1. How fast is the Earth going to warm?
2. How much of this warming is caused by human activities?
3. What can we expect will be the net cost of this warming?
4. Is it worth doing anything to slow or reverse recent warming?
5. What can we do to slow or reverse warming?
6. Should government impose top-down solutions?
What kind of skeptic am I? The current slowdown has made me a bit more skeptical of predictions of how much temperatures are going to rise (1) and also less sure about how much of observed warming is caused by us (2), despite the conclusions of the article linked to above. I've always been skeptical of scary stories that focus only on worst-case scenario costs and ignore all benefits (3) like boosts to agricultural yields in Canada and Russia and fewer deaths due to extreme cold. I still wonder whether it's worth doing anything at all about the problem (4). I'm also not convinced that curbing our use of fossil fuels is the right solution (5), if in fact we do need a solution. Innovative technological fixes and adaptation might make more sense than weaning ourselves off oil.
But the thing I'm most skeptical about is the frankly fanciful idea that governments can centrally plan us out of this problem (6), if problem it really be. Even if what we have is an example of market failure, with carbon emissions being a negative externality of the use of fossil fuels, there is no guarantee that action by government players, with all their backscratching and influence-peddling and careerism and inefficiencies and political intrigues, can fix the problem any better than markets themselves can. Quite the contrary. If the time comes when the case for action is solid, everything I know about economics and politics tells me that we would be better off if governments would get out of the way as much as possible and let insurance companies and technological entrepreneurs and voluntary associations and tort law decide on the best courses of action.