Here’s a video of Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick saying the city needs to “sacrifice” its single-family neighborhoods in order to stop climate change. We’ve known that planners feel this way, but rarely do they say it in so many words.
Previously, many Portland politicians have promised to preserve existing neighborhoods by keeping all high-density developments within a half mile of light-rail and other major transit lines. The unspoken truth was that nearly all single-family homes were within a half mile of a major bus corridor, and Portland wants to build so many rail lines that soon most homes would be within a half mile of one of those lines as well.
To stop climate change, Al Gore wants to spend a mere $90 trillion rebuilding all of the world’s cities so that everyone is living in such high-density neighborhoods that they don’t need cars. While a few curmudgeonly types might think that $90 trillion sounds like a lot of money, it really isn’t, say Gore and former Mexico president Filipe Calderon. After all, the world is probably going to spend the $90 trillion on something in the next few years anyway, so what’s wrong with spending it on this?
Gore wants to rebuild this dumb-growth city into. . .
Gore made the proposal at an economics conference in Davos, Switzerland attended by billionaires who fly in on private jets so they can tell other people they need to get used to consuming less. Of course, neither Gore nor the other millionaires and billionaires at the conference expect to be stuck living in a high-density apartment any time soon.
Someone named Willis Eschenbach has a blog post arguing that a carbon tax is “crazy” because it will have a negligible effect on how much Americans drive. He observes that the carbon taxes he’s “seen discussed are on the order of $20-$30 per ton” of CO2, and calculates that a tax of $28 per ton equals about 25 cents per gallon of gasoline.
He further calculates that increasing the cost of gasoline by 25 cents reduces per capita driving by about 100 miles per year. Since Americans drive an average of about 10,000 miles per year, this is only 1 percent. “They want to impoverish the poor for that?” he asks.
There are several errors in his analysis, but when I tried to point them out in comments I got lost in an effort to enter a valid on-line name and password. So I’ll just discuss them here. First, let me say that I’m not convinced that anthropogenic climate change is serious enough to warrant huge changes in our society. But if I were, a revenue-neutral carbon tax would be the most sensible change.
Eschenbach’s most important error is his implicit assumption that the best way to measure the effects of a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions is by the number of miles of per capita driving. In fact, I’ve argued for years that reducing per capita driving is not a cost-effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and Eschenbach’s analysis reinforces that: large reductions in driving would require much higher taxes than most analysts believe are necessary to reduce emissions.
Instead of giving up our cars, says the August issue of National Geographic, we can simply scrub the skies of CO2. The article describes a process of removing carbon from the atmosphere that is technologically feasible. Though it is hard to guess how expensive it will be, the article suggests it will be a lot cheaper than dramatically altering the way we live.
“Jet travel would become guilt free again,” reports the magazine. “We could keep our cars and gas stations–no need for a whole new hydrogen- or electric-powered infrastructure. Subversive thought: We could keep our lifestyles.” Interesting that they think the status quo is subversive.
“That’s historically what we’ve done,” says physicist Klaus Lackner. “Weâ€™ve run into environmental issues that seemed insurmountable–and weâ€™ve found a solution.” The Antiplanner doesn’t necessarily endorse the scrubbing process described in the article, but does endorse the sentiment that there are less-expensive ways of solving problems than trying to force people to give up their mobility. The most interesting point is that this is coming from a mainstream magazine that has had a strong environmental bent in recent years.
People in Bolivia are going thirsty, and the New York Timesblames it on climate change. But, in fact, the glaciers have been retreating for well over 100 years.
The real problem in Bolivia, as the Times admits well down the page, is that the government declared water to be a “human right” and took over the private water company. But because the government is inept, not to mention broke, it has failed to provide water to those who need it or to adjust to long-term changes in water flows.
Simply declaring something a human right doesn’t automatically mean everyone will get some. As Bremerton, Washington, blogger Keli Carender points out in the video above, someone has to pay for it.
Bolivia no doubt hopes that, by blaming the problem on climate change, it will guilt-trip wealthy nations into providing billions in foreign aid, thus compensating for its own ineptitude. If the United States nationalized health care, who are we going to guilt-trip to fund our future health costs?
The Antiplanner wrote last Friday’s post in a rush after four days of dealing with near-record low temperatures, so it was probably a bit jumbled. Yet it set off a healthy debate that was both polite and instructive. So let’s continue a bit further.
On Sunday, Chris Matthews asked his guests — Dan Rather, Kelly O’Donnell, Helene Cooper, and Andrew Ross Sorkin — why it is that roughly 80 percent of liberals believe we need climate change legislation while 80 percent of conservatives don’t. Since Matthews and all of his guests are liberals who believe we need climate change legislation, they couldn’t figure it out.
The answer, as I was trying to get across last Friday, is that liberals believe government is good and they want more of it. The climate issue is just one more excuse to justify a bigger government. Conservatives believe government is bad and they want less of it. So, even those who agree that anthropogenic climate change is real are not going to accept that government has a role to play in solving the problem.
Last week, the Antiplanner engaged in a cordial debate with Chuck Kooshian of the Center for Clean Air Policy about whether smart growth — compact development combined with transit improvements — is a cost-effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. You can watch the video below and download the slideshows used by Mr. Kooshian and the Antiplanner.
Mr. Kooshian made a good point in his rebuttal. The Antiplanner critiqued a study called Growing Cooler, which assumed that new cars built after 2020 would always average just 35 mpg, when much higher averages were possible and even likely. Mr. Kooshian pointed out that his own study assumed that new cars in 2030 would get 55 mph.
Still, the Antiplanner pointed out, Mr. Kooshian’s study did not compare the cost-effectiveness of smart growth vs. even more fuel-efficient cars, and one MIT study estimated that building new cars average 69 would be cost-effective by 2030. Beyond this, I’ll let the video and presentations speak for themselves.
The Antiplanner is increasingly convinced that most believers in anthropomorphic climate change care less about saving the planet than they do about changing people’s behavior. Climate change is just an excuse for using the power of government to force such changes.
We can see this in the city of Portland’s Climate Action Plan, which is all about changing behavior. The plan aims to reduce per capita electricity usage by 25 percent and per capita driving by an unbelievable two-thirds by 2050.