You may have seen this AP story on the "surprising" drop in CO2 emissions, bringing them back to 1992 levels. One explanation for this drop is that a number of US power plants have shifted from caol to natural gas. The latter drastically reduces CO2 output/emission. So what explains this switch?
Well to economists it's no surprise: relative prices.
Natural gas has become significantly cheaper, leading more plants to switch over. One reason gas is cheaper, of course, is fracking technology. So our environmentalist friends have a bit of a quandry here: opposing fracking means opposing cheaper natural gas, which means opposing getting rid of those dirty, CO2 producting coal-fired power plants. Once again, profit signals lead entrepreneurs to find substitutes for expensive, dirty processes, in turn leading them to develop new technologies that create usable and valuable resources where none exisxted before. This drives down prices of that substitute, which leads to it replacing the old dirty technology.
Julian Simon, take a bow.
If you read the AP story, you will find the usual environmentalist hemming and hawing about how "this isn't really a solution" and the "irony" of natural gas reducing CO2 emissions. It's not ironic folks. You think it's ironic because you refuse to listen to what economists and people like Julian have been saying for decades: markets solve these problems better than top-down mandates.
Note also the surprise at the fact that power plants converted so quickly from coal to gas. This is not surprising to anyone witih a basic knowledge of economics. Profit signals are powerful and people respond to relative price changes. That's Econ 101, week 2. The same folks who are surprised by this were also surprised by the quick conversion after WWII. Surprise in this case is just a fancy word for "ignorance."
The evidence for the arguments of Julian Simon and others has perhaps never been more clear than in this story, yet the real dogmatists are not those of us who are skeptical not of climate change science but of the accompanying social science and policy, rather the dogmatists are those who keep denying the power of market processes even when the evidence is right in front of them.
Is it too much to ask for that examples like this might lead to some rethinking of their dogma? Probably.