Obama Quits on Climate Change

November 5th, 2010 at 7:50 am | 34 Comments |

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President Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase “Bully Pulpit” to describe the great opportunity provided by the presidency to rally the public to worthy causes. President Reagan used it to great effect, as did Democrat Presidents Kennedy and Clinton, but the opportunity seems lost on President Obama.

Obama’s failings in this regard were on grand display in his post-election press conference. Obama offered an analytical assessment of the election and signaled lower expectations over the next two years.

This was especially true with respect to addressing our nation’s energy and climate challenges.

Obama, in expressing his willingness to find common ground with Republicans, backtracked from pursuing comprehensive legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, saying:

I think there are a lot of Republicans that ran against the energy bill that passed in the House last year.  And so it’s doubtful that you could get the votes to pass that through the House this year or next year or the year after…what we’re probably going to have to do is say here are some areas where there’s just too much disagreement between Democrats and Republicans, we can’t get this done right now, but let’s not wait.  Let’s go ahead and start making some progress on the things that we do agree on.

That is the type of assessment one might expect from a political pundit, but it is a sorry way for a president to start the last half of his term, assuming he really wants to get something done.

President Reagan did not publicly lower expectations in the face of a Democrat-controlled Congress. He took his case to the American public, sold his ideas, and asked them to pressure Congress.

Obama’s words and actions seem politically calculated to avoid risk.

During the effort to move climate legislation earlier this year, Obama shied away from getting behind specific legislation and signaled concessions far in advance, often undercutting the ability of allies to effectively negotiate.

There is a great case to be made for putting limits on GHG emissions to reduce our heavy dependence on finite fossil fuels, improve our national security, safeguard our atmosphere, and beat China to the punch by providing American companies the regulatory certainty needed to unlock investment in alternative energy and conservation technologies.

This is something that Americans of all political stripes could be convinced to support. Unfortunately, President Obama seems incapable of producing the passion, words or effort required to convincingly make that case to the public. “Yes, we can” has become “well, maybe, if someone else goes first.”

At the Berlin Wall, President Reagan did not say: “Mr. Gorbachev, if you’re up for it, and if the KGB wouldn’t mind, could you think about making this wall a bit shorter?”

We’re a long way from the days when Obama sounded like Moses in promising to slow down the rise of the seas.

This failure of leadership is not only a liability in advancing legislative solutions. It will also be a liability if some Republican leaders follow through on their threats to attack EPA and try to tie its hands with respect to regulating GHG emissions.

The public overwhelmingly supports strong environmental protections. By effectively using the bully pulpit, the president could use these attacks to go on the offense and challenge Congress to produce its own legislative solutions or shut up and let EPA fulfill its responsibilities under the Clean Air Act.

The president’s stated willingness to reach across the aisle would be a refreshing change from his overly partisan tactics of the past, but unless he can rally the public to put pressure on Republicans for real energy and climate solutions, Republicans will have no reason to move beyond partisan rhetoric—and the president’s lower expectations will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Recent Posts by David Jenkins



34 Comments so far ↓

  • CD-Host

    Elections have consequences. While environmental policy is a winner most people in favor of it won’t vote based on it. OTOH people opposed will. Its like gun control. One of the very smart things the Democrats are starting to do is muck when they see areas where Republicans are picking up single issue voters.

    Obama did not run on environmental policy as a core belief. There is no reason for him to burn capital on it. Let the Republicans burn capital and just veto what they pass. We are going to have hearing about the “hoax” of GHG. People who care about global warming should be and in large part are Democrats. The Republican party is taking a clear anti environmental stand.

  • balconesfault

    I like the idea of Obama challenging the GOP head on on this issue – because it would highlight that he’s dealing with a bunch of extremists who have absolutely no interest in compromise.

    But seriously, that’s the only point to trying to push a Joe Barton-led Committee on Energy and Commerce to move a climate change bill. Political theater.

    There is no way Joe Barton advances any bill aimed at controlling carbon emissions.

    On the flipside, what’s the House going to do with respect to EPA moving forward on CO2 emission regulations – defund the EPA? That timeline keeps moving.

    Actually, that’s very possible … I could well see the House voting to defund the EPA on this issue … and Obama will have allowed the Congressional Republicans to shine the light on themselves as extremists without having to burn any of his own political capital.

    But I do like the comparison of the GOP to the Evil Empire. Chuckle.

