CATO CHAIRMAN TELLS SENATORS A GLOBAL WARMING TREATY IS PREMATURE

A. C. Szul mack97 at EROLS.COM
Fri Oct 3 19:08:48 MDT 1997


CATO CHAIRMAN TELLS SENATORS A GLOBAL WARMING TREATY IS PREMATURE
Niskanen: Rush to judgment would be a "serious mistake"

"Our nation risks a serious mistake in the rush to judgment on the
proposed global warming treaty," William A. Niskanen, chairman of the
Cato Institute, said in testimony to the Senate Committee on Energy and
Natural Resources. "The major economic issues that underlie this
treaty are not sufficiently understood."

Niskanen, who was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers under
President Reagan, noted that a number of economists have investigated
the possible consequences of such a treaty, with results that weigh
heavily in favor of more careful study. For example,

* Hoover Institute economist Thomas Gale Moore estimates that moderate
warming in the United States could generate net benefits of about 1
percent of U.S. output.

* There appears to be little reason for an early decision on global
warming: the costs of doing nothing appear quite small, but the costs of
a major commitment to limit emissions or atmospheric concentrations are
very large. Yale economist William Nordhaus estimates that the worldwide
cost of global warming would be about 1.3 percent of world economic
product in 2050, but the net cost of stabilizing emissions at the 1990
level would be about $7.5 trillion (in 1989 dollars).

Niskanen pointed out that less extreme and less costly methods, such as
reforestation and spreading trace quantities of iron in the oceans, may
well be sufficient to offset the effects of increased carbon emissions.
Furthermore, the proposed treaty would exempt poor countries, despite
the fact that they will soon produce about half of global carbon dioxide
emissions. That would increase the relative cost to developed nations
and substantially dilute and delay any net reduction in emissions.

Niskanen added that, while some modest near-term measures might be
valuable, "there are too many scientific, economic, and political issues
yet to be resolved to support an early commitment to control the
emissions of greenhouse gases."

Testimony of William A. Niskanen
(http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-wn093097.html)


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