Cleaner environment is achieved when people get freer and wealthier

Suspended particulate matter (μg/m3) vs. GDP per capita, London and Delhi shows cleaner environment when people get wealthier

Suspended particulate matter (μg/m3) vs. GDP per capita (2011 USD)
London 1700-2015 and Delhi 1997-2015 [1]

Cleaner environment is achieved after people get free enough

This is the economic history of humanity in a nutshell. From 2 million or 200,000 or 20,000 or 2,000 years ago until the 18th century there was slow growth in population, almost no increase in health or decrease in mortality, slow growth in the availability of natural resources (but not increased scarcity), increase in wealth for a few, and mixed effects on the environment. Since then there has been rapid growth in population due to spectacular decreases in the death rate, rapid growth in resources, widespread increases in wealth, and an unprecedently clean and beautiful living environment in many parts of the world along with a degraded environment in the poor and socialist parts of the world.

That is, more people and more wealth have correlated with more (rather than less) resources and a cleaner environment…[2]

Cleaner environment has only come where there’s not too much socialism

In many cases, the overriding political imperative in socialist economies was increased industrial output, with little attention paid to accompanying air or water pollution…

When the Chernobyl accident occurred in the Soviet Union and the nuclear cloud was headed for Bulgaria the top government officials secreted themselves away in special shelters with ample supplies of food and water. Bulgarian citizens, however were not even informed that the disruption had happened and continued to eat contaminated fruit and vegetables.[3]

Cleaner environment is achieved after people get wealthy enough

The functional forms seem to reflect the relative costs and benefits that individuals and countries attach to addressing certain environmental problems at different stages of economic development. Water and sanitation, with relatively low costs and high private and social benefits are among the earliest environmental problems to be addressed. Local air pollution, which imposes external costs locally, but is relatively costly to abate, tends to be addressed when countries reach a middle income level. This is because air pollution problems tend to become more severe in middle income economies, which are often energy intensive and industrialized, and because the benefits are greater and more affordable.[4]

We find no evidence that environmental quality deteriorates steadily with economic growth. Rather, for most indicators, economic growth brings an initial phase of deterioration followed by a subsequent phase of improvement. The turning points for the different pollutants vary, but in most cases they come before a country reaches a per capita income of $8000.

GDP per capita at max level of pollution measurement shows cleaner environment when people get wealthier[5]

Even cleaner environment is achieved as people get even wealthier

Per capita air emissions of particulates less than 10 μm in diameter vs. per capita income for each individual state in the United States in 1990 shows cleaner environment when people get wealthier

Per capita air emissions of particulates less than 10 μm in diameter vs. per capita income for each individual state in the United States in 1990

Visually, the dominant feature across the set of figures is the greater variability of emission levels at low income levels. …the estimated variance for all pollutants decreased as income increased. The… curves… generally indicate a linear relationship between per capita emissions for the different classes of pollutants and per capita income, with a small number of high emitting outliers among the low-income states.[6]

  1. Ritchie, Hannah. “What the history of London’s air pollution can tell us about the future of today’s growing megacities.Our World in Data, 20 June 2017, Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.
  2. Simon, Julian L. “More people, greater wealth, more resources, healthier environment.” Economic Affairs 14.3 (Apr. 1994): 22-29.
  3. Hill, Peter J. “Environmental Problems under Socialism.” Cato Journal 12.2 (1992): 321-335.
  4. Shafik, Nemat. “Economic development and environmental quality: an econometric analysis.” Oxford Economic Papers 46.4 (1994): 757-774.
  5. Grossman, Gene M., and Alan B. Krueger. “Economic growth and the environment.” The quarterly journal of economics 110.2 (1995): 353-377.
  6. Carson, Richard T., Yongil Jeon, and Donald R. McCubbin. “The relationship between air pollution emissions and income: US data.” Environment and Development Economics 2.4 (1997): 433-450.

Climate model bias is incentivized in science, economics, and politics

Lower-Atmosphere Temperatures Predicted by United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Models and Measured by Satellites and Weather Balloons Demonstrate Climate Model Bias

Figure 64.1. Lower-Atmosphere Temperatures Predicted by United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Models and Measured by Satellites and Weather Balloons

Climate model bias is naturally selected by government-funded science

An accurate cost-benefit analysis can only be done if there is a reliable forecast for climate change and its specific impacts.

The… federal Interagency Working Group (IWG)… by relying on the output from published general circulation models (GCM) that simulate future climate as carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, is saying that those models are sufficient. They are not. The most logical interpretation of the ongoing (and increasing) disparity between the collectively modeled and observed temperatures (as shown in Figure 64.1 [above]) is that the forecast models are simply too sensitive to carbon dioxide changes.

Additionally, Congress should direct that all SCC calculations take into account the massive increase in global food production (valued at $3.2 trillion since 1950) that is a direct result of increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, as well as the nearly global increase in green vegetative matter. The current models used by the IWG to determine the SCC are woefully insufficient on these accounts.