  • Carney

    When people hear “environmental protection”, they think of conventional pollution, not carbon dioxide, the gas we all exhale along with water vapor. They think of smoke, sulfur, mercury, and lead; they think of oil spills, toxic waste, lung cancer. They don’t think of a naturally abundant non-toxic gas that’s already common in the atmosphere and which plants need to breathe.

    Even when directly asked whether they support measures to deal with greenhouse gas emissions (especially when phrased positively with word such as “strong” rather than “harsh”), I strongly suspect they are just saying what they think they are supposed to say to be seen as nice, responsible people. But it’s unwise to over-interpret that as a sweeping mandate to impose extreme, expensive government restrictions that increase the price of literally everything and cost jobs.

    It’s certainly possible to build support for switching energy sources on the basis of national security but in that context, carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, and other measures are completely ineffective.

    In the first place, they sweepingly treat all three fossil fuels alike, but coal does not enrich our enemies at all, and natural gas only somewhat. It’s only petroleum that our enemies have permanent control of the world market for, and thus the world price. Too much energy policy consists of trying to divert national security-driven anti-oil sentiment into a completely irrelevant crusade against coal.

    Secondly, increasing petroleum prices does not by itself cause us to break free of petroleum. OPEC itself showed this by jacking up the price from $10 a barrel in 1999 to $140 a barrel in 2008. And yet progress in getting off oil was minor at best; we were still so dependent on it in 2008 that eventually the price reached economy-crushing levels. I’m unaware of any energy policy proposal that seeks to impose, either directly or indirectly, a 1,400% tax on petroleum, let alone a substantially higher tax. Thus, any carbon tax or cap-and-trade price increase will be even less effective than the minimally effective “tax” we already went through.

    The key problem is that oil is in effect the monopoly source of transportation fuel. Even trains and ships, which once ran on coal, now run on oil. Thus the transportation sector is a captive market, forced to pay whatever price the oil cartel sees fit to demand. What we need to do is set the captives free. Require that all new gasoline cars sold in America be fully flex-fueled, able to run equally easily on alternative liquid fuel based on alcohol such as methanol, ethanol, propanol, and butanol. The engineering changes to do this are trivial, costing automakers only about $130 per new car at the factory. Ethanol is made from starchy or sugary biomass, and methanol can be made from natural gas, coal, or any biomass at all (including trash and sewage).

    See http://www.energyvictory.net

    Now THIS is actually an area that has potential for bipartisan cooperation. Both Obama and McCain formally endorsed a flex-fuel mandate in their 2008 campaigns. The Open Fuel Standards Act that languished, neglected, in this past Congress (S. 835 and H.R. 1476) was sponsored/co-sponsored by a broad coalition of Members of Congress, from staunch liberals like Alcee Hastings and Eliot Engel to hardcore conservatives like Roscoe Bartlett and Sam Brownback. National security conservatives like Fox News mainstay and Center for Security Policy head Frank Gaffney as well as Cliff May head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, are on board (the latter having praised a flex fuel mandate in none other than the defining journal of the conservative movement, National Review).

    I’m not saying the GOP and the right would line up monolithically behind a flex fuel mandate, but there’s real potential here – Obama can, if he plays his cards right, peel off enough GOP support to credibly claim bipartisan status and get an accomplishment in the record books. A REAL accomplishment – because at long last the days of our auto fleet being unnecessarily locked in to Enemy Fuel will be over.

  • sinz54

    balconesfault: I do like the comparison of the GOP to the Evil Empire.
    So does Obama, who called Republicans and conservatives “enemies”.

    The contemptuous dismissal of their political opponents as evil is exactly why liberals are so despised themselves in the heartland. Liberals act like they don’t even care about convincing the rest of the electorate of their views, just so long as they can be cowed or intimidated into silence.

    I have tried to have a civil discussion with you on the energy. But since you hate my guts, I no longer have any reason to continue this discussion. If FrumForum had killfiles, you would have just been plonked into mine.

  • djenkins

    balconesfault, Joe Barton will probably not have the Energy and Commerce gavel, Fred Upton is the most likely choice. Barton is term limited in that role and his apology to BP made it unlikely he gets a waiver. Still, you are correct. I have no illusions of the House passing a climate bill anytime soon, but the president still needs to sell it to the American public and put pressure on Republicans to defend their unwillingness to offer real solutions.

