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Rent-seeking: CEI’s Chris Horner comes clean and acknowledges that climate denialists and alarmists are peas in the same pod

January 14th, 2009 2 comments

In an earth-shaking 😉 essay in today’s Human Events, CEI‘s Chris Horner comes clean and acknowledges that climate denialists and alarmists are peas in the same rent-seeking pod. 

We have encountered Horner,  former lawyer and now full-time scourge of envirofascists on behalf of the firms that fund the Competitive Enterprise Institute (and author of “Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed), a number of times here previously.  I consider Chris to be very knowledgeable and insightful, but it seems to me that his passion paints him into a corner as a spokesman for one side of the commercial interests seeking to influence policy, hinders a broader self-awareness, and leaves him with little ability to reach out to persuade others.

Says Horner:

Further, the premise behind most alarmist slurs, of the “tobacco scientist” variety and the ritual claims of “ties” to “big oil” or “industry,” is that a scientist’s convictions and those of other dissenters are for sale. Yet it is illogical to assume that dissenters can be bought but alarmists cannot. Looking at the balance sheets on both sides, their logic would conclude that the greatest amount of corruption occurs on the alarmist side.

With federal expenditures on climate-related research soaring above $5 billion annually – more than we spend on AIDS or the National Cancer Institute – and hundreds of billions in “rents” to corporations pushing these schemes should the alarmist campaign succeed, the potentially corrupting factor of money cannot be ignored.

Someone saw a good investment in giving Al Gore $300 million for his “climate crisis” re-branding campaign. Gore’s advisor (and, officially, NASA astronomer) James Hansen and other activists receive enormous sums of money underwriting their alarmist activities, sums that no “skeptic” has ever been accused of receiving. Meanwhile Gore—the king of claiming that those who disagree are merely in it for the money—makes millions annually from all manner of enterprises premised upon the climate crisis, and his lucre will increase several fold upon passing the laws his alarmism demands.

The difficult truth is that the alarmists cannot logically fault the skeptics’ credibility without also faulting Gore’s credibility, and that of their heavily compensated alarmist mouthpieces. Yet no “skeptic” receives as much as Gore or even Hansen from shouting falsities about the issue.

The delicious irony found in the global warming alarmists’ claims is that it is they who closely resemble the “tobacco scientists” they accuse those who oppose them of being, and are quite plainly the ones stuck on “denial”.

Several thoughts occur to me:

First, most of Horner’s points are perfectly fair, but it’s interesting that he can make them while ignoring what they imply about himself and others who are denialists (since Horner calls those concerned about the effects of releasing all of the fossil carbons “alarmists”, for the sake of balance, let’s call him and others “denialists”, as opposed to “dissenters” or “skeptics”).

Second, Horner fails to distinguish between amounts spent by governments and amounts spent by rent-seekers directly.  While large government expenditures are “potentially corrupting”, such expenditures clearly do NOT directly corrupt the results of scientific investigations, nor do they directly influence decision-making by government, politicians or others.  As a result, such expenditures are certainly in a different class than direct and indirect rent-seeking (via paid mouthpieces, contributions to think tanks, campaign contributions, junkets and the like) by special interests.

Third, while Horner is right to note that there are large amounts flowing to support rent-seeking via alarmist mouthpieces like Gore, there is nothing really new here – this is just plain old garden-variety rent-seeking of the same type that we have seen from the denialists (fossil fuel interests and others who have different preferences regarding rights to the atmosphere and science/defense-budget priorities).  In one sense this is a relief – as it clarifies that the chief financiers of the alarmism are not out to destroy capitalism – but  one is left wondering WHO, precisely, is doing the funding and what precisely are their objectives.  While some may be looking for favors from government, others may be sincerely concerned about the potential consequences of releasing all of the fossil carbon stored up since the Age of Dinosaurs and the lack of any market mechanisms to express their preferences.

