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Why a climate bill failed

If you wanted to design a threat that our political system couldn't address, here's what you'd do: You'd make the pain of doing nothing come much later, but the pain of doing something begin right now. You'd concentrate the costs of failure in poor countries, while the costs of a policy solution would be concentrated in certain regions of America. You'd make it hard to solve without the imposition of a new tax. You'd make sure that some of the largest and richest industries in the world had an enormous amount to fear from that tax.

Which is all to say, it's no surprise that Congress is collapsing beneath the weight of an energy bill. Climate change, a long-range problem that will primarily harm developing countries and require immediate and difficult policy changes on the part of rich countries that will impose huge costs on particular regions of the United States, is exactly the sort of problem our system can't handle.

And for all that, we got fairly close. The House did pass Waxman-Markey, which wasn't a perfect bill, but would've at least been a serious start. It was in the Senate, where you added the Republicans' preference for paralysis and their ability to filibuster that preference into reality, that it just became impossible.

But the fact that we're not going to solve the problem doesn't mean the problem goes away. Just look at the financial crisis or the BP oil spill for evidence that bad things can happen to inattentive countries. Better hope someone invents a brand-new, low-cost, easily scalable, endlessly renewable, totally sustainable energy source, and quick.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 12:07 PM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Comments

Better hope someone invents a brand-new, low-cost, easily scalable, endlessly renewable, totally sustainable energy source, and quick.

and I want a pony!

Posted by: srw3 | July 23, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,
There is a way to pass a climate bill this year and it is one that the Republicans could accept. Pass a TAX SWAP, wherein a carbon tax is passed with all revenues going to reduce social security and medicare taxes. This revenue neutral tax would give a big boost to job growth (employment is no longer taxed), while raising the price of dirty energy to transform our economy for the future. It is a win-win for our economy and the American people. Why isn't anyone talking about this doable compromise?

Posted by: bvillepo | July 23, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I can has cold fusion?

Seriously, I find the climate change debate really depressing. At least with healthcare there are two opposing viewpoints about how you can achieve cheaper, lower-cost care. Conservatives think you the government further out of the market and liberals think there's room for more, or at least different, of a role for government in the market, whether that means regulations, a public option, or whatever.

With climate change, so many conservatives refuse to even acknowledge the problem, even though there are a million reasons why people of every political stripe should support doing *something*. If you don't find climate science convincing, then I'd think that you'd at least be able to sign on for energy independence, avoiding peak oil, building a green jobs sector, or updating our aging infrastructure to better compete in the future economy. But no, it's all East Anglia triumphalism nonsense and armchair science.

It's very depressing.

Posted by: MosBen | July 23, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"bad things can happen to inattentive countries"

Delete "can" and "inattentive".

Posted by: ostap666 | July 23, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

bvillepo, I've been mulling a similar tax swap proposal, though mine involves reducing the corporate tax rate and closing corporate tax loopholes that allow companies to avoid paying taxes.

But you're right, I don't know why something like this isn't talked about more. Even though I think cap & trade is a good (and originally conservative) idea, at least with some kind of tax swap proposal the Dems could beat Republicans over the head with refusing to cooperate on tax reductions if they opposed it.

Posted by: MosBen | July 23, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Climate change was always going to be a tough sell because it asks Americans to reorganize their lives and the economy just because some scientists with complex models said they should. The evidence is just too amorphous for the average person to justify such a large societal shift, and liberals don't do a good job of recognizing that.

But you know what is not amorphous? The US Military saying that oil shortages will begin in 2015. And they will end approximately.....never. Thats because world oil production is collapsing. Maybe the Washington Post would be interested in covering this story? Maybe saving our civilization from peak oil is something liberals and conservatives could band together on? Or maybe we will keep tilting at the climate change windmills while we sleepwalk into peak oil just like we did the Iraq War and the Financial Crisis. Earth to environmentalists: peak oil will solve your climate change problem for you!

