Gore: Subsidizing Dirty Energy?

August 19th, 2008

It's true, this idea came along as Will Wilkinson was rather frantically back- or re-pedaling from a previous everything's-going-so-WELL post of his, said pedaling being necessary because Felix Salmon pointed out that the original post made no sense at all:

Will’s argument, it seems to me, seems to rely on the peculiar idea
that we’ll run out of fossil fuels just in time to avert environmental
catastrophe

But still: there's an important idea amid that pedaling that I hadn't considered before, and that I haven't seen discussed. (Probably just due to my lack of reading in the field, but in any case.)

At a point in the not-distant future, there will be large-scale substitution to the alternatives in these rich countries.
The effect of this will be to ease demand for extractive energy
sources, dramatically bringing down the price of coal and oil on the
world market, making them that much more attractive to developing economies, who will then burn them in the least clean way.

And, I might add, burn more of them. I find this logic irrefutable. (Somebody please prove me wrong.)

As for the long-term macroeconomic ricochet effects, well—to quote our next president—that's beyond my pay grade.

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