The excellent Becker-Posner Blog’s weekly posts this week deal with a favorite topic of mine from my undergrad studies: the intersects between the environment and national security vis-a-vis energy policy. I am inclined to agree with much of what both have to say on the subject. The money quote is probably this one:
A tax on carbon emissions from business and household production would not only help reduce global warming-by how much is still controversial- but it would also lower the world prices of these fuels through reducing the demand for fossil fuels. Lower prices would cut the revenues received by Middle Eastern states from the sale of oil and natural gas.
Greg Mankiw is doubtless pleased. Becker also favors increasing the share of electricity generation from nuclear power, something I also support. This is a less than popular attitude among many environmentalists, but I think it is, for now, the least worst alternative.
Posner is also right to say, however:
A point Becker does not touch on is the importance of international cooperation to deal with environmental problems.
This is really the big issue with global warming. Kyoto didn’t go nearly far enough in establishing meaningful international cooperation, and many signatories are failing to meet their targets even under that weak agreement. I hold out some hope that there still is room for progress, but I fear that the window is closing rapidly on mitigation possibilities, and that within my lifetime, we may be left with an emphasis on difficult and unpleasant adaptation strategies as our primary recourse.