Health-Care Costs and Climate Change

By James Kwak

That’s the average global temperature from 1998 through 2008, according to NASA. This, of course, is what enabled George Will to write, in 2009, “according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade.”

Of course, George Will is just a run-of-the-mill climate change denier with a gift for mis-using statistics. In this case, he was probably citing a World Meteorological Organization study that said, “The long-term upward trend of global warming, mostly driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is continuing. . . . The decade from 1998 to 2007 has been the warmest on record.” And here’s the long-term picture, also from NASA:

You all know this, so why am I bringing it up?

Well, look at this, from J. D. Kleinke of AEI in The Wall Street Journal:

Those are annual percentage changes in nominal terms, so his point is that annual increases are going down. But what does the long term look like?

That’s health care spending as a share of the economy, so we don’t have to worry about correcting for inflation (as we do with Kleinke’s graph). Do you think the trend is up or down?

There is some difference between rising temperatures and rising health care spending. Temperatures are rising because there is too much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, and that is something we are not going to be able to change in the short run. Health care costs are somewhat more responsive to changes in behavior by companies and households, so it is possible that health care inflation could be slowing down.

But health care costs are also a lot like climate change. We have ever-improving medical technology, and we have a health care system where the usual incentives to contain costs are weak and the incentives to run up costs are strong. In that environment, even if there are short-term changes that keep costs from growing quickly for a few years, as occurred with managed care in the 1990s, the long-term trend is still up—and we should be cautious about declaring victory as long as the structural problems have not gone away.

So people from AEI cherry-pick statistics to make their political points. So what?

I only heard about Kleinke’s article because it was cited by Jeff Sachs (hat tip Mark Thoma) in order to combat what he calls “entitlements hysteria.” In Sachs’s view, doomsday projections of health care costs are being used to fuel deficit hysteria and demands to cut government spending, especially on health care.

That is certainly true. But the fact that conservatives use those projections to argue for their policy goals (like turning Social Security into a 401(k) plan and Medicare into a voucher program) doesn’t mean those projections are systematically biased. It’s true that the long-term projections are likely to be wrong in one direction or the other, but we don’t know which one. Health care spending could grow faster than the CBO projects (CBO models already incorporate a long-term slowdown in the rate of growth of health care spending), in which case the fiscal crisis of the 2030s would hit in the 2020s.

To my mind, if the central projection shows very bad things a long time from now, but there is a wide cone of uncertainty around the central projection, that is all the  more reason to take action now to prevent the bad things from happening.  That’s my opinion about climate change. Sure, temperatures might not rise as fast as we currently expect, and Nathan Myhrvold might invent a magical cure for global warming in the meantime. But things could also go much worse than the current models indicate, and we need to be prepared for that scenario—not just discounting it to nothing because of the uncertainty.

Most liberals (people like me) take this view about climate change, but they take the opposite view of government deficits and the national debt: they think we should not be worried about the debt today because the projections could turn out to be wrong. Many conservatives take exactly opposed positions: they worry about the national debt (because the projections look bad) but not about climate change (because the projections have a big cone of uncertainty).

I worry about climate change and about health care costs and the long-term national debt. Sure, health care inflation could slow down, but it could also speed up. I differ from the folks at AEI in that I think we should preserve Social Security and Medicare and we can pay for them through a lot of tax changes that will be good for the economy on balance (higher capital gains taxes, carbon tax, elimination of tax expenditures, etc.). I also think that major policy changes should be deferred until the economy is stronger, if possible. But the bottom line is that the uncertainty is reason for action, not inaction.

49 thoughts on “Health-Care Costs and Climate Change

  1. I know why health care expenditures stopped rising as fast in 2008: the Great Recession. Lots of people lost their health insurance; lots of people still working couldn’t afford their copays. Altogether, many people avoided all possible medical encounters for financial reasons.

    For example, I stopped going to the dentist. I would have gone if I had a horrible toothache, but work was too hard to come by and my finances too fragile for checkups and dental hygiene. Only in 2011, last summer, did I resume going to the dentist regularly.

  2. I agree with JoyfulA. I know of several people that just don’t go to the doctor, don’t buy their meds or don’t have test procedures performed because they can’t afford the co-pay or have lost their healthcare insurance altogether. A few years ago my co-pay went from $20.00 per office visit to a $2400.00 annual reoccurring deductable. Healthcare insurance industry is a scam. Twenty years ago they said costs could be kept under control by implementing HMOs and having the insurance company dictate appropriate medical services. Instead costs continued to skyrocket and the quality of service decreased as insurance companies refused to cover procedures they considered unnecessary. Now their main focus appears to be the company share price instead of covering medical services people need.