Fourth, while more information on rent-seekers is needed, it’s clear that most of them are commercial interests, whom our laws say are legal persons and our courts have declared to have the same Constitutional rights to spend freely to influence government via “free speech” as do you or I.  While a discussion of the merits of legal personhood is beyond the scope of of this post, I wish to draw attention to the role of limited liability, in fuelling the growth of (i) the corporate form, (ii) rent-seeking (at all branches of government) by corporations, and (iii) public pressure by citizens’ groups (and faux-citizens’ groups) to fight over the wheel of government.

Finally, Horner oversteps when he argues that the alarmists’ views must be based on a premise that “scientist’s convictions and those of other dissenters are for sale”. I think a little more nuance is called for.  W e are cognitively wired as tribal animals.  That means we are inclined to see “our side” as right, and the other side as lying and scheming. While very clever rent-seekers know this and try to use it to jerk us around, this does not mean that any particular group – or its spokesmen – has consciously sold itself out.  Rather, as William Butler Yeats famously noted, “the worst are full passionate intensity” – and each of us is good at the self-deception needed to provide the requisite conviction and self-righteousness.  Perhaps not only Al Gore, Jim Hansen and Horner’s frequent sparring partner Joe Romm share this quintessential human trait, but also Chris Horner himself?

Ron Bailey/Reason: Gore’s proposal to generate all power carbon-free in 10 years requires trillion$ on nukes

July 30th, 2008 6 comments

On July 17, Al Gore challenged our nation to produce “100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly carbon-free sources within 10 years“.

Ron Bailey, science correspondent of Reason online, has examined whether Gore’s proposal is at all practically achievable.  Bailey reviews the main options mentioned by Gore (solar, wind and geothermal) and the chief option implied but unmentionable – nuclear power – and concludes that low ball estimates of the costs for realizing Gore’s target are on the scale of $1 trillion to $6 trillion, with nuclear being by far the cheapest.  Concludes Bailey:

Curiously, nowhere does the “N-word”—nuclear—appear in Gore’s speech. Currently, 104 nuclear power plants generate about 20 percent of America’s electricity. Once a nuclear plant is up and running, it is essentially carbon-free. Westinghouse claims that it can build a third generation 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant for around $1.4 billion. Assuming this estimate is right, all U.S. carbon-emitting electricity generation plants could be replaced with nuclear power at a cost of about $1.2 trillion by 2018.

“Of course there are those who will tell us this can’t be done,” warned Gore. I am not one of those people. I am sure it can be done. But before embarking on his “generational challenge to re-power America,” I would like the former vice-president to sketch out a few more details on how it’s going to be paid for and who’s going to be stuck with the bill.

These numbers – roughly on the scale of our out-of-pocket and committed costs for our Iraq and Afghanistan adventures (largely corporate welfare for the defense/logistics industry, good friends of Republicans) – help us get a bit of a handle on the opportunity costs of those wars, which have undermined rather than improved our security and jacked up oil costs.

Bailey also comments on the costs of shifting our automobile fleet to one that is powered by electricity.

Bailey’s piece is here: “Al Gore’s Curiously Cost-Free Plan to Re-Power America“. 

 

Roy Spencer and his Christian "EcoFreako" rock band mock Al Gore’s fever

December 12th, 2007 2 comments

Further to my post on Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dr. Roy Spencer, a prominent climate scientist/skeptic and lead guitarist in a contemporary Christian rock band at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Huntsville, Alabama, has kindly emailed me the link to two songs that his band has done, mocking Al Gore and climate change. 


And so, without further ado – since I don’t mind a little mockin’, here’s Roy and the rockin’ EcoFreako Commune with:


“Earth Has A Fever”; and


“I Want To Mock Al Gore All Night”


http://www.ecofreakomusic.com/.


More on Roy here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/20/AR2006052001151.html.