To be honest, I am glad the "climate change" bill is dead. Now we can start to build a "Renewable Energy and Peak Oil Response Bill". Of course the two bills would look remarkably similar, but only one has a chance of passing because it addresses the impending crisis that people can actually wrap their mind around.

Posted by: nathanlindquist | July 23, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Yes, some of the bad things will happen in underdeveloped countries, but have you looked at maps of the Florida and Gulf coastlines when the sea level rises? Even the East Coast? And parts of the Bay Area? Phoenix already has temps of 110 several days a year and has hit 122, and Oklahoma has hit 120. That interior part of the US already has some of the most extreme weather in the world (tornadoes, floods). Plus there is flooding on the Mississippi and its tributaries. Drought in the Southwest and Southeast. Crop failures and rotations. Decline in fisheries.

Don't think it's going to be so easy here.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 23, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

To be honest, the BP disaster probably killed the chances for climate change legislation. Back when it looked like there would be Republicans on board, the bills included offshore drilling expansions along with the carbon tax (were being sold in no small part as 'energy independence'). Now the only chip the Dems had to offer to the Repubs has turned toxic. Now climate change has to find a new alliance, and couple itself to some other reasonably popular cause (energy independence, protecting our manufacturing sector, job growth, etc.).

It also hasn't helped that gas prices have been stable and reasonable so far this year.

PS: and the SS/Medicare payment concept sounds like a pretty good implementation of a carbon tax + rebate. but to be successful, it can not ignore import/export issues.

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 23, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

@MosBen: "Conservatives think you the government further out of the market and liberals think there's room for more, or at least different, of a role for government in the market"

I'm not sure conservatives have a coherent plan. The argument is generally that prices are distorted by interference in the market by government and (it cannot be ignored) insurance companies. The problem with prices has to do with 3rd party payers, and you can argue that government involvement will make it worse, but no one is arguing to some how get rid of the 3rd party payer scheme entirely. So insurance companies will continue to distort the market. And I don't know that there's a good answer for that.

In the case of climate change, the argument is pretty much that anthropogenic global warming is an imaginary concern being used to expand government power and increase taxes. That modern day environmentalism is the new home of Communism, and that it has very little to do with the environment at all.

I agree that we should be able to sign on to the pursuit of energy independent and alternate energy. There are all sorts of advantages to making it easier to store, transport, and generate electricity, for example.

Even that will be tough. My wife hates our new energy efficient washer because it doesn't work like the old washer, doesn't behave like the old washer, etc. And it could be designed better. But, just a tangent: alternative energy requires not only developing innovative ways of saving energy and increasing efficiencies, but encouraging adoption. By people who generally don't like too much change. "What's this dang curly-q light bulb?"

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 23, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

One reason people don't support action on climate change is that they have been led to believe they have to "reorganize their lives." That is not necessarily true. There is a great deal of savings in energy and emissions (and money) from conservation. You all in the Midwest aqnd South put down CA, but we have greatly reduced both pollution and energy usage through increasing vehicle mileage and clean fuels way before the Feds, regulation of all kinds of stationary sources, requiring energy-efficient appliances and non-polluting architectural coatings, moving toward solar and wind, to the point where we are one of the very lowest CO2 emitting states despite a large petroleum and chemical industries. And it didn't really change anyone's lifestyle or pocketbook that much. We have a long way to go, but at least wer are moving in the right direction and have gopt the Northeeast and Nprthwest to follow us.

Meanwhile Europe will develop fusion and China will eat our lunch in green tech because we have so many macho, ignorant boasters and deniers who don't give a damn about anyone but themselves.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 23, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Climate bill failed because we are only slowly moving out of the Reagan era into the Obama era (these cycles take a long time). Same reason why in 20 years when we have some Republican President we will be passing more liberal bills than the times would necessarily explain because we will still be in the Obama era.

Posted by: michaelh81 | July 23, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Here's a very nifty map that shows where each state ranks on emissions per capita.