  3. Come on, the recession is why the healthcare share of the economy turned upward while nominal costs were flattening. I’ll go with Sachs on this one. There are better ways to fight AEI than having to emulate George Will’s analytical methods to retain the doomsday scenario.

  4. Has anyone read “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson?
    Here is one part that I think somewhat pertains to the political atmosphere that we find ourselves in:
    This new reality forced colored parents to search for ways to explain the insanity of the caste system to their uncomprehending children. When two little girls in 1930s Florida wanted to know why they couldn’t play on a swing like the white children or had to sit in a dirty waiting room instead of the clean one, their father, the theologian Howard Thurman, had to think about how best to make them understand. “The measure of a man’s estimate of your strength,” he finally told them, “is the kind of weapons he feels he must use in order to hold you fast in a prescribed place.”
    I think this can be made to apply to our current political situation. The right feels it must use weapons such as lying, cherry-picking data, playing on the fears of “low information voters”, plowing excessive amounts of cash to finance the Heartland Institute, AEI, Heritage, and Fox “News”, constantly pushing the fantasy that Fannie, Freddie, and Barney brought the world economy to its knees by themselves.
    They can’t propose an honest argument because they don’t have one. I have sympathy for some conservative views. Self-reliance, hard work, taking responsibility for your actions. Most of us would agree with these. But, that’s not how we are portrayed by Rush Limbaugh and the rest.
    This indicates the measure of their estimate of our strength. They know we have credible arguments that cannot be countered without compromise. That is why they resort to the lies they use.

  5. Hey Rich,
    Don’t know if you’ve been paying attention for the last 50, heck 50,000 years-but lies work: ie ‘we’re invading to protect you’; ‘government spending is bad, put that govt. check under my door’; ‘all that carbon put in the air since Indust. Rev. is to give scientists jobs’; ‘am shocked, shocked you think quid pro would be involved in Insurance-Military-Banking-Media-Energy-etc legislation; oh, and pretty much anything said by anyone in D.C., very much including Pres. Obama and Blue Dogs.

    Just have to assume that everything is a lie-makes understanding much simpler.

  6. Hey, what were temps in 1780? 1680? 280? 80?

    Your entire premise is that the “deniers” like to cherry pick data to show a trend that fits their narrative, yet when you show 130 years worth of global temps for a planet that has existed for over 4 billion years, and present those temps as the be all and end all, you are committing the ultimate cherry pick.

    Perhaps it would be more instructive for your readers had you at least included the temperatures from the Medieval Warm Period and the LIttle Ice Age. At least then your readers would be able to see that our current temperatures fall well-within the range of natural variation.

  7. Really? The premium of my plan rose almost 10% last year and the deductible doubled. Even time I pay more for health care, I spend less in the economy. My income is not going up and inflation is destroying my buying power.

  8. @1 Kings,
    Yeah, I understand all that. They all lie, they all suck, to hell with them all. What’s your point? Governments have lied and manipulated people since before the days of Bread and Circus. Does that mean we have to put up with it, especially when it rises to the level we currently see in our country?
    The false arguments these right-wing demagogues are making have gotten so ridiculous that not a day goes by that I don’t encounter one of their followers blindly repeating the talking points. These are people I know are highly intelligent engineers, much smarter than me, who should know better, especially when it comes to global warming.
    The left and the right are not equally at fault here. I have lost patience with the false centrist claims that both sides do it. People to the left of Ann Coulter (about 80% of the population, I guess) are not angels who are totally honest public servants and well-informed citizens, but we are not anywhere near as bad as the birthers, the deathers, the AGW deniers, the creationists, etc, etc.
    Right-wing demagoguery has fostered a dangerous level of ignorance in our country. Nothing outside of the extreme right even comes close.
    As an example of right-wing ignorance, let’s look at the post left by
    @AGW Sceptic
    He pulls out the old temperature snapshots from various points in time, and dismisses everything else that supports the AGW theory, and pats himself on the back for knowing better than thousands of scientists who have been working the problem for decades. What a genius. Look what 5 minutes of Hannity can do for you.

