Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bjorn Lomborg on Green Jobs

I've mentioned Mr. Lomborg several times on this blog--just enter his name in the search box at the top (or preferably the one at the bottom) of this page to see other posts. To cut to the quick, he's a leftie Danish vegetarian environmentalist who believes in anthropogenic global warming.

He also makes sense when discussing how to deal with it.

In this article he puts the lie to the idea of "green jobs":

Political rhetoric has shifted away from the need to respond to the "generational challenge" of climate change. Investment in alternative energy technologies like solar and wind is no longer peddled on environmental grounds. Instead, we are being told of the purported economic payoffs—above all, the promise of so-called "green jobs." Unfortunately, that does not measure up to economic reality.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center asked Gürcan Gülen, a senior energy economist at the Bureau for Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, to assess the state of the science in defining, measuring, and predicting the creation of green jobs. Gülen concluded that job creation "cannot be defended as another benefit" of well-meaning green policies. In fact, the number of jobs that these policies create is likely to be offset—or worse—by the number of jobs that they destroy.

On the face of it, green-job creation seems straightforward. Deploying more wind turbines and solar panels creates a need for more builders, technicians, tradesmen, and specialist employees. Voilà: Simply by investing in green policies, we have not only helped the climate but also lowered unemployment. Indeed, this is the essence of many studies that politicians are eagerly citing. So what did those analyses get wrong?

And then he tells us.

The end of the first page ends thusly:

The fundamental problem is that green-energy technologies are still very inefficient and expensive compared to fossil fuels. Deploying less efficient, more expensive alternative-energy sources will hurt businesses and consumers, not help them.

As I said, I like the way he addresses his concerns with an economics mindset. Go read the entire article for yourself if you want to find out what's on page 2.

Update, 2/14/11: Check out this book on Amazon :-)

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