Perhaps The Most Cogent Essay On Climate Change I Have Read In Recent Months

George Schultz was Secretary of State for Ronald Reagan’s administration from 1982 to 1989.

I voted against Reagan twice, having lived in California while he was governor and not being impressed with the results. Reagan went on to become a conservative hero. George Schultz is one of the reasons why.

Here’s a picture of him with a friend:


From Wikipedia: “George Pratt Shultz (born December 13, 1920) is an American economist, statesman, and businessman. He served as the United States Secretary of Labor from 1969 to 1970, as the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1970 to 1972, as theU.S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1972 to 1974, and as the U.S. Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989. Before entering politics, he was professor of economics at MIT and the University of Chicago, serving as Dean of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business from 1962 to 1969. Between 1974 and 1982, Shultz was an executive at Bechtel, eventually becoming the firm’s president. He is currently a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

George P. Schultz has an article in the Washington Post about climate change. (Thanks, Marty, for bringing it to our attention.) It is perhaps the most cogent and common-sensical article I have read about the subject this year (sadly including my own writings… sigh…)

Schultz is not a starry-eyed liberal. Heck, he’s now with the Hoover Institution. He’s a hard-nosed economist, pragmatic and solutions-oriented.

As a Lukewarmer, most of my ‘opinion’ pieces are about the harm done to the goal of understanding climate and climate change by lobbyists and NGOs who exaggerate the threat of CO2 and focus on it to the exclusion of all else.

Often lost in my tweaking the noses of these people (who very badly need their noses tweaked) is the very real fact that the globe is warming and despite a recent ‘stall’ (as James Hansen characterized it), there is no indication that our planet’s climate is ready to cool off.

Our changes to land cover, the black carbon from our smokestacks, our production of cement, all are causing artificial changes to our climate.

So are our emissions of CO2.

Even with lower calculations of sensitivity of our atmosphere to a doubling of the concentrations of CO2, our emissions, added to our other impacts on the climate, point towards a problematic future–not a Waterworld, not a catastrophe, but an expensive and time consuming adaptation to new conditions.

It could cost trillions of dollars over the course of this century.

As Schultz points out in his article, there are things we could do to lessen our impact on the climate and its subsequent impact on our children’s lives.

We could spend more on research into energy storage and distribution. We could help China get scrubbers on all their coal plants. We could remove many–even most–of the regulations for nuclear power plants and settle on a standard design allowing mass production.

Over there in the U.S. (I’m writing from Taipei), many have reduced the climate conversation to a partisan political issue–and there’s no doubt that part of the impact of Schultz’s article stems from his stature, but also from his standing on the conservative side of the political fence.

Those opposed to any action on climate change who also happen to be Republicans, if your opinion on this issue is based on study of the climate, I have no problem with you. However, for those who side with the skeptics because they are true conservatives or anti-Democrats, I urge you to at least see what some on your side of the fence have to say.



4 responses to “Perhaps The Most Cogent Essay On Climate Change I Have Read In Recent Months

  1. I’m sorry. I was too subtle. George Schultz is the man I want everyone to imagine as the stereotype alarmist. He was there when Ronald “you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all” Reagan increased the funding for greenhouse research while slashing other environmental research.. He was there when the Reagan regime started funding Thatcher’s UAE global warming panic shop. The funding was monitored by the Oak Ridge Nuke Lab. George knows what global warming was about. He along with Bloomberg, McCain, Gingrich.
    Am I still being too subtle?

  2. From schultz’s piece:

    First, let’s have significant and sustained support for energy research and development. More of that is going on right now than in any previous period. The costs to the federal budget are small — little more than a rounding error — and a serious government effort would attract private capital from investors who want to know what’s new and want to contribute. These efforts are producing results. For example, we can now produce electricity from the wind and the sun at close to the same price we pay for electricity from other sources, and we may soon know how to do cost-effective large-scale storage of electricity, thus greatly reducing the intermittency problems of solar and wind and producing a hedge against the great vulnerability of our power grid.

    I’m all for more research. What does he mean by, “we can now produce electricity from the wind and the sun at close to the same price we pay for electricity from other sources”? How is this priced? If you replace a little bit of Gas turbine powered electricity, you’re replacing the cost of the gas? If you’re replaciing all the gas powered electricity, and it costs the same, but only runs half the time, don’t you have to buy twice as much capacity? I sure can’t tell when I read websites like this:

    Schultz says “we may soon know how to do cost-effective large-scale storage of electricity”. Really? How does he know this? Are there really good prospects for this? How about the prospects for a plug in hybrib air liner?

    I would just like to reccomend his guy’s YouTube lectures:

    • Whoever told Mr. Shultz that we can produce wind and solar power at prices competitive to coal, water or nuclear should apologize for assisting Mr. Schultz in spreading untruths.

  3. He is totally wrong when he tries to claim Reagan would support him..
    George Schulz recommended raising gas taxes when the price dropped. Reagan just smiled at him.

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