GREEN jobs have long had a whiff of exaggeration to them. The alternative-energy sector may ultimately employ millions of people. But raising the cost of the energy that households and businesses use every day — a necessary effect of helping the climate — is not exactly a recipe for an economic boom.
The stronger argument for a major government response to climate change is the more obvious argument: climate change. ...
The two sides in the climate debate have spent recent years offering dueling — and dubious — economic claims. Switching to more expensive, cleaner energy does not promise a free lunch of more prosperity and a healthier planet. But it also does not need to result in stagnation. A federal climate response brings a mix of costs and benefits, and the specific policies that Mr. Obama and Congress pursue will help determine the balance.
In the end, the strongest economic argument for an aggressive response to climate change is not the much trumpeted windfall of green jobs. It’s the fact that the economy won’t function very well in a world full of droughts, hurricanes and heat waves.
The middle of the article is a summary of the available climate policy options, and their relative efficiencies, over the next 4 (3? 2? 1?) years.