Heat and energy, adddendum

Looking back at yesterday’s post, I realize that I never made it to the second point of the post about why articles such as the one quoted might be problematic. While I made a point (that might not be so strong) about methodology, I forgot to point out the broader political implications of these attempts at quantifying economic gains from environmentally friendly policies.

The problem is that of relying too much on economic reasoning in our approach to environmental issues. While it is useful to have backing from economists in insisting that adopting energy efficient measures is a necessity, this can easily backfire. If environmentally minded people come to rely too heavily on economic arguments for going green, what happens when new data come out that show that there is actually a considerable cost to this? It will happen again, as it has been happening for many years. In fact, the economic argument is already often the main barrier to implementing many environment friendly changes, and is a fickle bedfellow.

This has, of course, nothing to do with the actual paper or the authors who wrote it, since it is both useful and of satisfying quality, but it is something to ponder.


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