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/10/emissions_interactive.html

The top 10 states except (I think) for Idaho all have strong state and/or local regulatory programs, and if you compare this to the per capita income and standard of living, you will see it hasn't bankrupted any of us.

The problems are in the same set of interior and southern states that show up on other kinds of graphic maps.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 23, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

But the problem DOES go away! It goes away to that most convenient depository of all politically inconvenient issues - the future.

Posted by: Rockfish66 | July 23, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, the blame lies 100% with the Republican leadership. You can chalk it up to the nature of the problem, but it wasn't regionalism that killed the bill, nor the distance of global warming's consequences - at the end of the day, we had over 50 votes for the bill, and yet not a single Republican, even Republicans who had supported climate change legislation in the past, even the Republican who WROTE THE BILL, would support it. Even if global warming was going to destroy America tomorrow, the Republicans still would have voted against it, due to (1) the ideological insanity of their base which would have punished any Republican who voted for the bill, and (2) the leadership's overriding goal of making Obama fail.

Posted by: akent07 | July 23, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Thankfully we also have the Clean Air Act and a highly competent agency organized around dreaded command-and-control principles that is currently under a binding legal obligation to move forward on climate change no matter WHAT

I get that this needs to be the end for comprehensive energy legislation. Frankly, I'm still surprised they let it limp along for so long -- this script was written the minute Chuck Grassley pulled his Lucy move on healthcare. But there's still time to shore up EPA's authority to tailor its standards (and maybe even set up tradeable schemes of its own). There are also a ton of other important legislative things that need to be done which touch on this issue -- not least of which is the reauthorization of the federal transportation act, which could obviously made much more transit/bike/hybrid friendly.

And there are a lot of other marginal emission-reducing things you could do under stimulus theory too. Give states money to decommission or rehab old coal power plants (maybe coupled with a temporary waiver of certain CAA or NEPA requirements). Extend nuclear subsidies. Give out grants for upgrading power transmission lines so that alternative energy sources can be pooled. Shore up and extend the ultra-low emission vehicle credit. Give states and large fleet owners grants to convert their fleets to all hybrids.

The death of the (already lobotomized) American Power Act won't stop climate change from happening. So it shouldn't stop Congress from acting. There's still a lot of time till November and I guarantee you a lot of stupid, minor bills will still get through the Senate. There should be at least some climate-impacting language in as many as possible.

Posted by: NS12345 | July 23, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The small state bias in the Senate gives disproportionate power to the very demographic that drives the most and has virtually no alternatives to a high carbon footprint - rural americans.

So it is no surprise that a half decent climate bill could pass in House but went nowhere in the Senate. That will not change unless there are massive subsidies to offset carbon taxes for rural Americans. As if Ag subsidies were not enough.

We are ruled by rural socialists.

Posted by: BobFred | July 23, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Or maybe it failed because it's a bad idea. Don't ignore the obvious.

Posted by: JPM16 | July 23, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

And please stop this "energy independence" and "dangerous dependence on foreign oil" nonsense. The US imports 22% of its oil from Canada, followed by South and Central American then the Middle East. The Middle East supplies us with less than 15% of our oil imports and less than 10% of our consumption. Given that oil supplies less than 40% of our total energy needs, "dangerous" middle East oil is less than 5% of our consumption.

We use oil, gas, coal for very good reasons: They are cheap and effective. Nothing else comes close.

Posted by: JPM16 | July 23, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

JPM16: Oil, gas and coal are "cheap" because they are mature technologies, receive heavy government subsidies (direct and indirect like our presence in the ME) and the bulk of the costs (pollution) are borne by the public instead of the private sector.

Take all that away and let's see how competitive they are with solar, wind, hydro, etc.

Posted by: lol-lol | July 23, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Time and again when the political system fails us, plaintiffs' lawyers step up to the plate. In Iraq, when the Bush Administration refused to regulate private contractors, plaintiffs' lawyers like Alan Grayson filled the gap. With tobacco, private industry prevented regulation by the political branches, so plaintiffs' lawyers came up with novel tort theories to regulate industry.

