Energy regulation economist Robert Murphy weighs in:
Fans of Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek — who warned against the “pretense of knowledge” — should be even more concerned about the sheer audacity of the field of climate economics. After all, it is rather absurd to argue about the impacts of present tax policies on global temperatures in the year 2150. Yet, it is precisely these projections that provide the foundation for policy recommendations.
Many critics have raised this objection before, but it bears repeating: We have no idea what the world economy will be like in the 22nd century. Had people in 1909 adopted analogous policies to “help” us, they might have imposed a tax on buggies or a cap on manure, needlessly raising the costs of transportation while the U.S. economy switched to motor vehicles. This is not a mere joke; “serious” people were worried about population growth, and the ability of large cities to support the growing traffic from horses. Had someone told them not to worry, because Henry Ford’s new Model T would soon transform personal locomotion without any central direction from D.C., these ideas would probably have been dismissed as wishful thinking. As famed physicist Freeman Dyson has mused, future generations will likely have far cheaper means of reducing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, if the more alarming scenarios play out.