  9. If you look at the data on the growth in health care expenditures since 1980 you can see that the recent observations shown in the WSJ article are just a continuation of a trend that has been in place for 30 years.

    So the weaker spending in recent years in something more than the impact of the last recession on spending.

  10. I think Lawyers should be required to take a minimum amount of science courses :-) – at least basic CPR would do…

    The Earth’s atmosphere was not designed, imagined or constructed by human beings. Someone else came up with the idea to *build* something that would allow the perfect amount of sunlight to reach the earth to support life. The fact that scientists can’t agree on how something functions perfectly for what it was designed to do says a lot about how scientists aren’t *learning* about what IS – so time to go back to the drawing board and step away from cherry-picking data and *policy* idea-logs…

    The proper care of ALL *LIFE* on earth means that a *macro* view as to how to do that is the LOGICAL and pragmatic goal. So review how *macro* industries like big $$$$ professional sports can take care of their *special needs* human talent (commodity, really) without forcing everyone to keep sending over-priced monthly premiums to for-profit health insurance companies to pay for the upkeep of a specialty commodity like athletes. That should be a place to start for those who focus on *lifestyle* changes to *save* $$$$ for god-knows-who to get those *savings*…in other words, if all you know how to do is approach every problem with micro-managing the details of the *least among us*, then it’s hard not to see that the over-riding intention of all such intellectual heaving is about not taking care of LIFE.

    So next time how about the apples and oranges of Super Bowl and Health Care Costs?

  11. Studies of very long term climatic changes, such as ice cores, show that over the long term, rising and falling global temperatures go along with rising and falling amounts of greenhouse gases, which is what would be expected by the nature of these gases.
    Of course, that is no the only factor. Volcanic action which throws a lot of dust into the air can cause a temporary cooling for a few years. The black death killed so many people it decreased the amount of greenhouse gases being produced until the population recovered.

  12. In reply to AGW Skeptic, I also wish people would routinely include the best current estimate of temperatures from the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, and from the real Ice Ages come to that.

    Then we could truly see whether the current moves appear to be within the range of natural variation or not. FWIW, I personally believe they are not.

    (And my BIG worry, as a non-scientist, is that there may be a significant time lag in seeing the effects of CO2 forcing. If that’s the case we’re in trouble, because you can safely bet sufficient action won’t be taken until the problem has manifested itself beyond any reasonable doubt.)

  13. Neat trick to misrepresent or misinterpret historical graphs in order to set up a straw man and waste our time. Enough of this nonsense! Bring in Simon to discuss matters that he understands very well.

  14. @hewata, “….Then we could truly see whether the current moves appear to be within the range of natural variation or not….”

    Considering how much carbon dioxide there was in the atmosphere at one point during the construction of the *perfect* atmosphere, what is an interesecting line – ie. had 10 here and here on the timeline – going to reveal to you?

    Scientifically, there have never been 7 billion people on the planet before, and all at the same time. It’s LUDICROUS to say that there won’t be a problem with pollution…and where were all the energy industry geniuses when they were burning off millions of cubic feet of the trapped gases they had to dig through to get to the oil….? That was so SIMPLPY retarded that there’s no way they have the *street creds*…

    Even more annoyed today at Kwak putting these 2 topics together – brown nosing gone wild….

  15. Inconvenient facts about AGW that advocates like to ignore:
    1. CO2 cycles have existed far longer than man’s ability to hypothetically influence planet Earth’s climate and atmospheric CO2 concentration. This article looks at 650,000 years of data. So no cherry picking of data. The latest long term upswing began 12,500 yrs ago or so. Prior to that it was 135,000 yrs ago, and 250,000 and 355,000, etc.
    2. Atmospheric Physicist methodically takes apart the ability of increasing CO2 levels to add meaningfully to temperature variation, and in other ways dismantles the Junk Science supposedly supporting AGW.
    3. Former “alarmist” scientist says Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) based in false science.
    4. Warming causes the increase CO2, not the other way around as advocated by proponents of AGW.,Temperaturesandiceages-f.pdf
    5. Atmospheric CO2 is a trace component of total atmospheric gases and a very small component of greenhouse gases.
    6. Global Warming: Are We Confusing Cause and Effect? (more science)
    Suggestion to AGW proponents: Look to the Sun/Solar activity for better explanations, and enjoy the interglacial period, while it lasts..

