Paul Krugman celebrates his Nobel Prize in Polemics by declaring that all those who disagree with him on global warming are traitors to the planet. No, I am not sure what that means either, but it certainly sets a high rhetorical bar - presumably those who disagree with him on health care reform are traitors to humanity, but what about those who disagree with him on the wisdom of nationalizing Citicorp? Are we merely traitors to our debit cards, or does Krugman contemplate a more dramatic charge?
Well. Let me not come between you and some lunatic ravings:
Deadly heat waves that only occur once in a generation will soon become annual events. Hmm. My guess is that one major reason a rare, unusual heat wave is so deadly is because - stay with me on this - it is rare and unusual. The good people of the great city of Phoenix have a word for the sort of weather that would be a record breaking heat wave in New York City; that word is "normal". Yet my summer reading does not include headlines of people dropping in the streets of Phoenix like pop flies over the NY Mets infield. Or turn it around - why, one might wonder, does Washington DC struggle during a snow storm that Buffalo would handle with panache? Familiarity may not breed contempt but it inspires preparation.
That is about 850 deaths per year. Each untimely death is tragic and Krugman is surely vexed that this number might rise. But by way of comparison, a 2002 study estimated that higher CAFE standards would put Americans in smaller cars and result in an additional 2,000 deaths per year; Krugman, as a party-line progressive, surely supports higher CAFE standards. I denounce Krugman as a traitor to the national highway system! Not to mention as a traitor to the safety of my wife and kids.
And let's press on with the USGCRP "science":
The number of deaths will double or quadruple? Geez, that is pretty grim. Of course, as the report notes, the United States population is getting larger, older, fatter, and more diabetic, so all sorts of death rates are rising. Just for starters, since the population is getting older, what is the heat wave related death rate per hundred thousand for folks aged 65 to 85? The USGCRP may know, but they aren't telling - all they deliver is an aggregate deaths per 6 million (but they do tell us that the proportion of the US population over 65 will rise from 12 percent to 21 percent by 2050).
My goodness - if this had been delivered under George Bush earnest libs would have hollered that this slippery presentation represented the worst sort of phony, politicized science . Fortunately, it came out under Obama and tells the story Krugman wants told, so he is delighted to cite it.
Back to Special K:
Jiminy, Krugman sounds like he just learned he won't be able to chill his white wine. Relax, prof, there will be ice in the future. Annual heat weaves are a clear and present danger unless we can invent air conditioners and remind people to flip them on.
I DEPLORE THIS FALSE EQUIVALENCE: Andrew Sullivan misses the distinction between traitors to the planet and traitors to their party.
BUT SERIOUSLY: We will let Krugman bash Al Gore while we boost Bjorn Lomborg, the Skeptical Environmentalist, in this old piece. Key point:
And just to state the ought-to-be-obvious - Lomborg has parted company (as have I) with the folks who argue that humans have not contributed to global warming. His position is that, to whatever extent we have, global warming is just one of many problems and that making it a top priority would be a major mis-allocation of resources.
As an economist, this notion of a cost-benefit analysis ought to be familiar to Krugman. Ought to be.