Tim Worstall, why did you impose the carbon tax? “I assumed that …”

A lot of people like climate change, mainly because it presents them with a platform for doing things they like to do. Of course, they will tell you they have come to do it because it needs to be done. So you see often – experts seriously discussing ins-and-outs of a ‘policy’ even as you blink about the need for the whole thing. Tim Worstall, provides us with an example. Tim likes the idea of a carbon tax thinks a ‘carbon’ tax  just needs to be done. Apparently he’s been yammering away about it for years.

We can ask him the ‘blink’ question. Why, do we need this ‘tax’? The answers pour forth – for those who seek:


Now, as you all know, I’m generally on board with the idea that climate change is a) happening and b) something we ought to do something about.


As you all know, I’m generally on side over this climate change thing. It’s happening, we’re causing it and something must be done.


Start from where the Government is: yes, climate change is a problem, something we should do something about.


Let us assume a number of things: that climate change is happening, that it’s a problem, that it’s human activity causing it and that we really do need to do something about it.

Ok, Tim’s really convinced ‘something needs to be done’. But why? These are not really an answer to our question, are they? One digs deeper.


I take the IPCC projections to be pretty much what they say they are, the current state of the scientific art


When you start reading some of the scientists actually involved, William Connelly(sic), James Annan for example, you actually get told that while this is a problem, …


I will still defer to the collected expertise of climatologists, which, for the moment, still supports the AGW hypothesis. (via quote)


As is usual around here, we’ll start with the assumption that the IPCC is correct.

That’s it, really. I’ve looked quite hard – though I haven’t read Worstall’s book – there is absolutely nowhere that he examines why we need to put a tax on ‘carbon’. It is just layers of assumptions and belief in experts.

Please mind – Worstall actually gives very clever reasons to why a carbon tax would be a good thing, even if the climate thing were not true. But that would mean he’s using the climate as an excuse to push things he happens to like, wont it? There is the odd mumbling about solar power, and titanium dioxide, and fuel cells, and “billions “of people dying from climate change.  But why would you operate a battery-powered car when you have a tankful of gas? And why would one listen to Worstall when he is busy deferring to experts other than himself ?

Worstall even says:

I’m perfetly(sic) happy with the basic science of climate change.

What is this ‘basic science of climate change’ and why is Worstall ‘happy’ with it? And about that “we really need need to do something about it?” What the heck is that? And, because William Connolley said so?

How about this? Let us not do something just because we feel like ‘doing something.’ I wonder about economists and policymakers whose life’s work would go swirling down the drain – just like the tax money they advocate collecting. When the IPCC which forms the basis for what they do, crashes under the weight of such hopes and expectations, that is.



  1. diogenes

    To be fair, his argument is a little more nuanced than the way you present it. For example, he makes it clear that any carbon taxes should be instead of rather than additional to any existing taxes – and in one blog post he admits that Government is not really up to the scale of the challenge this would represent. Also, he takes the existing taxes on air travel in the UK, compares them with what the Stern Report suggests should be the price of CO2 emissions and concludes that those taxes should be reduced to get them to the appropriate level. This is not so convenient when the British Government has just increased them!

    There are many debates about shifting the tax base. Some would shift it to a Land Value tax and get rid of all other taxes. TW likes the idea of shifting at least some taxation from a mishmash of income and capital and expenditure taxes to externalities such as CO2 emissions. Neither of those positions, however, is about increasing the tax burden. This is what needs to be remembered in the discussion.

  2. Mydogsgotnonose

    The warmists apparently imagine there is a phenomenon called ‘back radiation’ which increases the measured IR emitted from the Earth’s surface that is ‘absorbed’ by the atmosphere by a factor of 15.5.

    This creates equally imaginary dangerous warming but because we can’t actually measure it happening, they claims it’s offset exactly by imaginary cooling by polluted clouds plus some bare aerosol cooling.

    In fact, the only thing about this part of climate science that isn’t imaginary is the cost.

    Proof that ‘back radiation’ is imaginary comes from the simple observation that passive solar panels don’t work at night.

    One wonders whether when Hansen was young, he had an imaginary friend……

  3. Shub Niggurath

    hi diogenes,
    Worstall’s overall message – amidst all the cussing and everything 🙂 – is no doubt nuanced. But without a clear explanation of *why* he jumped onto this bandwagon in the first place, his carbon tax is just ready to be ‘cut off at its knees’.

    It’s the ‘climate is infinitely plastic’ observation by Mike Hulme – the climate just seems to help almost anyone.

  4. Eddy

    This back radiation is standard physics, why didn’t you join the discusion thread in BH’s blog?

  5. Alan

    I recently read his book – it’s quite good apart from the climate change bits. As for motives – he says he makes his money by selling scandium and other exotic metals – and hints that they could be useful in fuel cells etc. Is that enough motivation to pretend that AGW isn’t utter horseshit? Dunno.

  6. man in a barrel

    Alan – Tim deals in scandium and rare earth metals, amongst other things…..but he is really doing whqt the GWPF do – accepting the alleged scientific consensus and then exploring the policies that might ensue – and pointing out that the remedies are often not those suggested by the scientists. he is a controversialist. Shub should link to his blog to get his own stated opinion.

  7. Shub Niggurath

    man in a barrel
    There are a bunch of people who play well, at a sort of a double game. Or, ride two horses, if you will. Worstall, by his own admission, has no means of examining the veracity of the IPCC’s claims. He has no means of rejecting them.

    Then how come he accepts them?

    Never accept something you do not have the means to reject – I’d like to say.

    If the global warming (AGW) problem is presented as something for which economists have solutions for, it is highly likely that economists will accept the basic premises of the global warming problem without question.

  8. diogenes

    In my view, any pigou tax will lead to civil unrest…I wonder whether Tim is not pushing the limits here. he is not usually in favour of the establishment…i think he is trying to break the system here by saying that if you accept the scientific consensus, pensioners will have to pay more for energy to survive in the UK. So, could a political party get elected on that premise? No.

  9. Mydogsgotnonose

    No it’s not standard physics at the Earth’s surface. At that point you have coupled convection, conduction and radiation. Any engineer and professional physicist knows that also that you can’t at equilibrium create a perpetual motion machine.

    Using revised calculations, the assumption of radiative equilibrium as if the atmosphere and the earth’s surface were in a vacuum, plus TOA energy which isn’t there because these people forget Kirchhoff’s law of radiation only applies at equilibrium, there’s a 40% rise in total energy, 5 times more IR.

    They have got this physics seriously wrong because they didn’t get a competent heat transfer expert to work on it.

  10. whatevehfeiopsgheo


    1. Carbon Tax.
    2. Aerospace companies are going to want to save fuel.
    3. Demand for lightweight scandium-aluminium alloys goes up.
    4. I happen to deal 60% of the world’s scandium oxide.
    5. Profit.

    ===STATUS QUO===
    1. No Carbon Tax.
    2. No change.

  11. flyingtigercomics

    Reblogged this on Flying Tiger Comics and commented:
    How about this? Let us not do something just because we feel like ‘doing something.’ I wonder about economists and policymakers whose life’s work would go swirling down the drain – just like the tax money they advocate collecting. When the IPCC which forms the basis for what they do, crashes under the weight of such hopes and expectations, that is.