The cap and trade fallacy

George Will:

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That legislation is a particularly lurid illustration of why no serious person nowadays takes seriously Washington's increasingly infantile bandying of numbers. The point of cap-and-trade is to impose a ceiling on the nation's greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions—primarily carbon dioxide. The legislation endorses the goal of holding the global carbon--dioxide level to a maximum of 450 parts per million by 2050. That. Will. Not. Happen.

Steven Hayward and Kenneth Green of the American Enterprise Institute do the math. The 450 level is less than the 2030 projected level for all countries other than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's 30 developed nations. Which means the global goal would be unreachable even if in 2030 those 30 disappear—if they have zero emissions. Waxman--Markey endorses the goal of reducing all of this nation's GHG emissions 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. In 2005, the United States' carbon-dioxide emissions were 6 billion tons, so an 83 percent -reduction would permit about 1 billion tons—what America's emissions were in 1910, when the population was 92 million and the economy was one twenty-fifth of today's. But by 2050, the population probably will be about 420 million, so per capita carbon-dioxide emissions would have to be 2.4 tons—one quarter of 1910's per capita emissions.

Hayward and Green say that historical data indicate that the last time emissions were that low was 1875. And even before that, before widespread use of fossil fuels, wood burning by Americans may have produced more than 2.4 tons per capita. Today France, which generates approximately 80 percent of its electricity by nuclear power, and Switzerland, which generates most of its electricity by nuclear or hydropower, have per capita emissions of 6.59 and 6.13 tons, respectively.

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Why are Democrats willing to ruin the US economy for an objective that is impossible to obtain even if they seriously went all out? I think it is magical thinking based on the hope of magic energy to replace carbon and nuclear energy.

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