The Decline of Climate Alarmism (Will the Left rethink an increasingly futile crusade?)
My ‘Left’ friends are mad at me now that the climate debate/ discussion has shifted, at least temporarily, from Save the World to Why Did We Fail? Here is what a former Enron executive (his name will remain confidential) emailed me a few days ago:
Rob- shame on you. The [Breakthrough Institute] article [Apocalypse Fatigue: Losing the Public on Climate Change] names only 3 reasons why the U.S. will not address climate mitigation: far off threat, greed, and telling them what they don’t want to hear. It ignores the real reason: the constant effort from people like yourself to undermine the case for action with its ancillary affect of dividing the country and paralyzing the system.
Then the sarcasm comes in:
I am not being facetious: you should pat yourself on that back for helping create an atmosphere that will prevent any meaningful action on the false threat of climate change from happening in this country. It is a proud moment and credit to your hard work. I tip my hat.
Now, there are a lot of people who would love to take credit for helping to derail any piece of all pain-no gain legislation. But Waxman-Markey probably would not pass the House today if a re-vote were taken, and even some Democratic Senators know that being Democrat includes not needlessly increasing energy prices for their constituents.
Still, I took some offense at this email and wrote back in all seriousness:
I am surprised …. I thought you were having second doubts about the increasingly false alarm of high-sensitivity warming. And to me the lessons of Enron include the fake green stuff we were doing–and the fake stuff that [our old colleague Jim] Rogers [of Duke Energy] is doing at the expense of his customers and broader society.
[Texas A&M Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Oceanography] Jerry North told me just last week that he is more convinced than ever that the warming is at the very bottom of the IPCC range, which some top climate economists say makes CO2 a positive externality, not a negative one. We have peer-reviewed articles on how feedback effects are not the big amplifiers that the models (must) assume.
I am proud to do whatever I can to get 1.5 billion people off wood and dung and on to diesel and coal. What I am not proud of is all the money that my side and the other side are spending to cancel each other out–all this money should go to human needs, the arts, and plain old savings and investment.
My colleague did not offer a rebuttal but lightened the climate subject in his next communication. We are buddies. We have learned much from each other and are Enron survivors.
Still, I wondered how the open-minded Left (not those like Joe Romm and his following, who are addicted to climate alarmism and will need to go through the denial-anger-sadness-acceptance cycle of recovery) will cope with the reality that politics cannot effectively address the problem as they even see it.
But there are reasons why even the Environmental Left should get off the climate alarmism bandwagon with its open-ended, pernicious public-policy program.
- Higher costs and less reliability for consumers, particularly lower-income consumers (and the 1.5 billion in abject energy poverty).
- Resurrection of (highly uneconomic) nuclear power.
- Geoengineering/climate modification schemes where man further interferes with climate.
- Corporate rent-seeking (political capitalism) writ large
- Wasted resources in the huge lobbying fight by Left/Center/Right non-profits–money and other resources that could go meet to human needs or support the arts.
Perhaps other reasons can be added to this list. Suffice it to say the current carbon crusade has unintended consequences for even its proponents. Is it time to move on?