Global Warming and the Free Market

I took some flack from a couple of you for not identifying the organizations behind in my earlier post. Mark W. and Tom were particularly harsh, and I suppose deservedly so. I was trying to save some fodder for later (I'm always tempted to throw everything into one enormous post; fortunately my editor keeps that from happening too often), but those who called me out were right, a note of identification would have been helpful.

So here's a whole post on the subject. is "a project of the Cooler Heads Coalition" and the site is updated by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. CEI advocates "the development and promotion of free market approaches to environmental policy."

Oh, and it received $465,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003, according to Chris Mooney's exhaustively-researched book, The Republican War on Science. The site offers a bio on CEI, or if you don't like that source, here's a Democracy Now interview posted right on CEI's Web site. The interview is from April 2005, by which time CEI had received close to a million and a half dollars from ExxonMobil.

Sourcewatch provides this list of CEI's funders. Sourcewatch also offers a couple case studies of CEI's work, including the think tank's claim that stricter fuel efficiency standards would sacrifice highway safety because they discriminate against heavier vehicles which are safer for their occupants (and, Sourcewatch points out, more dangerous for everyone else.)

Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal calls CEI 'the best environmental think tank in the country'. And that says a lot coming from those tree-hugging hippies over at the WSJ [insert sarcasm point here].

Generally, the Journal's enthusiasm for the free market is great, but I admit, I am skeptical of the CEI's argument that a lack of regulation will convince self-interested corporations and consumers to do what's in the best interest of the environment, even when (as is often the case) it costs more to do so. It seems that the free market hasn't always done the greatest job of keeping emissions in check.

It's pretty self-evident, right? If it's cheaper to produce a product by polluting more -- as is almost always the case absent regulatory fines -- few if any manufacturers are going to lower their profit margins and/or risk a drop in sales to capture that handful of consumers who are willing and able to pay more to buy the environmentally-sound version of the product. In most cases, it would be economically foolish to decide unilaterally to reduce emissions or conserve resources, thereby giving competitors an advantage.

But what do you think: Are tougher laws needed, or is the free market the best regulator of environmentally-friendly business practices?

Have something to add on CEI or any of the other organizations opposing climate change science? Have your say here.

By Emily Messner |  October 3, 2005; 1:00 PM ET  | Category:  Facts
Previous: Global Warming an Act of God? | Next: Global Warming: U.S. Policy Goes International


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Just when I have the flu this topic comes along...***SIGH***...Went into this subject earlier in Think Tank Town, but will revisit it (if I can type past all this cold medicine!!).

This whole business about our environs has been hijacked by the same PETA types that have taken over the animal WELFARE movement. This subset is trying to pass junk science as hard science, when Science itself knows the data isn't there -- just because there's a warming trend +/- 200 years doesn't = it's manmade. What's not being said is the record breaking solar activity going on (like in January, with the largest proton storm since 1956 hit the planet -- a year after the massive X-Class flare that could've destroyed the Japanese and UK Mars landers). Such non-manmade problems can't be resolved, and are ignored by groups who think by cutting consumption we'll save the planet (a very shortsighted ideal). They're absolutely crazy to consider conservation or so-called "green" energy are the solution, since our energy consumption HAS to increase for society to evolve to it's next stage (yes, we're going to go beyond circuits and silicon). This increase will probably result in the Earth producing that fabled Dyson sphere to generate enough energy to get off this rock, let alone power the electronics and transportation of the future. So conservation itself isn't the key to our survival -- developing a cheaper source of REGENERATING fuel that is TRANSPORTABLE and INERT is. That technology probably won't occur for another 300 years, so unfortunately we'll be hounded by pot heads who think tree hugging and "green peace" energy is the solution (meanwhile throw our world into another Dark Age, since it can't evolve to the next stage without 10x the energy output society needs), and guys in Stetson hats who think crude oil is God's money and do what they did to the San Francisco trolley cars (killing that energy/transportation solution, in exchange for more car sales to fund the oil companies).

This leaves us currently with the crazies on either end of the spectrum: the environmentalist ALF types and the corporate energy tycoons who only care about $$$$$$$$$$. Meanwhile our real needs to power the electronics that we need to get to the next evolutionary stage is stalled (as no one is funding alternative energy solutions other than designs/solutions that's 50 years old [just browse some Popular Science mags from the 1950's to 60's to see how ideas are just recycled] -- and very costly to produce with limited potential/stores [which for energy companies means they hold a monopoly again]).

Until Mankind really wants an energy solution, everything else is tail chasing -- hybrids, hydrogen, fuel cells, solar, wind, etc.


Posted by: SandyK | October 4, 2005 04:45 AM

Everyone wants to hit the home run. Conservation won't solve all issues, but it costs relatively nothing. Saving the environment comes down to the little things. We can all drive less, buy less crap, be more sensible about how we treat the planet.
The anti-enviro crowd scares everyone by making it seek like we all need to be poor in order to ave the planet. We need some smart people to realize that saving the environment and protecting the planet CREATES JOBS. There is this attitude and GW epitomizes it: I can do whatever I want with nature, it is my right. If I want to destroy it, it is my perogative. Drilling at ANRW will in the long run not bring us that much extra oil, but damn if will let anyone tell me what to do. The environment de damned has been engrained as an American privledge from before our country was a country, it is time we get over it.
Protecting the environment will improve everyone's lot, it is about time we realize where the money is going and who will pay the ultimate price. Katrina was a wake-up call. WAKE UP!

Posted by: DeeK | October 5, 2005 05:59 PM

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