From a Lukewarmer standpoint, when climate change is discussed by politicians running for office, little good is done. Precious little knowledge is displayed. No judgement at all is discerned.
On the other hand, when a politician no longer is running for office, we can see where her or his priorities lie. Thus, when several newspapers reported today that President Obama is unveiling his new and more robust EPA Plan for reducing U.S. emissions we can see several interesting themes.
First, his plan is indeed a war on coal. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is correct with his label. I support this war on coal, however–I am of the opinion that developed countries should move away from coal as quickly as possible. In part this is to give leeway to developing countries to continue using coal as they develop. In part it is to take the lead on developing alternatives. But in part it is because I believe that coal kills, even in rich countries. Coal kills miners, but it also kills through pollution via fly ash, mercury and simple emissions. It is an archaic fuel that served us well for a long time. But it’s time to say goodbye to it as a major fuel source.
Second, President Obama, who I support, respect and admire, is choosing to play politics with his proffered solutions. Setting a minimum of 28% of generating capacity from renewables and not including hydropower or nuclear as part of the renewable portfolio is ‘picking winners’, something government is not really very good at. Setting emission targets at 32% lower than 2005 by 2030 is not a big deal–I think we’ll make that with room to spare. But pushing states away from natural gas and towards more costly wind and solar isn’t going to help.
Third, by reviving the zombie of Cap and Trade (albeit a modified version of intrastate markets), President Obama is bowing to lobbyists for industry sectors not even associated with energy to help make money. Cap and Trade is unlikely to work. Even if it works it won’t work as well as a carbon tax. It will increase bureaucracy and skew incentives.
It shows Obama once again as a pragmatic Democrat who is doing what Democrats do–going out of their way to satisfy party stakeholders, even at the expense of the nation’s best interests. I’m a Democrat and I’m willing to put up with some of these games to get coal out of the picture–but this is very close to going too far.
But in contrast, Democrat Bernie Sanders and the gaggle of Republican candidates for the role of Obama’s replacement are incredibly worse. Here is a sample of their foolishness:
Bernie Sanders: ““Climate change is the greatest threat facing the planet,” Sanders said. He added that “the debate is over.” Fail. The planet faces a dozen threats greater than climate change and the debate has barely begun.
Dammit, I’m with Sanders on a lot of issues–I really am a confirmed leftist and I like the guy. This ritual obeisance to the party line on climate change is stupid–he’s more than willing to confront the party elders on other issues. There’s no reason apart from ignorance that he would accept the exaggerations of the Konsensus.
As bad as that is, the Republicans are worse:
“Rick Santorum calls climate change “a beautifully concocted scheme.””
No, climate change is real. It has been observed for decades. The planet has warmed and we have contributed.
“Senator Ted Cruz contends that no climate change has been recorded in the last 15 years, bluntly declaring, “It hasn’t happened.””
This is reminiscent of the Know Nothing nonsense of prior centuries. Global warming has stalled. But we do have records that go back more than 15 years. The world has warmed by 0.8 C since 1880 and 0.5C of that is since 1950.
“Ben Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon, has said, “We may be warming. We may be cooling.””
No, Dr. Carson, we have been warming. We’re in a pause right now. We are not cooling.
“Former Florida governor Jeb Bush grants that climate change is real, but he is unwilling to say it is caused by humans.”
Bush is obviously the best politician here–what he says is the least offensive of the statements, but only because he doesn’t say that humans haven’t contributed to global warming.
“Donald Trump, meanwhile, sees a conspiracy: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing noncompetitive.””
Donald Trump is insane. I don’t know how else to characterize him. He’s insane about immigration. He’s insane about John McCain. He’s insane about the Chinese creating the concept of global warming. People are saying his candidaccy might be the equivalent of Perot’s quixotic play for the presidency, which gave a victory to a Clinton at the expense of a Bush. But really, Trump’s bombast and obvious ignorance of just about everything really is more reminiscent of another politician from an earlier era:
That’s Benito Mussolini, for younger readers.