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Picked this up from Yahoo News today:

A new analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the NRDC, finds that the federal government spent three times more than the private insurance industry on climate change impacts last year. And, of course, those federal efforts are entirely funded by taxpayers.

“It is in effect a climate disruption tax, equivalent to a 2.7 percentage point increase in what Americans paid in sales taxes last year.” That’sDaniel Lashof, director of the NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Program and co-author of the report.

We spent nearly $100 billion in 2012 on drought-related crop insurance, storms like Hurricane Sandy, floods and wildfires. By comparison the nation spent $95 billion on education last year and just $91 billion on transportation.

Pretty infuriating, particularly given the way dialogue on climate change happens. So a major news agency reports on a report from NRDC and says nothing about its position or whether it is a serious scientific research organization. It is a leftist environmental advocacy group. If the Cato Institute had issued the same report, you can be sure that the report would have read, “A new analysis by the Cato-Institute, a libertarian think-tank, finds that …” but no such appellation here. I can deal with that, it’s run of the mill. But the rest is simply wrong. The 2012 droughts, Hurricane Sandy and floods and wildfires in recent years have absolutely no basis in global warming. There is no evidence that they are the result of climate change, these are mere hysterical assertions. There is a large body of evidence demonstrating why. I’d recommend folks look for it – you’d think a news story would at least include a caveat as such. But not here. This is pure propaganda. So we spent $100 billion on unfortunate natural disasters that are extremely unlikely to have anything to do with climate change.

A better mistake is to say nothing about why in fact the federal government is paying $100 billion for these things. Why are private individuals and insurance companies contracting for these? Are there any poor incentives at play? What role has FEMA played in leading to this outcome? Why is there government crop insurance? Why are wildfires so costly today? Why are the hurricanes causing so much damage? Is it because a higher preponderance of large hurricanes are making landfall? And so on.

But more fun is the comparisons. Do you believe that “the nation” spent $95 billion on education last year? I would be willing to bet a body part that this is not correct. That may not even reflect what merely the federal government spent on education. How much did the combination of all households, all local governments, all state governments and the federal government spend on education last year? $95 billion? Get real. It’s easily three times larger than this, and perhaps much more depending on what we think of “education.”

But how is that even an interesting or relevant comparison? Take the $91 billion spent on transportation. Is that a lot? A little? That simply has no bearing on how serious or important the $100 billion spent on “climate change” was last year. None. How about this? ” By comparison, the nation spent $18 billion on paint and coatings last year!”

Finally, what does it mean for the government to be paying for the damages of climate change? Isn’t that “us?” Do we ignore government spending and borrowing? What’s the hankering about the fiscal cliff, and austerity, and tax rates, etc. been all about then?

6 Responses to “Who’s Paying the Price for Climate Misinformation is the Better Question”

  1. RIT_Rich says:

    “pend on education last year? $95 billion? Get real. It’s easily three times larger than this”

    Closer to 10 times that. $781.5 billion dollars in FY 2013 (although I think I may have found a government program that has actually SHRUNK, since it was $900 billion in 2010. Most of the decrease seems to be at the State level, of course).

    PS: in the $100 billion tab, is this person including the $15 billion subsidies to “social programs” included in the Sandy relief bill and all the other pork?

  2. RIT_Rich says:

    “Take the $91 billion spent on transportation. Is that a lot? A little?”

    Well, it’s also not true. It’s $288.8 billion in FY2013.

    • RIT_Rich says:

      In FY2012 “Disaster Relief and Insurance” was 11.9 billion. In FY2011 it was 10.2 billion. In FY2010 it was 10.7 billion. In FY2013 it is 26.8 billion. Most of these are flood insurance programs, of course. So even if we assume that the weather of 2012-2013 caused the increase from 11.9 to 26.8, that’s still about 15 billion dollars…or about 1/3 of what the government spend in FY2013 on “Recreational and Sporting Services”

  3. Harry says:

    The IPCC wants Rich and Wintercow to pay reparations for bad West African anchovy harvests, which, as economists might put it, is a big perceived externality.

    The NRDC, as WC says, is a leftist advocacy group populated with lawyers. Lawyers as a group, in my experience, know hardly anything about science or about investing money, yet like cockroaches crawl all over science and investing, feeding voraciously. This is not to cast aspersions on some lawyers. Let’s be fair.

  4. chuck martel says:

    Fair? Lawyers are the priests of the secular religion we call democracy, ranging from the shyster ambulance chasers that serve as our curates to the nine black-robed popes that continuously revise our zillion commandments. We need them because they’re here.

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