Climate Change Economics and Politics

Paul Krugman has a nice column on climate economics. And here he's picking on Robert Samuelson, a columnist at the Washington Post. I've always found Samuelson's economics a little askew from the economics I know and teach. So I sympathize with Krugman here.

In my own circles I hear that climate scientists sounding the alarm about global warming are simply pursuing larger federally-funded research budgets. I wonder if these people have thought carefully about the coordination problems involved with such a strategy, and compared it to, say, coordination by OPEC countries (which appears largely ineffective at controlling prices[1][2]).

In my own experience, I find scientists and academics pretty shrewd and independent minded, a particularly tough group to coordinate. And besides, if they were just looking for more research dollars wouldn't they be emphasizing uncertainty and ambiguity over action?

Maybe all the scientists are mistaken. But if conspiracy theories are typically hard to believe, this one is especially so.

Update: In response to comments:

Yes, I understand that some people truly believe that climate change is a hoax. I also know that very few of these people know much about climate science. But some probably do.

Among those who know climate science, the vast majority say they believe human-induced global warming is a real problem. All I'm saying is that the vast majority of this majority are almost surely being honest.

Yes, there is a lot of crazy stuff on the internet. But for searchers savvy and patient enough to read all sides carefully, it is clear to me anyway which side is the more objective, science-based, and least corrupted by special interests. The quality of the arguments do speak for themselves, if you read carefully and read enough.

Anonymous: I do not have a definite answer to your question. But my impression is that yes, the modern pork industry is mostly industrialized (at least in the U.S.). I believe it is technologically feasible to scale up production very quickly, so long as integrators are willing to locate facilities in a particular location and local governments will let them. The capacity/willingness of integrators is key, however. Why you ask this question here baffles me. If your comment is some kind of vague allusion to government "pork" then please forgive me: I don't get the joke.


  1. I had the good fortune to attend a Christopher Monckton presentation Tuesday night. It is easy to see why Al Gore is afraid of him. He (Monckton) is a very honest man on a genuine mission to spread the truth.

    He didn't even tell people that he has a DVD for sale on the Science and Public Policy website. He has no connections to big oil or coal. He is obviously isn't doing this for the money. Lord knows that can't be said of Gore who stands to make a billion if cap and trade legislation goes through in the U.S. Monckton said during the presentation that Gore told the committee last Friday that if Monckton showed up, he wouldn't. Gore has been running from Monckton for years. As I said, it's with good reason.

    Monckton would tear Gore apart in a one on one debate. Anyone who doubts Monckton's abilities should view Apocalypse? No! which is a tape of a presentation he made at Cambridge.

    His presentation Tuesday is still available for free online:

    You can also view Monckton's review of the 35 errors in Gore's Sci-Fi Comedy Horror Flick:
    An Inconvenient Truth on my website:

    Lord Monckton's Written works are available by following this link:

  2. Dash,

    That was a very impartial post! Good thing you didn't tell us about the DVD for sale!

  3. Is the pork industrially globalized? That is, if you slaughter pigs in New Zealand, adjusting for transportation costs would this have the same effect on pork supplies in Thailand as if you slaughtered pigs in Brazil?

    Can the pork industry regenerate easily? If you slaughter a given % of piggies, assuming farm supports can farm capacity be restored easily within say, two years by making importing from unslaughter capacity? I guess I'm asking the adult pig population doubling time assuming unlimited $$.

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