 


But since one good turn deserves another, I’m sure the good doctor will not object to a little ribbing as well.  His conservative views reflect his upbringing and religious faith, which are evident in his praise for “Intelligent Design”http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=080805I.  Surely there is no reason to suspect that the same religious faith and conservative views might leak into Dr. Spencer`s climate science — which was persuasive enough to string along libertarian skeptics like Ron Bailey at Reason Magazine (editor of “Global Warming and Other Eco Myths How the Environmental Movement Uses False Science to Scare Us to Death”) and others (such as libertarian law prof Jon Adler; Skeptic Mag’s Mchael Schermer and Gregg Easterbrook) for quite some time — until


— until Dr. Spencer (and his side-kick IPCC member John Christy) was shown to be sufficiently wrong on atmospheric temperatures over two years ago that Ron Bailey and other libertarian pundits abandoned their public doubters positions and converted in droves, Bailey in posts such as “We’re All Global Warmers Now; Reconciling temperature trends that are all over the place“, http://www.reason.com/news/show/34079.html, “Betting on Climate Change It’s time to put up or shut up“, http://www.reason.com/news/show/34976.html, “Global Warming Data Sets Reconciled“, http://www.reason.com/blog/show/113722.html, and “Confessions of an Alleged ExxonMobil Whore; Actually no one paid me to be wrong about global warming“, http://www.reason.com/news/show/36811.html.


But who cares about science, anyway?  Far more important (and healthier) for us to enjoy the righteous guitar licks he gets in while mocking and rockin Al Gore!

Categories: AGW, climate, gore, Ron Bailey, roy spencer Tags:

Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize speech quotes Churchill in slamming those “decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.”

December 12th, 2007 No comments

[Update below – Roy Spencer’s band plays “Earth Has a Fever”!]


The speech is worth listening to, especially by those who are inclined to reject Gore’s views on our changing climate, the challenges posed by human activities that affect the climate and his suggestions for political, social and private action, both to mitigate effects and to adapt to them.


CNN video of the speech is here: http://www.climateprotect.org/node/279 (Gore’s website), and the released text is here: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2007/gore-lecture_en.html.


The policy core of Gore’s speech was the following:



This week, I will urge the delegates in Bali to adopt a bold mandate for a treaty that establishes a universal global cap on emissions and uses the market in emissions trading to efficiently allocate resources to the most effective opportunities for speedy reductions. This treaty should be ratified and brought into effect everywhere in the world by the beginning of 2010 – two years sooner than presently contemplated. The pace of our response must be accelerated to match the accelerating pace of the crisis itself.


Heads of state should meet early next year to review what was accomplished in Bali and take personal responsibility for addressing this crisis. It is not unreasonable to ask, given the gravity of our circumstances, that these heads of state meet every three months until the treaty is completed.


We also need a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store carbon dioxide.


And most important of all, we need to put a price on carbon — with a CO2 tax that is then rebated back to the people, progressively, according to the laws of each nation, in ways that shift the burden of taxation from employment to pollution. This is by far the most effective and simplest way to accelerate solutions to this crisis.


The world needs an alliance – especially of those nations that weigh heaviest in the scales where earth is in the balance. I salute Europe and Japan for the steps they’ve taken in recent years to meet the challenge, and the new government in Australia, which has made solving the climate crisis its first priority.


But the outcome will be decisively influenced by two nations that are now failing to do enough: the United States and China. While India is also growing fast in importance, it should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest CO2 emitters – most of all, my own country – that will need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act.


Both countries should stop using the other’s behavior as an excuse for stalemate and instead develop an agenda for mutual survival in a shared global environment.


– Al Gore December 10, 2007 


[Anyone familiar with this issue may note Gore DID argue that, as a result of human actions, “the earth has a fever”.  (He went on to say “And the fever is rising. The experts have told us it is not a passing affliction that will heal by itself. We asked for a second opinion. And a third. And a fourth. And the consistent conclusion, restated with increasing alarm, is that something basic is wrong.”)  SOMEWHERE I ran across a great spoof of that by Roy Spencer’s band.  I’ll post it once I dig it up.]


Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); the speech by R. K. Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC,  Oslo, 10 December 2007.  Pachauri’s speech is here:  http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2007/ipcc-lecture_en.html.


 


Flash Update!