The same can be done with climate change: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/us/27alaska.html?_r=1&oref=slogin. The case is on appeal. Let's hope the Ninth Circuit steps up where Congress chose to stand down.

Posted by: jackie_chiles | July 23, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you make the assumption that climate change is "hard to solve without the imposition of a new tax." That is only true in the deep recesses of a liberal mind. Every problem requires more government regulation and more taxes. If liberals really truly believed that CO2 emissions were going to destroy the world, they would give tax and loan incentives to energy companies to switch from coal to natural gas and to build more nuclear power plants. If they did that, CO2 emissions from the US could be cut in half in 10 years. But liberals would never do that because the real issue for them is not climate change, it is an opportunity to sneak in bigger government, controlled by their beloved Democratic party.

Posted by: cummije5 | July 23, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The Climate Bill (cap & tax) failed because it was bad legislation. Finally some of the Democrats stepped forward to slow Omama's agenda! Now the Dems in the House that voted for this bill are ticked off....they will have to answer to voters as to why they took the bait!

http://eclecticramblings.wordpress.com

Posted by: my4653 | July 23, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

What's happening with this Charles Rangel thing? And this JournoList thing?

Charles Rangel and JournoList -- is there any connection between the two? Did any JournoList member profit from the "liberal experience" they shared?

Posted by: rmgregory | July 23, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"Better hope someone invents a brand-new, low-cost, easily scalable, endlessly renewable, totally sustainable energy source, and quick"

Best bet is Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector solar thermal generation. Mirrors, plumbing, steam turbines. No rare materials, scales up just fine, potentially cheap with mass production.

Actually, that's second-best: best option is conservation, by investing in insulation, draftproofing, CFLs, and high-efficiency appliances.

But really all the technology we need already exists. It's just that the fossil-fuel lobby is incredibly powerful, to the point that we continue to spend billions of dollars to subsidize it, even though we know it's trashing the climate.

Posted by: richardcownie | July 23, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

There is still debate on this subject, in spite of what people say. We know that man contributes to global warming, but we don't know how much is man made and how much is due to natural climate cycles. On a cost-benefit basis, it's not clear that taking extreme action to curb the man-made portion of global warming will affect the earth's climate and the natural cycles which we still don't fully understand.

Throw in the e-mail leaks from last year from the "Climategate" scandal, and the e-mail leaks from "Journolist", of which Ezra Klein is a proud member, and it casts doubt on a great deal of what has been said about global warming and what we should do about it.

Posted by: JCONRAD | July 23, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The beauty of the Senate is it forces the Democrats to seek compromise. Unlike the House where they can Rahm through legislation, the Senate can work out the kinks and make it palatable to a majority of the country, if allowed to do so.

As proven by health care, financial reform, and porkulus, the Democrats only care about doing things their way and are unwilling to compromise. Because of that, they have passed bills that the American people don't want and they're going to pay at the polls this November.

Until climate science is removed from the political realm back into the scientific realm, there should be no legislation on this matter. Hopefully, with a Republican COngress, we can have some meaningful hearings where people like Michael Mann can actually have some hard questions put to them and we can get to the truth of the science. Right now I don't know how anyone, without an agenda, can possibly believe the science behind global warming.

Posted by: bflat879 | July 23, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The climategate and Journolist email things remind me of the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman think Jerry's accountmant is a coke addict,

so they take a picture of him taking a dump and pretend it's evidence for their case.

Newsflash for conservatives:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/192913214X/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0916291456&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=17E08G45V8H70ERKF5C8

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 23, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Right now I don't know how anyone, without an agenda, can refuse to accept global warming. It's real, and it's happening.

