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May 1st, 2009
09:06 AM ET

An affordable salvation

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TECH/science/04/22/plants.pollution/art.sydney.jpg]

Paul Krugman
The New York Times

The 2008 election ended the reign of junk science in our nation’s capital, and the chances of meaningful action on climate change, probably through a cap-and-trade system on emissions, have risen sharply.

But the opponents of action claim that limiting emissions would have devastating effects on the U.S. economy. So it’s important to understand that just as denials that climate change is happening are junk science, predictions of economic disaster if we try to do anything about climate change are junk economics.

Yes, limiting emissions would have its costs. As a card-carrying economist, I cringe when “green economy” enthusiasts insist that protecting the environment would be all gain, no pain.

But the best available estimates suggest that the costs of an emissions-limitation program would be modest, as long as it’s implemented gradually. And committing ourselves now might actually help the economy recover from its current slump.

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Filed under: Economy • Energy • Environmental issues • Paul Krugman
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