Crusades become vested interests

Holman Jenkins in yesterday’s WSJ:  Climate change no longer requires any painful root-canal actions. No need for unpopular energy taxes or giving up our energy-rich lifestyles.

During the decades we’ve been waiting for actual climate data to validate or invalidate our climate models (we’re still waiting), at least one phenomenon has been reliably observed. This is the political domestication and co-optation of the once-vexing global warming hypothesis.

A pioneering shaman of this transmutation was BP CEO John Browne, who in the 1990s declared his company “beyond petroleum,” then proceeded on a series of mergers that made it an even bigger petroleum company. GE, Ford, DuPont and others quickly lined up behind a U.S. cap-and-trade bill. There can be something for everybody in treating carbon dioxide as a problem, they realized. That is, as long as nobody is so crazy (wink, wink) as to actually try to slow down materially the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere.

Makes a great point about measuring the entire environmental effects of producing a thing, and not just obsessing over one dimension (in this case, CO2):

A new study from Arthur D. Little finds that, over its lifecycle, an electric car will generate just 23% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a gasoline-powered car. If every car on earth were electric, this translates into a mere 1.8% decline in total emissions.

Yet even a small electric car will cost its owner $20,816 more to own and operate than a comparable gas-powered car, and its total “human toxicity”—mainly due to heavy metals and graphite—will be three to five times greater.

This is hardly the first study to demonstrate that electric cars solve no environmental problem. Will it make a difference? No. We’re way beyond that now.

And the estimates of warming drop as the estimates of current proposed polices climb:

In its latest report, issued in 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expanded the range of uncertainty regarding future warming—and in the direction of less warming.

It abandoned its central forecast, in its 2007 report, of 3 degrees Centigrade of warming. Now it issues no central forecast.

It said in 2007 that a warming as slight as 1.5 degrees was “very unlikely.” Now it puts the bottom stop at 1 degree.

The latest climate models are backing off on the size of “climate sensitivity.” This implies climate change will be smaller and less severe than earlier estimates.

Even less noticed, it implies a higher, more astronomical cost for avoiding any given amount of warming.

Fortunately there is a simple solution:  “The problem can be solved with handouts to the green energy lobby. Who doesn’t like distributing handouts?

Don’t expect to hear about this in the mainstream media for a decade or so, and then only because today’s editors and reporters have retired. The climate reporting industry has long since given itself over to propaganda rather than actually reporting on climate science.

The larger lesson here isn’t about climate change. It’s about democratic sclerosis. It’s about the endless multiplication of vested interests that taxpayers and consumers are forced to support in our supposedly free society.

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