    Carney, you make some valid points. Flexfuel is a no-brainer, but we need the retail infrastructure to make those options viable. I disagree about coal. Coal is not the solution to our oil dependence problem, not only because of its environmental problems, but also due to supply problems. Our supply of easily accessible coal would run out pretty quick if we relied on it to replace oil. The coal industy’s rosey estimates of our coal reserves include coal deposits that are extremely difficult and costly to mine.

    Also, the main goal of a price on carbon is not to price oil and coal to the point that consumers stop driving or turning on the lights. That won’t happen. The goal is to send a market price signal that makes other energy sources more competative and encourages investment in these alternatives. Absent that, investors are wary that OPEC and other peddlers of fossil fuels will manipulate the market to undercut alternative energy investments.

    Some also think that a price on carbon alone won’t accomplish this, that you must have a firm cap on the amount of carbon allowed.

  • balconesfault

    djenkins – I hadn’t realized that Upton would have the role. That is encouraging. I don’t think he can actually lead the GOP on this matter, since I see the GOP as too radicalized in their opposition to any climate change legislation for anything to happen unless Rush Limbaugh had an epiphany one night and came in the next day selling the need for us to finally join the rest of the world in working seriously on this issue.

    But at least Upton is unlikely to feature denialists in any future energy bill hearings. That’s a positive.

    As for Obama – I’d like to see him pushing Congress to do something. But then, the time to have really done that was last spring, when the Senate could have taken up the bill and done something with it, given that there was a strong bill out of the House to already work with. Right now it would just be one more battleground in an upcoming war where Obama is probably going to pick his battles very carefully.

    So if, for example, he had the sense that moderate pro-environment Republicans would actually break ranks and support such a move, causing a schism in the GOP power structure, I could see him spending capital on it. But right now there’s pretty scant evidence that that’s likely.

    investors are wary that OPEC and other peddlers of fossil fuels will manipulate the market to undercut alternative energy investments.

    This is the one strongest reason I’ve heard cited for why we need Cap and Trade, and not just a Carbon Tax. Because Cap and Trade has mechanisms that will facilitate “tweaking” of the formulae in the future in response to such manipulations that can be achieved via bureaucratic processes.

    But we’ll pretty much have one shot, and one shot only, at setting a Carbon Tax, and once it’s in place if it’s too high it stymies the economy and probably gets thrown out altogether (rather than nudged down) … and if it’s too low nothing really happens except for creating a new revenue stream.

    Oh yeah … and a flex fuel mandate would be good. It would be a very useful part of an overall energy strategy.

    But it is Big Government imposing its will. Just so nobody harbors any illusions …

  • easton

    I am with CD-Host on this.
    “assuming he really wants to get something done.” Unemployment is 9.6%, why would he do anything that would make that number go higher? I agree with Carney and flex fuels, and would love to see more nuclear power, but lets face it, nukes aren’t exactly shovel ready projects.

    Sinz: The contemptuous dismissal of their political opponents as evil is exactly why liberals are so despised themselves in the heartland.

    Oh, so Republicans flat out lying that Obama’s trip to Asia will cost $200 million a day, with 34 warships going with him, that is fine.
    Anyone who flat out lies about something as trivial as the budget of a President making state visits is EVIL. Being despised by demons is perfectly acceptable by me. For the record I also hated the Liberal whackjobs who said General Betrayus.

    And don’t give me bs that I am somekind of uber liberal. I have proposed quite a few Conservative solutions to our fiscal situation. It is not Conservatism I hate (in fact, I support many positions), just a hell of a lot of Conservatives

    As to this article, please, comparing the Berlin Wall to marginally reducing greenhouse gases, at the same time they are spiking in India, China, Latin America, and Africa, is deranged. One is overcoming tyranny that imprisoned hundreds of millions, the other is making no real difference. Lets face it, as to GHG’s that ship has sailed. I would love to defund jihadists, but the Republicans have to much invested with big oil to do anything real about it.

  • PatrickQuint

    “But it is Big Government imposing its will. Just so nobody harbors any illusions …”

    It’s government encouraging free market competition by breaking a monopoly. All but the most economically conservative agree that breaking monopolies is within a government’s power. This can be justified both as a national security matter and under regulation of commerce for those strict constitutionalists.

    You could also sell it as far better than relying on foreign less-than-friendly states with control of oil.