Roy Spencer, a prominent climate scientist/skeptic and lead guitarist in a contemporary Christian rock band at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Huntsville, Alabama, has kindly emailed me the link to two songs that his band done, mocking Al Gore and climate change.  And so, without further ado – since I don’t mind a little mockin’, here’s Roy and the rockin’ EcoFreako Commune with:


“Earth Has A Fever”; and


“I Want To Mock Al Gore All Night”


http://www.ecofreakomusic.com/.


More on Roy here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/20/AR2006052001151.html.


And since one good turn deserves another, I’m sure the good doctor will not object to a little ribbing as well.  His conservative views reflect his upbringing and religious faith, which are evident in his praise for “Intelligent Design”http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=080805I.


But that doesn’t mean that there is any reason to suspect that the same religious faith and conservative views might leak into his climate science — which has proven sufficiently wrong to drive libertarian Ron Bailey at Reason Magazine (editor of “Global Warming and Other Eco Myths How the Environmental Movement Uses False Science to Scare Us to Death”) and others (such as libertarian law prof Jon Adler; Skeptic Mag’s Mchael Schermer and Gregg Easterbrook) into announcing over two years ago that “We’re All Global Warmers Now; Reconciling temperature trends that are all over the place“, http://www.reason.com/news/show/34079.html, “Betting on Climate Change It’s time to put up or shut up“, http://www.reason.com/news/show/34976.html, “Global Warming Data Sets Reconciled“, http://www.reason.com/blog/show/113722.html, and “Confessions of an Alleged ExxonMobil Whore; Actually no one paid me to be wrong about global warming“, http://www.reason.com/news/show/36811.html.


 

Categories: AGW, climate, gore, IPCC, Nobel, Ron Bailey, roy spencer Tags:

At Nature, Hysterical AGW Religious Nuts and Vile Collectivists Say Tropics Are Expanding!

December 3rd, 2007 No comments

[Snark Alert!]


A recent article in Nature Geoscience that shows that measurable climate change – this time the expansion of the tropics – is outpacing predictions. The actual article is abstracted here: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ngeo.2007.38.html


Amazing how the strong belief system of “scientists”/fervent AGW co-religionists (government employees of course; this time NOAA) has actually been measurably changing the climate!


A press release by Nature Geoscience reported the following:



The tropical belt, defined by its typical rain and wind patterns, has started to expand during the last few decades as a result of climate change, according to a progress article published online this week in Nature Geoscience. This ongoing expansion, emerging from a number of independent studies, will affect climate worldwide as the dry subtropical zones are pushed polewards and could come to encompass the Mediterranean region, the southwest USA, Mexico, southern Australia, South Africa and parts of South America.

Dian Seidel and colleagues review recent studies on the width of the tropical belt from independent signs such as changes in atmospheric temperatures, winds and ozone observations, which all distinguish the tropical from the subtropical regions. According to their findings, the tropics have expanded by about 2.5 degrees latitude over the past 25 years or so – an expansion that had not been expected to occur before the end of the twenty-first century from climate model projections.


http://www.researchsea.com/html/article.php/aid/2502/cid/1/research/global_warming__tropics_expand_poleward.html?PHPSESSID=7fd07c5de7cdecb1cee48d05146bbdbd


A further report provides the following background:



Climate models predict that global warming could be causing the tropics to expand. So far, they have suggested a creep of 2°of latitude north and south, but only over the next century.



To find out what has happened so far, a team led by climate scientist Dian Seidel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland, examined the stratosphere for signs of change in the tropics. She and colleagues surveyed five sets of data collected by satellites and weather balloons from 1979 to 2000. The data showed that tropical climate patterns, such as increased ozone concentrations and temperatures, in the stratosphere had expanded by up to 4.5°of latitude–depending on the observations–in the Northern Hemisphere during that short period.

Atmospheric scientist John Wallace of the University of Washington, Seattle, says the survey “makes a compelling case that the tropical belt has widened substantially over the past 30 years,” and if it continues at the same rate, “it will have major societal implications.”


http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2007/1203/3?rss=1 


The lead hysteric/scientist results reportedly said: 



“Dr Seidel said the surprisingly rapid expansion of the tropics could lead to “profound changes in the global climate system”. Of greatest concern were shifts in rain and wind patterns that would affect natural ecosystems, agriculture and water resources in the world’s subtropical dry belts, including southern Australia. …


“Dr Seidel and her colleagues analysed results from five different types of measurements of the tropics, including ozone levels and temperature.


