Friday, November 12, 2010

Iron Law versus BOSO

Thought I'd just spell out the timeline I reference in the previous post.
  • 2006 (a gubernatorial election year): Democrats in the California Assembly pass AB 32, mandating greenhouse gas reductions. The Democratic candidate for governor immediately supports the bill. After some equivocating, Republican incumbent Arnold Schwarzenegger signs the legislation instead of vetoing it.
  • 2006-2010: Cap-and-trade consistently discussed as an important part of implementing AB 32.
  • November 2, 2010: Voters reject Proposition 23, which would have suspended AB 32, on a 60-40 vote.
  • November 5, 2010: Roger Pielke Jr. announces on National Public Radio that "the iron law of climate policy simply says that while people are willing to bear some cost for environmental objectives, that willingness has its limits. And cap and trade ran up against those limits time and again, and it's not surprising that it failed."

I think RPJ's Iron Law has some hindcasting problems. He could say it's just a reference to national politics, but his Iron Law doesn't seem phrased that way.

In lieu of the RPJ Iron Law, I'd like to propose BOSO, or Brian's Obvious Statement of the Obvious, which is that getting 60 votes in the Senate is hard. While BOSO may not sound quite as profound, I think it has better explanatory power and does better with hindcasting.

UPDATE: A nice write-up on California's proposed cap-and-trade by Michael Wara is here.

UPDATE 2: Matt Yglesias had a near-identical point here that I just stumbled upon. I like the term BOSO more than YOSO, though.

UPDATE 3: I was happy to find a RPJ post I agreed with on the value of testing carbon sequestration for a coal plant operation. Maybe it's not too surprising as a post, in that it gives him a chance to go hippie-punching against the Sierra Club, but in this case I think he's right and Sierra Club is wrong.

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