I’ve been trying to stay out of this, but this is just hilarious. Brian, Sean’s been working for years deploying capital to reduce CO2. He knows electricity markets better than 99% of people in the world, certainly better than you or Matt. Along with his father Tom, he’s written peer-reviewed papers on the subject.
So when he comes along and suggests that the Economics 101 cliches that substitute for energy policy knowledge among most bloggers might be off-base, their reaction is … to assume he’s making remedial errors about policy?
So let's unpack the appeals to authority. Roberts is arguably an expert on policy, but while he's been cagey about it, I think he quietly disagrees with Casten but doesn't like the criticism that his fellow Grist blogger has received. I'm just guessing that from the several comments he made that defended Casten as an authority but not Casten's particular arguments.
So leaving aside Roberts' expertise, we've got Casten. Had Casten written only, "I don't have time to spell out the problems with cap-and-dividend, but I want people to realize that my renewable energy business that I've put years into will not benefit from cap-and-dividend," then I would've put that into my "this gets some weight" category and moved on. Instead, however, Casten makes arguments that he apparently considers easily understood, but make no sense:
a tax on your competitor does not make you wealthier. This is so obvious it shouldn’t need repeating.and in a comment:
The theory that all power prices will rise giving the CO2-free source a higher margin is predicated on an absolutely perfect transfer of cost through the systemAt the margin, a tax on your competitor and not on you will help you out. Yes, sometimes it won't, but if Casten's going to argue that it never helps in the renewables biz, then he needs to supply a missing argument. And the theory that power prices will rise doesn't depend on 100% perfect pass-through, it just depends on more than 0% pass-through.
I feel competent to judge these arguments, especially the second one, and by making them Casten has decreased my willingness to defer to his authority.
That's the way I'd handle it - climate denialists seem to think "appeal from authority" is a sufficient response to the mountains of science academies screaming bloody murder about AGW, but I think there's more work to be done than simply that. I think they have to rely on conspiracy arguments for why almost all experts could be so wrong, and that's a pretty slender reed.