“These independent studies all found that the tropical zone had expanded between 1979 and 2005 within estimates ranging from two to eight degrees of latitude. This was already greater than the 2-degree expansion by 2010 that climate change models have predicted under the most extreme warming scenario.”


http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/greenhouse-robs-rainfall-in-farm-belt/2007/12/02/1196530481803.html


More coverage here.



http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ngeo.2007.38.html


http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/12/071203-expanding-tropics.html?email=Inside07Dec07


How convenient – government “scientists” happen to find consistent evidence, across a number of parameters, that climate change is occuring, and faster than predicted by climate models. 


How can we possibly trust this information from the government-funded AGW scientific cartel, whose only incentive is to keep the “climate change” goose well-fed, so they can keep collecting golden eggs from taxpayers?


Perhaps a more accurate headline would be “Scientists Again Prove Climate Models Wrong!”  That would be just as correct, and make me feel better, too.

Categories: climate, environment, gore, religion, science, tropics Tags:

Ron Bailey of Reason congratulates Al Gore

October 15th, 2007 No comments

[updated] A great new post by libertarian Ron Bailey of Reason here:

Congratulations to Al Gore
But be wary of the man’s proposed solutions for global warming.
Ronald Bailey | October 12, 2007
http://www.reason.com/news/show/122960.html

1.  Here are some excerpts (emphasis added), followed by a copy of my comments over at Reason:

[Gore is] wrong to characterize global warming as a moral and spiritual problem. Man-made global warming is not some kind of environmental sin. It’s just another commons problem that has emerged as human civilization continues to develop. Most environmental problems arise in what are called open-access commons. That is, people pollute air and rivers, overfish lakes and oceans, cut down rainforests, and so forth because no one owns those natural resources and therefore no one has an interest in protecting them.

The point is clearest in the case of tropical forests and fisheries. No one owns the forests or fisheries, so anyone may exploit them. No one has an incentive to leave any trees or fish behind because, if they do, someone else will harvest them and get the benefits for themselves. In other words, those who immediately benefit from exploiting the resource do not bear the long-run costs of its ultimate destruction. This mismatch between benefits and costs is a recipe for disaster. Similarly, no one owns the global atmosphere, so there is no incentive for anyone to protect it from various pollutants, including greenhouse gases that tend to raise average global temperatures.

Generally, humanity has solved environmental problems caused by open-access situations by either privatizing the relevant commons or regulating it.  …

As a skeptic of government action, I had hoped that the scientific evidence would lead to the conclusion that global warming would not be much of a problem, so that humanity could avoid the messy and highly politicized process of deciding what to do about it. Although people of good will can still disagree about the scientific evidence for climate change, I now believe that Gore has got it basically right. The balance of the evidence shows that global warming could well be a significant problem over the course of this century.

Yale economist William Nordhaus … calculates that the optimal policy would impose a carbon tax of $34 per metric ton carbon in 2010, with the tax increases gradually reaching $42 per ton in 2015, $90 per ton in 2050, and $207 per ton of carbon in 2100. A $20 per metric ton carbon tax will raise coal prices by $10 per ton, which is about a 40 percent increase over the current price of $25 per ton. A $10 per ton carbon tax translates into a 4 cent per gallon increase in gasoline. A $300 per ton carbon tax would raise gasoline prices by $1.20 per gallon. Following this optimal trajectory would cost $2.2 trillion and reduce climate change damage by $5.2 trillion over the next century. …

Man-made global warming is an economic and technical problem of the sort that humanity has solved many times. For example, forests are expanding in rich countries because they have well-developed private property rights. Also in rich countries, regulations have helped once polluted rivers and lakes to become clean and have drastically cut air pollution. One of the keys to solving environmental problems is economic growth and wealth. …

In any case, global warming is not the result of environmental sin; it is the result of human progress creating another commons problem. … I have no doubt that man-made global warming is an economic and technical problem that an inventive humanity will solve over the course of the 21st century.

