Jacob Sullum compares Obama’s plan for green jobs to the broken windows fallacy (via Reason):
Obama says he will “transform the challenge of global climate change into an opportunity to create 5 million new green jobs,” which he likens to the economic activity triggered by the personal computer. This way of looking at climate change is a variation on the broken window fallacy, according to which the loss caused by a smashed window is offset by the employment it gives the glazier.
By the same logic, Obama should view war, crime, and hurricanes as opportunities to create jobs. All three generate economic activity, but we’d be better off if the resources spent on bombs, burglar alarms, and reconstruction were available for other purposes, instead of being used to inflict, prevent, or recover from losses.
Likewise, overhauling manufacturing, transportation, and power production to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide may or may not be justified, but it is properly viewed as a drag on the economy. We’d be better off if we didn’t have to worry about, and use resources to minimize, climate change.
We can’t afford to waste resources on junk science projects.