  • Carney

    djenkins, I’m glad you don’t want to use higher energy prices to try to club consumers into using less energy. Many greens want to do precisely that. It’s good that you understand that energy substitution is the more feasible and desirable policy rather than conservation.

    However, as I said, higher prices alone don’t help with that. A 1,400% price premium did not do nearly enough to encourage alternatives. Instead, drivers just suffered helplessly like animals with their legs in a trap.

    Only once drivers have fuel choice, and their cars are compatible with alternatives, THAT is the time to explore taxing gasoline, or subsidizing its alternatives. But we’ve been putting the cart before the horse for decades. The crucial, ignored first step is the CARS.

  • CD-Host

    Well Carney congrads you have converted everyone on FrumForum to your flex fuel proposal. Once nice is it is something big that both sides could agree on.

    In terms of switching, I like the electrical grid improvement and wind. That’s a decade worth of work that line us up for progress. Also it is labor intensive since you have to hit each power pole so it makes for nice stimulus.

  • balconesfault

    PatrickQuint // Nov 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    “But it is Big Government imposing its will. Just so nobody harbors any illusions …”

    It’s government encouraging free market competition by breaking a monopoly.

    It’s BIG GOVERNMENT encouraging free market competition by breaking a monopoly.

    You can’t suddenly declare that 13 million cars a year implement a non-safety based technology change without believing in Big Government.

    Which I’m all for, incidentally. I agree that Big Government has a mandate from the American People to encourage free market competition by breaking monopolies.

    I’ll also note that if you want to scale Government back, and drown it in the bathtub, you can’t expect it to manage the economy. And lets face it – this proposal is definitely managing … some would even say “micromanaging” … the economy.

    Carney A 1,400% price premium did not do nearly enough to encourage alternatives. Instead, drivers just suffered helplessly like animals with their legs in a trap.

    I disagree. Today you’re seeing a lot more advertisements for cars touting their fuel efficiency than you did 5 years ago. People get the message when gasoline prices eat more of their dollars. It’s just that when gas prices drop to near 1960′s costs in constant dollars terms, people forget.

    Which loops back to djenkins point, that OPEC will manipulate prices to encourage Americans to maintain an infrascture (lack of public transportation, low mpg vehicle fleet, lack of replacement fuel capacity) that keeps consumption high.

    Sinz – Obama already noted that he misspoke, and meant to say that Republicans were enemies of his proposed immigration reforms. On the other hand, Mitch McConnell has stated that the primary legislative agenda for the GOP in the upcoming Congress is to defeat Obama in 2012.

    Which one is at war with the other?

    By the way, I don’t hate your guts. I find you one of the more reasonable Republicans on many issues. I do note a lot of seeming deep set philosophical inconsistencies in what you say here – sometimes it seems you’re two different people posting under the same name – and I tend to point those out when I see them. Perhaps this causes you cognative dissonance, and you’re mad at me for bringing up points which give you those feelings?

    I personally was amused with the comparison of Republicans to the Evil Empire on this forum, which is why I chuckled at it. I certainly agree with Easton that comparing Climate Change legislation to the Berlin Wall is deranged, although I disagree over the idea that a serious Climate Change bill in the US would have no impact on global warming, when our 4% of the world population is responsible for about 25% of the global CO2 emissions.

    And if we’re smart, and link a climate change bill to trade policy, we could singlehandedly drive massive emissions reductions worldwide.

  • balconesfault

    CDHost – In terms of switching, I like the electrical grid improvement and wind. That’s a decade worth of work that line us up for progress. Also it is labor intensive since you have to hit each power pole so it makes for nice stimulus.

    It’s funny, because as I type this I’m watching/listening to an AWEA webinar on legislative expectations for wind going forward, and they’re talking specifically about the need for transmission as well as a new renewable portfolio standard for renewables to stimulate wind development.

  • Stewardship

    The example of the 2008 spike in oil prices is not illustrative of what happens when fossil fuels increase in price. First, it was a short term spike. The alternative fuels market (existing and future) cannot be turned on with a switch when oil or coal prices hit an intolerable level. We have to be prepared for that eventuality…kind of like the ant and the grasshopper. My fellow conservatives are behaving more like the grasshopper out of populist mentality.

    A major midwest retailer, yesterday, announced that it had opened free “recharge” stations at three of its Michigan stores for electric cars. That’s not much infrastructure. While flex fuels are more widely available, it is still going to take some stick or carrot to get automakers to go totally flex with their fleets, and to deliver flex fuels everywhere.