  16. The only reason that solar activity matters, NOW, is because of the those holes in the protective layer of the atmosphere. Duh.

    Still think Super Bowl or World Series of Baseball macro economics and Health Care Costs would have been a better apples and oranges weapon of mass distraction – no science, just $$$$.

    With all the problems to solve, this is puerile and sociopathic, not intellectual power in service to LIFE.

    “Of all the forms of inequality,
    injustice in health care is the most
    shocking and inhumane.”
    – Dr. Martin Luther King
    For Years Now:
    June 2010
    Pete Peterson’s Media Empire
    Conflicts are OK when you have an anti-entitlement agenda
    By Julie Hollar
    “Peter G. Peterson is on a crusade to end Social Security as we know it, and he’s spread his tentacles throughout the media.
    Peterson, investment banker and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, is also a co-founder of the Concord Coalition, a trustee of the Committee for Economic Development and a board member of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Peterson has long been a corporate media favorite (Extra!, 3–4/97), but since 2008, he’s also poured money into making his own media—via his Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a $1 billion behemoth dedicated to “fiscal sustainability issues related to federal deficits, entitlement programs and tax policies.”
    The Peterson Foundation is behind IOUSA, the scaremongering documentary about the national debt and the need to cut entitlement programs.”
    11 November 2008
    Emory University’s Institute for Advanced Policy Solutions (IAPS) has received a $600,000, one-year grant from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to establish a Center for Entitlement Reform. The new Center for Entitlement Reform is one of only a few university-based research centers in the U.S. focusing on federal health care entitlement reform.


    “Breaking” News:
    Lake Vostok ….Antartica
    (Some Physicists claim that massive Methane deposits could escape as massive bubble releases that could change the climate of the earth…aka ; lethal…)

  19. @Rich S.: very good!
    It’s a bit more complicated and not all that clear on development or failure. The potential “spill” of massive amounts of methane would be about on par with the end of the dinosaurs from environmental impact;
    …and there is certainly enough there in the underground Lake to potentially pose a reasonable question (and it is not a secret).
    However consider this excerpt:
    A Possible Mechanism For
    Ice Age And Global Warming Cycles
    “Recent discoveries about the existence of a vast band of Methane Hydrate Ice along the world’s continental Slopes, at approx. 500 meters depth, have revolutionized the theories of the Ice Age and Global Warming Cycles. The accumulation of Methane Ice leads to Ice Ages and the rapid melting and effervescence of this ice and gas leads to and equally rapid Global Warming.”

    But consider this part that projects a perfect world:

    “The Methane Ice reserves are very large and accessible. If we could simply put a pieline down into this ice, we may be able to pump it up to the nearest shore and create important new areas of coastal development far greater than previous civilizations. Energy this cheap could allow us to desalinize sea water and power all of our civilization. This development could be very remarkable in undeveloped arid coastal areas such as Baja California and the west coast of South America, which are very near the Continental Slope. Desalinized sea water is the key to development in these areas. Cheap clean electricity and fuel would revolutionize the whole world.”

    The answer to peak oil is a risky control of a new form of energy…and how to harness it in a way to make it profitable. They are not looking for gold at the Ice Caps…much more than that!

  20. The two links I provided above from Huffington post are about the Russians reportedly breaking through to the Lake through the Ice just this past month. The Physicist I mentioned is a top physicist in our country who happened to be an acquaintance of mine at one time. However, the topic is not widely known in the popular media but has been a concern among related sciences for some time:
    “In 2008 the United States Department of Energy National Laboratory system[18] and the United States Geological Survey’s Climate Change Science Program both identified potential clathrate destabilization in the Arctic as one of four most serious scenarios for abrupt climate change, which have been singled out for priority research. The USCCSP released a report in late December 2008 estimating the gravity of this risk.[19]”
    The article is worth a reading…nothing is absolutely clear and I can tell you that information is less now then it was five years ago!
    I wonder why?

  21. The denier side of the argument is focused on the status quo, and shielding and advancing oil and energy oligarchs, agra oligarchs, lumber oligarchs, pharma (ie fertilizer) oligarchs, and numerous other industrial complexes that reap outrageous fortunes exploiting, pillaging and irreparably damaging ecosystems, and natural products. These monsters imagine the toxic and deleterious enterprises carry no costs (since they stupidly are focused on shorterm profits). But there are very real, very long term costs no matter how much science is denied or besmirched.

