Is Sunlight Unfairly Competing With Fossil Fuels?
We can and should go back and forth about the merits, demerits, risks and potential rewards of the spectrum of geoengineering techniques, from the simple but slow and effective (like afforestation) to the well, more fraught with potential catastrophic danger (like trying to block out the sun). It's the latter than renowned economist Herman Daly, the de facto father of ecological economics itself, wittily takes on in a new piece from the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.
Frederic Bastiat's classic satire, "Petition of the Candlemakers Against the Sun", has been given new relevance. Written in 1845 in defense of free trade and against national protectionism in France, it can now be applied quite literally to the cosmic protectionists who want to protect the global fossil fuel-based growth economy against "unfair" competition from sunlight -- a free good. The free flow of solar radiation that powers life on earth should be diminished, suggest some, including American Enterprise Institute's S. Thernstrom (Washington Post 6/13/09, p. A15), because it threatens the growth of our candle-making economy that requires filling the atmosphere with heat-trapping gasses. The protectionist "solution" of partially turning off the sun (by albedo-increasing particulate pollution of the atmosphere) will indeed make thermal room for more carbon-burning candles.
Well I assume it's the more risky geoengineering schemes, Daly's talking about as that's the sort of thing AEI generally advocates...