    Easton asked why would Obama do anything to make the unemployment number go higher? I don’t know, but he certainly could do something to spur the largest private economic stimulus our nation has ever experienced. Energy providers are sitting on $200 billion in deferred capital expenditures, waiting for the signal from Washington. Those companies aren’t going to take inaction as a sign that they should invest in coal plants. It takes a generation to recoup the capital investment…they aren’t about to pull the trigger only to have the rules changed in 4 years, or 8 years, or 12 years. They need certainty now, and we’ll see a construction and manufacturing boom in the US.

  • Rabiner

    Carney:

    Stop spouting the bs that OPEC is why oil shot up to $140 a barrel in 2008. It was oil speculators, not producers that caused the spike.

    “Easton asked why would Obama do anything to make the unemployment number go higher? I don’t know, but he certainly could do something to spur the largest private economic stimulus our nation has ever experienced. Energy providers are sitting on $200 billion in deferred capital expenditures, waiting for the signal from Washington. Those companies aren’t going to take inaction as a sign that they should invest in coal plants. It takes a generation to recoup the capital investment…they aren’t about to pull the trigger only to have the rules changed in 4 years, or 8 years, or 12 years. They need certainty now, and we’ll see a construction and manufacturing boom in the US.”

    They can come to California, we already passed environmental legislation that will come into effect this coming year: AB32. We defeated the prop measure that would of deferred it.

  • CD-Host

    Stop spouting the bs that OPEC is why oil shot up to $140 a barrel in 2008. It was oil speculators, not producers that caused the spike.

    In a normal economy a spike like that would have been met with heavy future selling. The speculators would have gone bust.

  • Carney

    Rabiner, it’s not BS. OPEC controls the petroleum market. It’s as simple as that. They have 78% of world oil reserves, including all the cheapest, easiest-to-extract, and most desirable stuff. And their share of reserves is constantly rising because they are going through their oil at a lower rate than then all the non-OPEC producers.

    The OPEC oil ministers meet and decide what they want the price of oil to be. Then they look at consumption and demand levels and set production levels accordingly. The whole point and purpose of OPEC is to produce less than market demand so as to artificially increase the price.

    These are basic facts of the modern world. You’ve heard them before, so you have no excuse for your ignorance any longer.

  • Rabiner

    CD-Host:

    exactly. http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2008/06/oil_spike.html describes what occurred. It wasn’t an actual decline in oil production, it was futures trading run amok.

    http://www.euromonitor.com/Special_Report_The_1979_vs_2008_oil_spike

    another source

  • Rabiner

    CD-Host:

    Carney I hope facts will change your mind.

    http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2008/06/oil_spike.html describes what occurred. It wasn’t an actual decline in oil production, it was futures trading run amok.

    http://www.euromonitor.com/Special_Report_The_1979_vs_2008_oil_spike

    another source

  • Rabiner

    CD-Host:

    Carney I hope facts will change your mind.

    http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2008/06/oil_spike.html describes what occurred. It wasn’t an actual decline in oil production, it was futures trading run amok.

    http://www.euromonitor.com/Special_Report_The_1979_vs_2008_oil_spike

  • balconesfault

    While flex fuels are more widely available, it is still going to take some stick or carrot to get automakers to go totally flex with their fleets, and to deliver flex fuels everywhere.

    As far as delivering flex fuels everywhere, the carrot is out there – there’s a 51 cent per gallon tax credit to refiners. The problem is demand side, and as demand increases the delivery will follow.

    *****************

    Something just occurred to me about what I really consider wrong about the whole premise of David Jenkins piece here.

    He’s on a GOP based website, attacking Obama for not aggressively pushing the GOP to do something that the GOP currently has no intention of doing.

    Maybe that attack on Obama would make sense if this site were DailyKos, or FireDogLake, or Salon.com. But given that this is a GOP site, shouldn’t the thrust be “how do we persuade Fred Upton to push CO2 legislation through his Energy Committee”? Without waiting for the President you’re committed to working to defeat in 2012 to do the persuading for you?

    My second point, wrt flex fuels – just in case the Federal Government DOES push through a mandate for cars to be sold flex fuel ready, I challenge every conservative here to act as front line soldiers against the inevitable backlash that’s going to come from Limbaugh and Hannity and Fox et al that this represents a further confiscation of the auto industry. You guys be the ones to call Limbaugh on the phone and tell him he’s wrong, so he can call you a delusional environmental Nazi. I have no stomach for listening to him long enough to get through on the call lines.

