Friday, July 23, 2010

The Surrender on Climate Change

When the history of climate change is written -- from, presumably, a very well air-conditioned lair someplace -- this week's surrender by the Democrats will occupy a prominent chapter -- at least as prominent as that on Copenhagen Dec-09, and probably even greater.

The Democrats simply said: we give up. Perhaps Obama did not have much political capital left. Perhaps you can blame it on the deep and stubborn recession. Perhaps you can blame it on the professional prevaricators like Marc Morano and James Inhofe.

Without the US -- the world's only superpower and one of the gigantic historical contributors to climate change (and also, let's be fair, to revealing and understanding its science) -- then the rest of the world is unlikely to do anything significant.

And if we can't do it now, it's unlikely we'll be able to do anything for years. The issue is just not prone to crises and the American public is apparently understand the long-term implications of our current energy usage.

And too selfish.

As I heard Nate Lewis (of Caltech) point out at a conference last year, we're really always planning for about 40 years down the road. In other words, the design + construction + working time for energy infrastructure is about 40 years. In other words, we're now pretty much guaranteed that energy production in the year 2050 is going to look pretty much as it does today. That's a frightening thought.

I can't imagine anything more that scientists, journalists, thinkers, concerned citizens, and writers can do to change this to any significant extent.

Not a thing.


rhhardin said...

It's a credulity failure, not a planning failure.

David Appell said...

> It's a credulity failure,
> not a planning failure.

No, it's not.... The case for an anthropogenic influence has clearly been proved and is unlikely to be proved in much stronger terms.

Maguire said...

It is imperative that we create a plan to alter our energy consumption an emissions of all kinds if we are going to have any hope of sparing some of the effects we have had on altering the climate.

There is an interview series on climate change that you might enjoy.

Anonymous said...


"No, it's not.... The case for an anthropogenic influence has clearly been proved and is unlikely to be proved in much stronger terms."

Influence yes, but "serious negative" influence clearly not. Otherwise you would get public/political action now.

If you are truly concerned about co2 then it may be time to push for a rapid transition from coal to LFTR. Such a push is politically doable (and will contain co2 emissions) while cap and trade et al is not.


Steve Bloom said...

ch, the thing about c+t or any first bill on this subject is that it was always going to be weak. The significance and controversy are about the symbolism of taking that first step. This is why enviros are unhappy but accepting of a weak bill as long as it's not coupled with crippling the EPA's regulatory authority.

My current read of the steaming pile of entrails that is DC politics is that the failure to pass a meaningful climate bill will become Exhibit A in filibuster reform (either to 55 votes or outright abolition) after the election.

Anonymous said...

SB, Are you suggesting that senate filibuster rules will be changed in a lame duck session?