Indur Goklany at the Cato blog gives us one of the genuinely dumbest arguments I've heard in a long time. His started point is James Hansen's argument that the safe, sustainable level of CO2 in the atmosphere is 350 ppm. Then Goklany observes that we're currently well above that level, and passed 350 ppm back in 1988. Then he asks "Is the world better off today compared to 1988?" and concludes that it is. Therefore, we should let catastrophic climate change move forward unabated. After all, "But would we want to go back to the world of 1988 — or even 1998 for that matter?"

I used to think it would be good if we could get the murder rate back down to 1963 levels, but now that Goklany's so sagely pointed out that there were no HDTVs back then we can see the foolishness of wishing to travel back in time. Because, clearly, a literal reversion to 1988 living standards is the only conceivable method of reducing carbon emissions as human beings are, as is well known, utterly incapable of devising technological and organizational methods of enhancing energy efficiency or discovering less-polluting sources.

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