  • CD-Host

    Rabiner –

    I think you meant to reply. If it was just the articles the articles assert they don’t address the point.

  • easton

    Stewardship, good point, what I meant is that cap and trade isn’t exactly shovel ready as it were, I would rather this be handled via a stimulus or tax credits. But if Obama could get that $200 billion moving, I would certainly be happy.

  • PatrickQuint

    balconesfault “I’ll also note that if you want to scale Government back, and drown it in the bathtub, you can’t expect it to manage the economy. And lets face it – this proposal is definitely managing … some would even say “micromanaging” … the economy.”

    I suspect that few of us mind the government having some role in the economy, being explicitly allowed by the constitution and all. This is of course supposed to be a forum for moderates (comparatively).

    In this case, the policy is definitely managing the economy. I don’t see how the prefix “micro” is helpful in understanding that. An FDA recall could also be called “micromanaging” the economy. There is a difference between regulation that encourages commerce and regulation that hurts it, but that’s a conversation for another thread I think.

    Being conservative doesn’t always mean a preference for *less* government. Once the government is small enough, the conservative position is to keep it where it is. I think that the government should be big enough to cover its obligations and overhead, but nothing more.

  • balconesfault

    Being conservative doesn’t always mean a preference for *less* government.

    Thank you.

    When the GOP starts nominating candidates who reflect that sentiment, I’ll once again find GOP candidates who I can vote for – which is a good thing, since admittedly the Dems sometimes nominate candidates who are stinkers and tough to support.

    But unfortunately, outside this forum, the sentiment I hear from Republicans is consistently that “less government (outside of the DOD), less regulations, lower taxes is always better”.

  • nhthinker

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/opinion/09krosnick.html

    Large majorities opposed taxes on electricity (78 percent) and gasoline (72 percent) to reduce consumption. But 84 percent favored the federal government offering tax breaks to encourage utilities to make more electricity from water, wind and solar power.

    Tax breaks imply a reduction in the size of government.

  • sinz54

    Mr. Jenkins: There is a great case to be made for putting limits on GHG emissions to reduce our heavy dependence on finite fossil fuels, improve our national security, safeguard our atmosphere, and beat China to the punch….

    This is something that Americans of all political stripes could be convinced to support.
    WRONG.

    I’ve been reading RedState.com, have you?

    If you really think you can convince “Americans of all political stripes,” why don’t you sign up for an account on RedState.com and try convincing them?

    I can’t do that anymore.
    They banned me from that blog.

  • sinz54

    Mr. Jenkins: There is a great case to be made for putting limits on GHG emissions to reduce our heavy dependence on finite fossil fuels, improve our national security, safeguard our atmosphere, and beat China to the punch by providing American companies the regulatory certainty needed to unlock investment in alternative energy and conservation technologies.
    Your argument is also illogical.

    If global warming were not an issue, then we could handle all those other problems–dependence on foreign oil, improved national security, etc.–by expanding use of North America’s own domestic sources of fuel. We could use ethanol, natural gas, and “clean coal” technologies–all of which are available in abundance. (We won’t run out of natural gas and coal for centuries.)

    But the global warming problem requires that we abandon chemical combustion for energy altogether–since all these fuels produce carbon dioxide when burned.

    Global warming is the ONLY reason why we must abandon chemical combustion in favor of some combination of nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, solar, and wind power. And that’s going to cost us. A lot. Because a) the enormous investment in switching, and b) the technological difficulties. (How can an airliner be built that doesn’t use chemical combustion for power?)

  • sinz54

    Mr. Jenkins:

    Your argument is also illogical.

    If global warming were not an issue, then we could handle all those other problems–dependence on foreign oil, improved national security, etc.–by expanding use of North America’s own domestic sources of fuel. We could use ethanol, natural gas, and “clean coal” technologies–all of which are available in abundance. (We won’t run out of natural gas and coal for centuries.)

    But the global warming problem requires that we abandon chemical combustion for energy altogether–since all these fuels produce carbon dioxide when burned.

    Global warming is the ONLY reason why we must abandon chemical combustion in favor of some combination of nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, solar, and wind power. And that’s going to cost us. A lot. Because a) the enormous investment in switching, and b) the technological difficulties. (How can an airliner be built that doesn’t use chemical combustion for power?)