The scientific community has been studying this for decades. It's about as debatable as whether Obama was born in the U.S. or not. Interestingly enough, the anti-global warming comments tend to read very much like the birther comments - lots of stuff about "the dabate," and the lack of evidence, and the need for tough questions, etc. Al Gore could be exposed tomorrow as an alien and it wouldn't make a shred of difference about the reality that is global warming.

Posted by: simpleton1 | July 23, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

The climategate and Journolist email things remind me of the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman think Jerry's accountmant is a coke addict,

so they take a picture of him taking a dump and pretend it's evidence for their case.

Posted by: eggnogfool | July 23, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

"Right now I don't know how anyone, without an agenda, can refuse to accept global warming."

Probably because it's been exposed as a fraud.

"The scientific community has been studying this for decades."

With only those who agree allowed to publish. And don't forget three decades ago they were waiting for the next Ice Age.

"It's about as debatable as whether Obama was born in the U.S. or not."

Interesting analogy.

"Al Gore could be exposed tomorrow as an alien and it wouldn't make a shred of difference about the reality that is global warming."

He has been exposed as a fraud and someone who paws other women, but I think he was at least born on Earth.

Posted by: AZPhil | July 23, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

We'd better also hope that (along with much more forceful and direct leadership by President Obama) Republicans who in the past have supported caps and cuts in greenhouse gas emissions show a little integrity.

Then, there's also the problem that the chattering classes don't really seem to care much about this problem. Is it because so many spend most of their lives in an air-conditioned cocoon?

Posted by: bdlieberman | July 23, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"Why a climate bill failed"

Nonsense.
Climate bill has not failed. It is just safely put on the back-burner for the election. The lame duck congress will pass it. It will actually pass a cap-and-trade. And it will pass "Cyber Security", and a 'public-option' amendment to Obamacare, and half a dozen other such dirty bills.

Ezra sounds like he is in a hurry to cover-up the real armageddon that is obviously coming. Too much Jurnolist inertia.

Posted by: SECREV | July 23, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Climate change has not been exposed as a fraud. It is a scientific consensus. The climate is warming, the glaciers are melting, and we have more extreme weather. Insurance companies believe it, the Pentagon believes it, most utility companies believe it.

Whjy are coal and oil cheap? Subsidies--simiple. That, and the fact that the infrastructure already exists, and the costs of pollution is spread throughout society rathyer than being factored into the price.

How's the weather down there in AZ, Phil? Hot enough for you yet? Go back and check what the population of AZ was before air condition and cheap, federally subsidized water and power. The high temp (128 F) may have been recorded in 1994, but I'd be willing to bet that we will see it again in the next 10 years.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 23, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

No, AZPhil, Global warming hasn't been been "exposed as a fraud". Just because you heard it on Fox News doesn't make it so.

Posted by: PeterH1 | July 23, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"No, AZPhil, Global warming hasn't been been "exposed as a fraud". Just because you heard it on Fox News doesn't make it so."

I didn't hear it on Fox. I read about it in the London Telegraph, plus on Drudge, msn.com, and several other sources. CNN covered it up for a while before relenting, though.

Posted by: AZPhil | July 23, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"Climate change has not been exposed as a fraud. It is a scientific consensus."

Yes; the disciples in the echo chamber review each other's papers and confirm it all the time. They make up little graphs and delete real data and give each other awards, too. I hear it's nifty.

"The climate is warming, the glaciers are melting, and we have more extreme weather."

yep, and that has never happened before in history. Oh wait.

"How's the weather down there in AZ, Phil? Hot enough for you yet?"

Pretty good. Cooler than normal summer.
Winter was above-average rainfall, which helped the reservoirs. Thanks for asking.

Posted by: AZPhil | July 23, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Dante's 'special place in hell' awaits this generation for our selfishness, our ignorance and our failure to try to address this issue. Abandon hope. If you're thinking of having children, don't do it...for their sake.

Our generation will be reviled by our descendants for the parade of horrors we locked them into. My first child is due in three weeks. I am sickened by this news today. We're a bunch of selfish jack holes. Honestly. And the worst jack hole is a Republican jack hole.

