NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 8, 2006

Any serious consideration of the proposals made in the Stern Review for radically reducing carbon technology -- and the accompanying calls for immediacy in enacting them -- makes clear how utterly impractical the environmentalist program for controlling global warming actually is, says George Reisman, Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics. 


  • According to the report, to avoid the loss of up to 20 percent of annual gross domestic product (GDP), carbon dioxide emissions need to be reduced by more than 80 percent below the absolute level of current annual emissions.
  • By those standards, the world economy would need to produce 3 to 4 times the output in 2050 with 25 percent less carbon dioxide emission.
  • Stern also calls for public energy R&D funding should double, to around $20 billion, for the development of a diverse portfolio of technologies.
  • Yet $20 billion is one-twentieth of one percent of the world's current annual GDP, hardly enough, it would seem, to reduce levels by 80 percent.

Even if the program were sound, says Reisman, it would simply not be possible to enact it in time to satisfy the environmentalists that the level of carbon buildup they fear will not occur.

Ultimately, what they offer is merely the destruction of an economic system capable of developing new and additional means to confront changes in nature.  To the extent that their program is enacted, it will serve to prevent effectively dealing with global warming if that should ever actually be necessary.

Source: George Reisman, "Britain's Stern Review on Global Warming: It Could Be Environmentalism's Swan Song," Ludwig von Mises Institute, November 6, 2006.

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