    The other side of this debate is more nuanced. There is no universal agreement on what exactly is happening here on earth or what exactly are the causes – but there is an innate understanding and appreciation the many of the earths vital resources are finite, and man’s impact on local environments is impacting.

    The former hold no concern for future generations – so mystified are they by otherworldly profits. The latter sense our trajectories are unhealthy and unsustainable and denying reality is a recipe for disaster – no matter how much shorterm profits select oligarchs obligate.

    If deniers are right, then all is well in the land of Oz and let the oligarchs pollute and devour to their cold hard hearts content.

    If the rest of us are right – there is little time left address these issues before real horrorshow environmental calamities rain and spread upon the earth.

    Research drinkable water issues imbeciles, and get back to me. We will have hell to pay for your ignorance and wanton profiteering. The sun shines it’s light equally and without restraint or prejudice on the great and small, the good and bad, the enlightened and the dim – so darkness falls on all of us equally.


  22. Well we do know the glaciers of the world are melting as to growing. Make of that what you will, they don’t come back without a catastrophic ice age. And we should be looking more at wave and wind generated power possibilities, among others. But we are not, we were in [and still are] denile with the focus on 3 years party politics and one year what have you done for me lately. Pass the $20/wk tax cut and then give that back to gas man in the biggest tax hike in human history in the form of rising fuel prices and all that goes with that. Try to take over one Arab country at a time, we were at it long ago in Iran. Between 1953 and 1963 much poverty remained among the Iranian people, and the gap between the rich and poor grew. There was talk of the oligarchy of one thousand families. The Shah increased Iran’s tie with the United States. His agreement with a western oil consortium annoyed many, and some were annoyed by the presence of many Americans. Some Iranians saw the United States as having taken the place of the British. The Iranian people began to protest which started the oil embargo of 1973, On November 7, 1978, the Shah broadcast on television another promise not to repeat past mistakes and to make amends. By November 18 the Shah was deeply depressed. Many soldiers were no longer willing to fire into crowds. The question whether the Shah should crush opposition to his rule with overwhelming military force was no longer relevant. The Shah agreed to go abroad for a vacation. He accepted a new government led by an old opponent, the head of the dissident National Front, Shahpour Bakhtiar. On January 6, 1979, Bakhtiar pledged to launch “a genuine social democracy” and to end the corruption and abuses of the past. On January 16, 1979, the Shah and his family left for Egypt. Two men had been prominent in the rising against the Shah. One was Khomeini, whose education was parochial, in other words he was Madrasa-trained.Students seized the U.S. embassy on November 4, 1979. Khomeini wavered at first but then gave the students his support. Khomeini called the United States the “Great Satan” and the U.S. embassy a “den of spies.Carter’s attempt to rescue the hostages in April, 1980, failed. The Shah died of cancer in July. The Khomeini regime began new negotiations to free the hostages, fearing perhaps the tougher man, Reagan, more than they had Carter. In January 1981, on the day that Reagan was inaugurated president, Iran agreed to free the hostages in exchange for $8 billion in frozen assets and a promise by the United States to lift trade sanctions.

    And so we wake today to find that new sanctions are imposed, but we refuse to accept and embargo of OPEC oil. If you don’t learn from past mistakes, you are doomed to repete them.

  23. blah blah blah – my favorite *missing link* story is the Iran Contra Affair – wiki it…hate-based middle men screwing you in every deal – and that’s been the story for decades now!

    PP is a monster – who is *educated* by monsters….?

  24. @owen owens ; nice summation !
    I think you might enjoy this montage of serial pictures (contemporary history) attached to the lyrics and rhythm of Billy Joel’s “We didn’t Start the Fire”…it is one you have to replay several times just for the fun of it: We Didn’t Start The Fire
    (your summation reminded me of it and could also be placed to some music as well…well; if you could find the right one or deliver it as an original…You’ll see what I mean with the Billy Joel Montage.
    (PS: it is interactive…you can click on any picture and it will stop and give you some background from the internet sources…pure fun!)

  25. Thanks there, and the season is about to change, and I have multipule plants ready for the heat of the sun, so give me a few hours and I’ll check those out.

  26. Analogy? Pay close attention to what is really going on here because it is identical to the world economy…but simplified by a tragic scale reality that…with degrees of elaboration, is the model of disaster capital in real time and context:
    Haiti: Where Did The Money Go?