Obama, I elected you to get this done. I donated and I campaigned. I understand it was uphill, but you needed to lead. The House did their part, you and the Senate didn't.

Senators Kerry and Lieberman: Thank you for trying.

Senator Graham: go to hell.

Posted by: sdavis3398 | July 23, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Man, conservatives are going to cling to this Climate Gate nonsense until we've long since moved on to Zmail or whatever future technology we use to communicate. There's no there there. Let it go. The emails don't show wrongdoing, and it isn't the sum total basis for the scientific consensus anyhow.

Posted by: MosBen | July 23, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Well put, Mimikatz.

AZPhil, you make lots of points that are interesting in and of themselves but not really relevant to the underlying issue. Of course the earth has warmed and cooled throughout its history. There was a period 40 million years ago or so when it was so warm there was no ice anywhere on the planet; obviously people had nothing to do with that. And obviously people had nothing to do with the end of the last Ice Age. And so on. But using those events to argue that man-made global warming is not happening now is like arguing that arson is impossible because fire has naturally existed since the dawn of time. It's a non sequitur. The problem isn't that the earth has natural cycles of warming and cooling; the problem is that we're messing up that cycle. Since our civilization depends on a very specific set of climates and weather patterns, altering that set could do massive, irreparable harm. The earth will eventually reset, but the earth operates on a much longer time scale than we do. Neither you nor I can afford to wait 10,000 years for the planet to return to "normal."

Posted by: simpleton1 | July 23, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Even better put, simpleton1.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 23, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Simpleton,

Since you are polite, I will return the favor. Let's stipulate that everything you say is 100% correct and we are all about to die.

What do you suggest? Because liberals block EVERY meaningful idea the rest of us have.

How about wind farms? NO. Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

How about solar panels? NO. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Google Feinstein Mojave if you don't believe me.

How about nuclear power? NO. every liberal since they saw that Jane Fonda movie 30 years ago.

Are dams okay? NO, according to various environmental groups.

I'm not trying to be snarky here, but we need to generate energy somehow. There is no perpetual motion machine invented yet, but from the examples above, I'm not sure libs want ANY form of energy...except for their own limos and jets, of course.

Posted by: AZPhil | July 23, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

You know what? I am an independent voter who leans Conservative and has typically voted Republican. However, I am disgusted that the Republican party (and most Democrats) have totally ignored the energy problem for 40+ years. I frankly am NOT convinced that the science behind Climate change has been gathered and analyzed in an ubiased way. Is it happening? Yes - BUT - the "science" that ties it to greenhouse gases and being man made change are FAR from irrefutable (look at the Global Warming that occurred in the Middle Ages right before the little ice age - and was pre-industrial). Certainly enough so that most people are not conviced. Thus - using Global Warming as the argument to advance an energy policy is a NON STARTER in the US.

That doesn't mean we don't have a major problem though. The more I look at "Peak Oil" the more convinced that we're nearing a collapse of our economy driven by enormous debt from wars, bailouts, and now Obamacare. All it will take to topple us? Oil prices surging to $200 $300 or $400 per barrel. EVERYTHING we do depends on oil - food delivery to local stores, commuting to work, synthetic clothing delivered from China, electricity . . . you name it. It ALL depends on cheap petrol. We're headed for a HUGE fall and nobody is aware. Where is the press? Where are the movements demanding that the Gov't begin to mobilize to prevent massive chaos when people are starving because they can't afford to eat or no food is being delivered to the local stores?

Alternative energy? Solar (how do you thin you get the panels, the batteries, etc.). Wind? Same - who's making turbines? Ethanol or bio diesel - not happening.

THIS is an argument that can ignite EVERYONE - conservative OR liberal because we're ALL in the same boat and there really is no good argument against this. Of course - politicians in the Oil Company pockets (yes - even dear Saintly Obama) will ignore this issue.

