by Art Woolf
The Vermont legislature is going to hear a lecture, presumably about global warming, from Vermont's most well-known environmental advocate, Bill McKibben. I'm pretty sure that the Speaker of the House's invitation for someone to address the Legislature while it is in session is a very rare event. And Vermont Public Radio is interrupting its regular schedule to broadcast the lecture. Also a rare event.
One might wonder why the legislature is going to hear a lecture, and not a debate. Isn't the House floor precisely a place for debates, and not just a lecture? Why isn't the Speaker also inviting someone with a different take on the issue? Such as Bjorn Lomborg, for example. Or Ross McKitrick.
That's probably not going to happen. So I hope legislators ask Mr. McKibben questions like:
1. If Vermont adopted all of his recommendations for policy changes, what would be the impact on whatever he thinks the rise in global temperatures will be over the next 25, 50, or 100 years. (My answer is zero, and I hope Mr. McKibben's is not something like, "as goes Vermont, so goes the nation.")
2. If the U.S. adopted all of his recommentdations for policy changes, what would be the impact on whatever he thinks the rise in global temperatures will be over the next 25, 50, or 100 years. (My answer is not much, since most of the increase in projected atmospheric carbon comes from the developing world, not the developed world (here, p 139).
3. Back to Vermont. What would it cost Vermonters if Vermont adopted all of his recommendations for reducting climate change (an unacceptable answer is that there is no economic cost, only economic benefits)?
4. Given those costs, and the answer to my question 1 (my answer, at least), why do you recommend spending that amount of money on something that will have no impact on worldwide environmental quality? Wouldn't that money be better spent, if you want to spend it on environmental improvements, on cleaning up Lake Champlain, an effort that is projected to cost $156 million annually, but will lead to measurable improvements in water quality?
5. What do I recommend? Try reading Tim Taylor's brief take on the issue.