The Blog

Cap and Trade = Prohibition?

9:52 AM, Feb 27, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Some interesting testimony by William Happer, Professor of Physics at Princeton University:

I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind. I predict that future historians will look back on this period much as we now view the period just before the passage of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution to prohibit "the manufacturing, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors." At the time, the 18th amendment seemed to be exactly the right thing to do - who wanted to be in league with demon rum? It was the 1917 version of saving the planet. More than half the states enacted prohibition laws before the 18th amendment was ratified. Only one state, Rhode Island, voted against the 18th amendment. Two states, Illinois and Indiana, never got around to voting and all the rest voted for it. There were many thoughtful people, including a majority of Rhode Islanders, who thought that prohibition might do more harm than good. But they were completely outmatched by the temperance movement, whose motives and methods had much in common with the movement to stop climate change. Deeply sincere people thought they were saving humanity from the evils of alcohol, just as many people now sincerely think they are saving humanity from the evils of CO2. Prohibition was a mistake, and our country has probably still not fully recovered from the damage it did. Institutions like organized crime got their start in that era. Drastic limitations on CO2 are likely to damage our country in analogous ways.

But what about the frightening consequences of increasing levels of CO2 that we keep hearing about? In a word, they are wildly exaggerated, just as the purported benefits of prohibition were wildly exaggerated. Let me turn now to the science and try to explain why I and many scientists like me are not alarmed by increasing levels of CO2.

Happer doesn't dispute the current warming, just the cause -- and the potential impact. The statement is not that long and very well written. It's worth reading in full.