  • balconesfault

    b) the technological difficulties. (How can an airliner be built that doesn’t use chemical combustion for power?)

    I assume this is the cue for Carney to step in?

    Chemical combustion of fuels which have been created from carbon currently in our atmosphere is climate-change neutral.

  • nhthinker

    According to the IPCC estimates, the US contribution to total CO2 will be significantly less in 2030 than it is today- Even without cap and trade. But world levels will be rising heavily.

    BUT CALLING CO2 a pollutant means using COAL and NG become LESS viable NOT more VIABLE!!!

    The US will generate less GHG naturally because it is more efficiency gains. 100 mi distance plugin hybrids, many powered by coal and NG power plants, dramatically lower use of OPEC oil but don’t necessarily reduce GHG and CO2 as much as the EPA might demand in the future based on a tenuous and unscientific connection.

    I DON’T TRUST THE EPA.

    The EPA claims that global GHG including CO2 is a national security problem and aim to control US production of CO2. BUT the US will not be a significant contributor to CO2 in 2030 and global CO2 will be much higher than it is today.

    There is no scientific reasoning – no plausible extrapolation to the future in which CO2 above 1990 levels is considered a pollutant and NG becomes and remains a major player.

    I want NG first – CO2 in the US will slowly do down- world production will go up dramatically. There is no useful connection of national security risk from GHG and US production. Since the connection is relatively arbitrary and not based on science and math- I don’t trust the EPA and I’m not the only one: They are making the NGSA skittish.

    The skittishness is SLOWING DOWN transitions to non-OPEC power sources. The EPA is doing some things that are CONTRARY to getting off OPEC oil- the real national security issue.

    China is doomed unless a substitute for coal is found in the next twenty years- Heavy industry will flow back to the US if low cost coal and NG are a significant part of our future.

    sinz54 wants to throwaway this natural energy advantage that the US has over every other major economy on the assumption of the extrapolation of the impact a century from now.

    I disagree,

  • Rabiner

    nhthinker:

    “BUT CALLING CO2 a pollutant means using COAL and NG become LESS viable NOT more VIABLE!!!”

    That’s the idea. Coal and NG and other energy sources have had a free ride by not having their negative externalities taken into account when priced for the public at large.

  • nhthinker

    Rabiner,

    The existing extra CO2 has potentially prevented or delayed the entry into the next ice age.
    Has that been priced in? By who?

    The models of climate have NOT improved in a manner that has narrowed the range of potential impact of doubling of CO2 since the 1970s- the range is still 2 to 4 degrees C.

    I am all for study that leads to better predictions. But those take decades to collect enough data.
    If the impact is only 2 degree C for a doubling, then why would it be critical to reduce US when globally the amount of CO2 is going up greatly abyway (based on IPCC estimates) – Are you for the US military being used to prevent countries from burning CO2 ? If not, the US is really
    not addressing the problem as it will be 20 years from now.

  • djenkins

    sinz54, limits on carbon will actually help encourage the production of domestic bio-fuels and natural gas. Natural gas is cleaner than coal and oil, so it would fair better than other fossil fuels if a price is attached to carbon emissions. If “clean coal” becomes a reality and the carbon emissions can be sequestured, then coal works too, but our coal reserves have been wildly exaggerated. We do have a lot of coal, but much of it is in inaccessible locations where the infrasturcture to get it to market does not exist and would be so costly to put in place that it may never be mined.

    There is a finite supply of fossil fuels and both oil and coal may be nearing their peak production. Companies would not be doing deepwater drilling or tar sands if there was enough easily accessable oil to meet current and near future demand. The cost of diversifying our energy portfolio pales in comparison to the cost of being too reliant on fossil fuels when the supply has peaked and the demand has not. Our economy would drop off a cliff.

    As for Americans of all political stripes agreeing, Redstate is probably not the best place to find conservatives with an open mind. Also, it is not just the message that needs to resonate, the messenger is equally important.

  • nuser

    We are slowly dying from pollution and you want to argue whether climate change stems from that source. Make an earnest effort to rid the earth of pollutants and see what happens. Very few people
    have enough knowledge about climate change , but most people know enough not to defecate in their own drinking water. Climate change is a political football and should not be used as such.
    Nuclear power is not an option, not only because of human errors, but safe disposal and storage of
    waste has not been found.