Ran across a couple articles in the last week or so that made me wonder if the so-called progressives are worried about the inconvenient truth that many of the doomsday predictions of the global warming (oops, make that global climate change, they have to cover all the bases) crowd are not sinking into the American public consciousness like they anticipated the forecasts would. In the “wishful thinking” department we have a story from Marc Santora of the New York Times and weighing in with “helpful advice” is Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun.
Santora takes a look at just how far the conservatives in the GOP field attempt to bend in order to catch a look from the green crowd. His column looks at how the first-tier hopefuls (Giuliani, Romney, and McCain in particular) would address the issue and approves most the McCain focus on “cap and trade” provisions, increased CAFE standards, and possibly joining in with the Kyoto Protocol. Meanwhile, Rodricks’ column in essence carries the viewpoint that the green train is leaving the station and the GOP had better catch it. In both cases we need to wonder just how helpful the advice would be since I doubt either writer looks at anything other than the “D” side of the election ballot, unless of course the Greens have a candidate.
Historically the Republicans have done their share for environmentalism, in particular noted conservationist Teddy Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, who signed the Environmental Protection Agency into existence. But given the Grand Old Party’s traditional support for big business and fewer federal regulations, they naturally become the target of those who want to redistribute capital from producing items to make life better to enhancing the government coffers in the name of cleaning and cooling our planet.
For the sake of argument, I’ll accept the Rodricks premise that global warming is real (possible) and man-made (doubtful.) Penalizing America and our way of life by getting rid of SUV’s and increasing restrictions on land use and consumerism does exactly nothing to stop the Chinese from building a filth-belching coal-burning power plant every week. But someday all the restrictions will stop us from polluting as the last of the smokestack industries moves overseas to escape the onerous regulations endorsed by Rodricks and his radically environmentalist ilk.
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Nor does he account for some of the possible good effects of global warming, particularly on food production. A millennium ago, the Vikings settled Greenland because there was a growing season there, brought about by a warm stretch of global weather. A warming trend like that may again allow crop production on that large land mass, along with more of the northern extremes of Canada and Siberia.
Before I get much farther, let me note that I have no problem with encouraging more energy-efficient buildings and transportation – to a point. Generally a payback of 5 to 10 years is considered acceptable in the building world, while automobiles have to balance the requirements of additional fuel economy with the safety and comfort of occupants. My issue tends to be with those who favor increasing government revenue and influence to combat a problem that has not been conclusively proven to be our doing.
So I think we should thank Marc Santora and Dan Rodricks for their input, but cheerfully ignore it and continue a quest to find green solutions that involve the private sector, the overall market, and all the common sense we have to muster.
Crossposted on monoblogue.