to engage in whaling.

Does this mean it’s wrong to even consider ‘saving’ the whales? Or do some find it laughable that some want to ‘save the whales’. If some like to declare ‘environmentalism a religion’ do they mean environmentalism is a form of insanity or homicidal mania? What can it mean when Michael Crichton declared ‘environmentalism has caused some 30 millions death thus far’? Does this mean environmentalism is as dangerous as Communism? Environmentalism isn’t ‘cutesy’ wrong but extremely dangerously wrong? “You may feel bad that whales are being hunted but any attempt at impeding whalers is initiation of aggression and will be treated as such so tough luck buddy.” By the same alternative ‘save the rainforests’ is wrong as it’s not anyone’s to save. Alternatively, even if dangerous global warming (or cooling) turns out to be true (and we know that it isn’t) there’s no Libertarian method for change as it’s occurring in the ‘commons’ anyway. “It’s not ‘your’ atmosphere hence you have no right to control our emissions.”

Gil April 27, 2009 at 8:36 am

But poptech & friends – let’s take a simple analogy – saving the whales. Under libertarian theologythinking whales cannot be private property as they cannot be homesteaded. I believe homesteading means people having to do something pro-active to earn the right to unowned resources before they can declare “mine”. But, even today, there’s no way to homestead whales. Whale-watching is obvious and tagging doesn’t do anything either. On the other hand, whalers can homestead the whale in the sense they convert the whale to various items (oil and meat) therefore they have property rights in those products. A non-Libertarian alternative is a treaty between governments to stop their citizens to engage in whaling.

Does this mean it’s wrong to even consider ‘saving’ the whales? Or do some find it laughable that some want to ‘save the whales’. If some like to declare ‘environmentalism a religion’ do they mean environmentalism is a form of insanity or homicidal mania? What can it mean when Michael Crichton declared ‘environmentalism has caused some 30 millions death thus far’? Does this mean environmentalism is as dangerous as Communism? Environmentalism isn’t ‘cutesy’ wrong but extremely dangerously wrong? “You may feel bad that whales are being hunted but any attempt at impeding whalers is initiation of aggression and will be treated as such so tough luck buddy.” By the same alternative ‘save the rainforests’ is wrong as it’s not anyone’s to save. Alternatively, even if dangerous global warming (or cooling) turns out to be true (and we know that it isn’t) there’s no Libertarian method for change as it’s occurring in the ‘commons’ anyway. “It’s not ‘your’ atmosphere hence you have no right to control our emissions.”

Poptech April 27, 2009 at 11:04 am

Rothbard addressed the concerns of the environment using free market solutions.

Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution (PDF) (Murray N. Rothbard, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Economics)

As for rainforests…

No Convincing Evidence For Decline In Tropical Forests (University of Leeds, UK)

filc April 27, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Tax the animals! They breath too! Come on team we’re all in this together! The commune!

(8?» April 27, 2009 at 6:09 pm

I don’t get it. Other than being an incoherent statist, just what is Reisman’s problem here?

Talk about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

From his book, Capitalism:

In order for a country to act intelligently in adopting laws and institutions that bear upon economic life, it is clearly necessary that its citizens understand the principles that govern the development and functioning of the division of labor, that is, understand the principles of economics. If they do not, then it is only a question of time before that country will adopt more and more destructive laws and institutions, ultimately stopping all further economic progress and causing actual economic decline, with all that that implies about the conditions of human life.

Too bad he doesn’t understand the principle of violence known as government. Then he might not waste his time thinking about an abstraction “acting intelligently.” Also, does human action not really exist outside of “countries” and “citizens?” Can he really be so blind as to equate the problems (government action) as solutions? Would he believe his ideas to be realistic if the word mafia were substituted for government?

As soon as I came across that paragraph, my nice new book was tossed into the corner. IMO, Reisman is no different than Greenspan. They seem to understand one thing, yet act completely opposite. Quite simply, like Greenspan, I don’t trust his motives. There is nothing about capitalism that requires a gun to be put to my head. Yet to Reisman, it is a necessity.

Too bad Reisman broke with Rothbard instead of Rand. He might’ve actually learned something of value, and I might have had a book worth reading.

Instead, we get the cult of Objectivism dressed up as laissez-faire.

REISMAN’S REPLY: I’m curious to learn your opinion of Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand. Do you believe that they were statists? Like myself, they advocated a policy of laissez-faire. Do you think that laissez-faire capitalism is statism?

Do you recognize that government intervention into the peaceful pursuits of private individuals is arguably the leading problem of our time and that it is overwhelmingly based on mistaken ideas about economics and will not be stopped until people’s ideas about economics change? I wrote my book in order to help bring about that change, so that people would understand what is wrong with government intervention and then put an end to it.

George Reisman

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