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Hidden Costs: The Precautionary Principle and Risks of Clean Energy Policy
Centrally directing resources to clean energy may thus be shrinking economic opportunities while returning relatively little in the way of environmental benefits.
To the extent that “climate is a profoundly grander thing than energy,” reducing our rate of carbon emissions may have little effect on climate variation, and even the most productive politics would be incapable of improving environmental quality on this dimension. In this case, the politics of clean energy may primarily be directing resources to lower-valued uses, which not only weakens economic performance but also reduces environmental quality by increasing resource demands for any level of production. Rather than being a dominant strategy in the sense of reducing the possibility of harm with little if any downside, precautionary energy policies appear capable of inflicting considerable costs on both our economy and environment.