A recent study published in Nature claims that global warming kills phytoplankton. A blogger claims that this means the end of life on Earth. Kevin Drum argues that we could avoid certain death if we were willing to pay another $100 a year on our electric bill. Megan McArdle, in a remarkably balanced post, points out that this is nonsense on stilts.
But that's not what I wanted to talk about. One of the reasons that I'm skeptical about global warming is that is too perfectly fits the agenda of the far left. Capitalism is evil, the environment uber alles, our only hope is that we cede power to international institutions of technocracy and, by the way, we're going to need a whole lot more taxes. If your recommended solution to a new, serious problem that pops up out of nowhere is exactly the same as the solutions you were recommending to our pre-existing problems, you'll have to excuse me if I suspect that the new problem is more convenient than real.
Which is why its somewhat annoying that, more and more, my preferred policy responses to the possibility of induced global climate change are exactly the same as my responses to most other policy problems we have: we (meaning the entire human race) need to dump regulation and focus on getting as rich as we can as fast as we can. At this point in history, richer functionally means smarter. Richer societies can spend more money on pure research and on applied research. We can put more minds to work trying to understand the problems facing us and more minds means more possible solutions. Once we have a theoretical solution, being richer improves our chances of being able to turn theory into practice and makes us better able to withstand whatever problems global warming causes.
That of course assumes that global warming is a real threat. On the other hand, if it's not a threat, well, we'll just have to make do with being richer and smarter.
Contrast that with the left's plan to impoverish the world because of the chance that global warming is a real threat. We will live miserable lives and still -- taking the science seriously -- suffer global warming. If the science is wrong, we will have made ourselves poor for no reason at all.