Other nations will hurt their poor if only we hurt ours first.

EPA!! EPA!!

EPA!! EPA!!

Just in case some of you aren’t yet sick of the topic of those new EPA regs…

The argument for acting alone rests on a belief in political rochambeau:  other nations will hurt their poor if only we hurt ours first.

What the U.S. can do on its own is futile,  and international accords are both hopelessly corrupt and democratically unaccountable, so we hope others (esp. China) will follow our lead even though scores of millions of their citizens still live at levels of poverty we Americans would find unimaginable.

Rich Lowry asks why some believe that China (among others) would follow our example and “kneecap” their own economies in Math is Math:

The regulatory fight against global warming runs up against this reality: Anything we do on our own short of returning to a subsistence economy is largely meaningless, while we can’t force other countries to kneecap their economies based on a fashionable cause with no immediate bearing on the well-being of their often desperately impoverished citizens.

In an attempt to square this circle, supporters of the new EPA rules say they are an exercise of American leadership that will encourage other countries to crimp their economies, especially the world’s biggest emitter, China.

How has the power of example worked so far? We are a liberal democracy. We allow a robustly free press. We don’t imprison dissenters. We don’t steal the industrial secrets of other countries and give them to companies owned by government insiders. In all these things, we provide a model for Beijing, and have done so for a long time. Yet the Chinese Politburo stubbornly pursues what it believes is in its best interest.

Why will China be shamed by our pointlessly self-flagellating new policy on power plants into adopting economically harmful regulations of its own based on speculative models showing a far-off threat of higher temperatures?

The best policy for the U.S. is not command-and-control regulation, as economics writer Jim Manzi points out, but maintaining an environment favorable to technological innovation.

The best approach is a gradual one that treats it as one of many manageable risks we might face, not a crisis demanding the immediate re-ordering of society.  (Especially a re-ordering with religious overtones that just so happens to match the long-standing wishlist of the international Left.)

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