Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Green Jobs Again

FLG got in a discussion yesterday about the fiction of a Green Economy as a means of economic growth. The Green Economy can provide business models, by which FLG means opportunities for individual firms, but it will make us all worse of economically. Now, this worse off is measured in dollar terms, and does not take into account the external costs of global warming, which is the entire point of internalizing the costs through cap-n-trade, etc. So, overall we may be better off by trading measurable economic output for a less warm climate. But the idea that Green Jobs are an economic growth strategy is fucking retarded. FLG explained why previously and will simply repost that explanation here:
"Green Jobs" created by environmental and economic policy will be the equivalent of the old economic example about breaking windows.

Let's break half of everybody's windows. This will create jobs in the glass and window industries until, of course, they repair all the windows, at which time, we will have to break half of everybody's windows again.

Obviously, breaking the windows is a destruction of wealth. The money that could go to other uses, like buying a big screen tv or a kid's education, is instead diverted toward buying new windows every year. Sure, it creates jobs but at the expense of other jobs and people's wishes. The mutually beneficial transactions that make free market economics so useful have been subverted.

When the proponents of green energy subsidies tout the jobs that will be created or fret over the jobs that will disappear I always roll my eyes. Because jobs that rely upon a subsidy are like the window and glass jobs above. They require forcefully taking resources from everybody else.

Perhaps the people making glass and windows will become so good at their jobs that they will draw in window making business from neighboring areas. Likewise, perhaps the United States will become so good at creating green technology that they will draw orders from around the world. But one never knows. The creation of jobs in and of itself means nothing. Furthermore, the demand for green technology is largely political, not economic in nature. Dirty energy is more cost effective, and even the best estimates of improved green technology are about making it competitive with dirty technology. And by competitive they mean slightly more expensive, but not enough that people complain about being forced to pay for it.

I'm not saying that promoting clean energy isn't worthwhile, but what I am saying is that the claim that it will create jobs means almost nothing.

When the government mandates that individuals and firms replace certain equipment, then it is very much, economically speaking, like breaking windows. In fact, the subsidies to replace windows with more energy efficient ones is really, if you think about it, paying people to break their windows and buy new ones.


George Pal said...

“Economic growth” is lip service reverie pays reality; when the shit hits Iberia you may end up smelling bad but at least you can feel good about yourself – theoretically.

Anonymous said...

Did you catch this in The Times over the weekend?

"Britain’s premier scientific institution is being forced to review its statements on climate change after a rebellion by members who question mankind’s contribution to rising temperatures.

"The Royal Society has appointed a panel to rewrite the 350-year-old institution’s official position on global warming. It will publish a new “guide to the science of climate change” this summer. The society has been accused by 43 of its Fellows of refusing to accept dissenting views on climate change and exaggerating the degree of certainty that man-made emissions are the main cause.

"The society appears to have conceded that it needs to correct previous statements. It said: “Any public perception that science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect — there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements.” This contradicts a comment by the society’s previous president, Lord May, who was once quoted as saying: “The debate on climate change is over.”

"The admission that the society needs to conduct the review is a blow to attempts by the UN to reach a global deal on cutting emissions. The Royal Society is viewed as one of the leading authorities on the topic and it nominated the panel that investigated and endorsed the climate science of the University of East Anglia."

Mrs. P

George Pal said...

“Any public perception that science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect”

Any perception this is Algore’s week is wholly incorrect.

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