    Published on Monday, February 20, 2012 by Common Dreams
    ‘Perpetual Growth Myth’ Leading World to Meltdown: Experts
    UN-Sponsored Papers Predict Sustained Ecological and Social Meltdown
    – Common Dreams staff

    “The current system is broken,” says Bob Watson, the UK’s chief scientific advisor on environmental issues and a winner of the prestigious Blue Planet prize in 2010. “It is driving humanity to a future that is 3-5°C warmer than our species has ever known, and is eliminating the ecology that we depend on for our health, wealth and senses of self.”


    From The Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy
    Cheater Economics
    by Brent Blackwelder
    “The election year offers a prime opportunity to push back against cheater economics by reframing the debate. Let’s start asking who is hijacking the revenue. We are not broke. Simply closing the numerous tax loopholes would bring in more than the $1.2 trillion the Republican leadership has been demanding in budget cuts over the next decade.

    Annie Leonard, the creator of the popular Story of Stuff video, is leading the charge to reframe the debate. Her new video, The Story of Broke, calls for a shift in government spending to invest in renewable energy and other industries that can provide jobs and a healthy environment. Another movie, We’re not Broke, is also helping to change the message. This new film, backed by the Tax Justice Network, tells the story of how corporations are dodging taxes and how seven fed-up citizens are working to make the corporations pay their fair share.”

    Published on Monday, February 20, 2012 by Common Dreams
    US Running on Myths, Lies, Deceptions and Distractions
    Republican Hypocrisy; Democratic Complicity; The Press’s Malfeasance; and Why You Don’t Have a Job and if You Do, Why it Doesn’t Pay Squat
    by John Atcheson

    “The United States is headed for a plutocratic dystopia where a few gated communities sit like islands amidst a sea of bitterness, misery, and want.
    Because the country is running on lies, myths, deceptions and distractions.”

  30. Always enjoy your commentary and links Bruce E Woyich, the last Common Dreams article especially. For here is the root of the many crisis facing America. Ignorance! And yes the socalled MSM has betrayed its purpose and shapeshifted fron a free and objective press to propaganda and disinformation agents of the fascist state. We’re the people en masse able to decipher a fraction of the facts and truths detailing our socalled governments grievous abuses and criminal conduct – the White House and Congress would indeed be burning. Instead the masses are mesmerized by the glossy spectacle of the gospel according to fox and stupidly and dangerously believe that up is down, night is day, wrong is right, republicans are patriots who love thebabyjesus intrepidlly fighting evildoers, and liberals and democrats are antiamerikan spawn of the devil, lunatics giving aid comfort to the enemy. We have truly crossed the Rubricon and passed into a world where lies are truth, fiction fact, and truth and facts are the products of conspiracy theory.

    We will all get what we deserve!

  31. Good post, but would everyone please stop using hateful labels such as “denier”, etc.? Especially a highly respected academic such as Dr.Kwak. This only poisons civilized discussion. Human-caused global warming is clearly very likely, but it is by no means a sure thing. That’s why we conduct research. Also, George Will in his column was misleading, but entirely accurate. Technically, the last 10 years do not lend support to the AGW hypothesis. But the overall evidence from longer periods, as you show, is clearly in support.

  32. It seems to me that you can’t believe in both global warming and peak oil at the same time.
    Either we are burning too much fossil fuel and need to cut back to save the planet, or, the quantity of affordable fossil fuel is coming to an end and we need to find alternatives. You can’t have both, but some problems do solve themselves. Shades of Gaia.
    I am tending to the opinion that there is too much fossil fuel and that burning it all will give the planet indigestion.
    Easy to fix but. Just increase the tax on coal, gas and oil. Spend the money on health care. Dearer fuel = less waste.

  33. I think there is another comparison here: The science-based policy initiative of AGW is losing and has been. See SOTUS 2012 and the utter lack of action (other than bone-throwing around the margins) in the cabinet. With Congress its forgotten. So the AEI/API spin-doctors dominate there. Without a price on Carbon its not clear much can be done. So policy-action on addressing AGW is dormant now and its hard to see a revival by 2015, (maybe not healthcare? I hope so.) And w/o US involvement, the rest of the Globe’s actions largely are canceled out by US emissions. Sort of the inverse of healthcare, where industrialized economies have enacted single payer and brought costs under control, relative to the US, which hasn’t and hasn’t so to speak.

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