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If We Ignore the Costs…..

Here’s a letter that I sent yesterday to the New York Times:

Thomas Friedman writes: “If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? … [G]radually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels.  We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull’s-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner.  In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent” (“Going Cheney on Climate,” Dec. 9).


Lovely, that is, until one asks: compared to what?  From where do all the resources come that produce these wonderful benefits that Mr. Friedman foresees?  How can Mr. Friedman be so sure that the benefits of windmills, solar panels, and battery-powered electric cars will exceed the costs of making – will exceed in value that which must be foregone to make – these green fetishes a reality?

Of course, he cannot be sure.  Not even close.  Like so many other pundits, Mr. Friedman simply ignores, or arbitrarily discounts, the costs of turning his oh-so-lovely daydreams into quotidian actuality.

Donald J. Boudreaux