NCPA writer Pete Geddes begins by saying, “Assuming the worst with respect to climate change, greater consumption of fossil fuels is reasonably likely to result in serious environmental harm.” Fair enough.
Then Geddes goes on to suggest that we should ignore that serious environmental harm because air quality is generally better in rich countries.
If that sounds like a non sequitur - like a goofy, unrelated distraction - don't be alarmed. That's clearly how it was intended.
No one (except Pete Geddes) is suggesting that good climate change policy stands in the way of giving the best in technology to the developing world. On the contrary. Emission trading schemes are designed to benefit developing countries the most.
The best greenhouse gas policies would also promote innovation in countries that are already rich - perhaps especially in the one country that is richer than any other and that is currently responsible for 25 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Such innovations could then be shared with the developing world, speeding the path to prosperity and avoiding the “serious environmental harm” of which Mr. Geddes warns.
Geddes concludes: “Furthermore, since the truly serious consequences of climate change will not appear for many decades, we should not worry so much about the welfare of future, wealthier and more technologically advanced generations while depriving today's most destitute. Thus, the best climate change policy is to emphasize present economic growth, especially in the developing world.”
Geddes isn't standing up for “today's most destitute.” He's defending the rights of Exxon and Peabody coal to continue peddling a dangerous technological mix in China and India - without taking any responsibility for the damage that technology will do.
As to the serious consequences of climate change not appearing for many decades, I'm sure there are still some vacant accommodations in New Orleans where Mr. Geddes could take some time to think that over more carefully.