A remarkable finding published in 2016 by the Royal Society, the national academy of science of the United Kingdom, may explain the time and money spent. It shows that the way we reward scientists is producing, in the authors’ words, increasingly “bad science.” A corollary is that, if the federal government suddenly disburses enormous amounts of funding for a given field, as it has for climate studies, then the quality of research will decline significantly.

Climate model bias makes for government-friendly economic analyses

Proponents of a carbon dioxide tax… cite something called the “social cost of carbon” (SCC). The Obama administration’s SCC was generated by a federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) that ignored specific… Office of Management and Budget (OMB)… directives with regard to the determination of the SCC and its use in cost-benefit analysis of federal actions.

“For regulatory analysis, you should provide estimates of net benefits using both 3 percent and 7 percent”—with a discount rate of 7 percent representing “an estimate of the average before-tax rate of return to private capital in the U.S. economy” and 3 percent reflecting the low case. Had the IWG included a 7 percent discount rate as guided by the OMB, they would have arrived at a substantially lower estimate of the SCC—some 80 percent (or more) below the current IWG mean SCC value.

“Your analysis should focus on benefits and costs that accrue to citizens and residents of the United States.” Yet the administration’s IWG reports (and subsequently relies upon) a value of the SCC determined from the accumulation of costs projected to occur across the globe while burying the U.S. domestic costs (which are estimated to be only 7 to 23 percent of the global value).

Climate model bias is used to weaken property rights and build dependence

…the Paris Agreement on climate change… states, “Developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.”

“Continuous and enhanced international support shall be provided to developing country Parties.”

“Developed country Parties shall biennially communicate indicative quantitative and qualitative information related to paragraphs 1 and 3 of this Article, as applicable, including, as available, projected levels of public financial resources to be provided to developing country Parties” [emphasis added].

Climate model bias is used to promote bigger government

First and foremost, Congress should turn down any legislative proposals for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, erroneously called a “carbon tax” by proponents. Such a tax would be as insidious as the income tax, which began as a very small levy but ultimately evolved into the fiscal and byzantine morass that it is today.

Legislators will never give up an equivalent amount of revenue that they could spend on desired projects. …we can’t “expect three trillion dollars to walk down K Street unmolested” by special interests and lobbies.[1]

  1. Michaels, Patrick J. and Paul C. Knappenberger. “Global Warming and Climate Change.” Cato Handbook for Policymakers, 8th ed., Cato Institute, 2017, pp. 627-636.

Energy use is all for consumers and their governments

Energy use flowchart shows that energy use is all directly or indirectly for consumers or governments.

Consumer and non-consumer energy use [1]

“If we have available energy, we may maintain life and produce every material requisite necessary. That is why the flow of energy should be the primary concern of economics…”[2]

The energy contents of the dollar and rouble are shown from 1900 to 2000.

The `energy content’ of money units [3]

The flow of energy is the primary concern of what has been come to be known as energy analysis… An important aspect of energy analysis is the determination of the total (direct and indirect) energy required for the production of economic or environmental goods and services. This total has been termed the embodied energy.

For example, the energy embodied in an automobile includes the energy consumed directly in the manufacturing plant plus all the energy consumed indirectly to produce the other inputs of auto manufacturing, such as glass, steel, labor, and capital.

Dollar value is graphed vs. energy use for all sectors in the economy.

Energy use vs. dollar value
in various direct and indirect energy-using sectors [2]

Most Americans think of energy use in terms of big-ticket items such as gasoline, heating oil, and natural gas. But a great deal of the energy we use is indirect, embedded in the things we buy.

…it is hard for consumers to change their direct energy use radically or quickly. Houses and cars are expensive, depreciating, long-lasting assets. Household energy efficiency modifications can be costly, unsightly, inconvenient, or all of the above.

Pondering the difficulties involved in cutting back on energy use led us to an offshoot of the energy literature pertaining to indirect energy use—that is, the energy embedded in virtually everything we buy.

An example of this is the manufacturing and sale of a simple cotton t-shirt. Energy is required to grow and harvest the cotton; transport it to a factory; make, package, and transport the chemicals used to bleach, dye, or condition the cotton; run the machines on which the t-shirt is processed; create packaging materials; ship the t-shirt to the store; and keep the heat and lights on in the store.

Indirect energy use in different sectors is tabulated as a percent of total indirect energy use.

Those who want to reduce their energy consumption but are unable or unwilling to forego the roomier house or car can cut down on discretionary medical purchases; minimize pharmaceutical waste; cut back on air travel; and replace high-energy foods (beef and refined grain products) with lower-energy foods such as poultry, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables.[4]

  1. Bin, Shui, and Hadi Dowlatabadi. “Consumer lifestyle approach to US energy use and the related CO2 emissions.” Energy policy 33.2 (2005): 197-208.
  2. Costanza, Robert. “Embodied energy and economic valuation.” Science 210.4475 (1980): 1219-1224.
  3. Beaudreau, Bernard C., and Vladimir N. Pokrovskii. “On the energy content of a money unit.” Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications 389.13 (2010): 2597-2606.
  4. Green, Kenneth P., and Aparna Mathur. “Measuring and Reducing Americans’ Indirect Energy Use.” AEI Energy and Environment Outlook (2008).