On Monday, Paul Krugman wrote an interesting article, Crazy Climate Economics. And today, he’s written another global warming related article, Points of No Return. They are both worth reading, but I wanted to bring up something that Krugman doesn’t: environmental remediation as economic stimulus.
Marco Rubio has gotten a lot of attention recently for saying that doing anything about global warming would have a “devastating impact on our economy.” Krugman mocked him for this by noting:
But there is a deeper issue here. Our economy is depressed. Corporations are not investing because they see no demand. Corporations are notorious for their lack of long-term planning. The government forcing the business community to clean up its act and move to green energy would be great for their long-term prospects. But there’s more.
Forcing companies to make these necessary environmental changes would create jobs. It would act as a stimulus program and that in turn would increase demand and so company profits would go up. So Rubio’s claim that addressing climate change would hurt the economy is backwards. What’s more, every day that we wait to deal with global warming makes fixing problems that much more expensive. It is one thing to invest in windmills that will more than pay for themselves in the long run; it is quite another to build a ten foot tall sea wall all around Miami.
Conservatives will tell you that if we are going to deal with our environmental problems, we must do it when the economy is good. This is exactly backwards. Now is the time that corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars. Now is the time when banks are desperate to loan money. When the economy is roaring along, environmental mitigation will take resources away from other uses. Now, mitigation uses resources (human and capital) that are going unused.
Now is the time to act! People like Marco Rubio know as little about economics as they do about climate science.