Still, congratulations are in order to Al Gore for being recognized by the Nobel committee for his persistence in trying to get humanity to pay attention to this new commons problem.

2.  Here is a digest of my comments to Ron:

Basically, a great post, but I’ve got a few small quibbles.

1.  You were right last year when you said that “In the end, the debate over global warming and its obverse, humanity’s energy future, is a moral issue.”
http://www.reason.com/blog/show/113924.html

2.  I share your understanding of the economics and institutional problem and agree that a straightforward explanation of these is important for very many.

3.  However, you forget what evolutionary psychology, Ostrom and Yandle have explained to us so well about how our innate moral sense drives and underpins mankind’s success as a species by enhancing our ability to cooperate and to overcome commons issues.
Ostrom: http://conservationcommons.org/media/document/docu-wyycyz.pdf
Yandle: http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=4064

Our long history of developed rules and institutions (informal and formal now overlapping) are based on our moral sense and the effectiveness of these rules depends critically on our moral investment in accepting their legitimacy – witness our views on murder, theft, lying and “not playing by the rules” – and in voluntarily complying with them.

Our moral sense reinforces our judgments about when rules/institutions are not working and the need to develop new ones in response to changing circumstances and new problems.  When we see a problem that we think requires change, it is unavoidable that we respond to the status quo, the behavior of people within it and the need for change with a moral sense. 

This is simply a part of our evolutionary endowment.  (Of course, other parts of our endowment accentuate our suspicions of smooth talkers and help us catch free riders and looters and to guard against threats from outsiders.)

4.  Accordingly, while it’s unclear how deliberate Gore’s talk of “a moral and spiritual challenge” and “lifting the global consciousness” is or whether this is a productive approach for some people, I think it is fairly clear that, in order to build consensus for a solution to the climate commons problem (and other difficult commons problems) and to ensure that any agreed solutions are actually implemented, we will need to bring our moral senses to bear.

In other words, it is RIGHT to worry about climate change, but no meaningful/effective “solution” can be reached or implemented unless it is FAIR and the parties involved have sufficient TRUST (backed by information) in each other.

5.  You have understated the AGW problem, especially in light of the inertia both in our energy systems and in the climate, the long duration of CO2 and other GHGS, and the rapidity with which the climate is already changing – faster than even this year’s IPCC reports: http://www.carbonequity.info/docs/arctic.html

6.  It is surprising that in referring to Nordhaus you have not indicated the ways in which it seems clear that Nordhaus has understated the costs and risks of climate change and the utility of acting sooner rather than later, as noted by Weitzman, Sterner & Persson, Quiggin and others, or that by “revenue recycling” as noted by McKitrick we can substantially reduce the costs of carbon abatement policies.
http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/Weitzman/papers/JELSternReport.pdf
www.rff.org/Documents/RFF-DP-07-37.pdf
http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2006/11/17/stern-on-the-costs-of-climate-change-part-1/
http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/co2briefing.pdf

7.  You fail to note that while there are real costs to our economies to build climate change institutions, once established in principle any resulting carbon pricing reflects real costs and is not a “cost” to the economy.

8.  It is a puzzle that you did not note that the most powerful way to call forth the investment and behavior changes that would help us to “find a cheap, low-carbon source of energy” and to limit GHG emissions would be to find ways that would effectively price GHG emissions.

9.  Finally, one further comment on this:

“One of the keys to solving environmental problems is economic growth and wealth.  … So keep in mind that anything that unduly retards economic growth also retards ultimate environmental clean-up, including global warming.”

Not sure what you’re driving at here.

As far as developing countries go, efforts by Western nations to address climate change are actually net subsidies to them (by dampening Western demand for fossil fuels) and are providing incentives and investment for growth.

And as for Western economies, at least in principle internalizing externalities by enclosing commons (that have provided value which has not been factored into GDP) doesn’t retard economic growth, but enables it by forestalling the destruction of resources, permitting greater wealth-generating private transactions and reducing inefficiency.