Better start planning your hideaway stocked with food, guns, etc now. It's going to get ugly.

Posted by: edgerunner | July 23, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I've heard rumors about arresting these fear mongering criminal scientists, just as we arrest alter boy abusing priests for abusing their positions of trust.
Climate change is dividing environmentalism and your continued support of this CO2 mistake will be a part of the history books. I suggest you all get ahead of the curve because pollution is one thing, but CO2 threatening life on Earth was wrong, a mistake and if anything, a criminal exaggeration.
We can stop being such climate cowards and scaring our kids and be responsible environmentalists, for our children's sake at least. Lets face the future with courage, not fear. We love the planet and we love all humanity on the planet, even the right wingers. :)
Climate change is it appears, our Iraq War of WMDs.

Posted by: paulmerrifield | July 23, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

"That doesn't mean we don't have a major problem though. The more I look at "Peak Oil" the more convinced that we're nearing a collapse of our economy driven by enormous debt from wars, bailouts, and now Obamacare. All it will take to topple us? Oil prices surging to $200 $300 or $400 per barrel."

I definitely agree with you 100% BUT Peak Oil and Climate Change are two wholly different issues. Unfortunately, they are often mixed.

What if the U.S. reduced our oil use by 95% through some combination of nuclear, coal, natural gas, wind, solar, and hydrothermal. Right then and there, the Peak Oil problem is solved.

But the climate fearmongers want to take it a step further. In their world, we can't use OUR OWN coal because of their fantasy of global warming (which has occurred before without negative consequences - see the Vikings).

But yes, having a trade imbalance on top of putting all our eggs in one basket (oil) is a bad idea strategically.

Before the left starts making the right synonymous with "Big Oil", here are some facts to gnaw on:

2006 Alaska gubernatorial election:

Oil and gas contributions to Tony Knowles (D): $25,500

Oil and gas contributions to Sarah Palin(R): $15,500

2008 Presidential election:

Oil and gas contributions to Obama(D): $900,000

Oil and gas contributions to McCain(R): $2,400,000

BP contributions to Obama(D): $71,051*

BP contributions to McCain(R): $36,649

*ranks him the #1 recipient of 2008

Posted by: AZPhil | July 23, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

AZPhil,

I'm sure you see what you're doing there. You're taking a few isolated points of contention and using them to tar all liberals on the issue. That's not fair, any more than it would be fair of me to judge you based on paulmerrifield's 5:25pm demand that climate scientists be treated like pedophile priests (if I understand him correctly).

The GOP's energy policy is "drill, baby, drill." But we need to get off our addiction to oil. Expanding drilling simply postpones the day of reckoning and makes it harder on us when it comes. Remember how even a small increase in the price of gas the other year left Detroit caught with its pants down?

We've got to not only develop, but own, the alternative energy market. That means wind, solar, whatever. Safe nuclear? Sure, I guess. Government subsidies and incentives up the wahoo. Gas taxes. Wind power is booming - even Michigan is trying to position itself as a leader. The Martha's Vineyard people who don't want their views upset can go F themselves. Solar is ba great option, especially out west, but again that doesn't mean just set it up anywhere. I happen to like the Mojave Desert. If every building in the Southwest had solar panels on their roofs, we'd be golden.

There's never been a free market on this stuff. We have massive highways full of giant gas-guzzling cars that shuttle fat people from one sprawling suburb to another precisely because government policies encourage growth that way.

Posted by: simpleton1 | July 23, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

"The GOP's energy policy is "drill, baby, drill." But we need to get off our addiction to oil. "

I agree. I think my other post came out after you sent this.

It doesn't change the fact that, isolated incidents or not, all of the above examples have succeeded in blocking new energy sources. 19 separate companies wanted to build a solar plant on part of a HALF MILLION acres in the Mojave, and Feinstein successfully stopped it. Ted stopped the wind farms off Nantucket (or wherever). There are no new nuclear plants. You can point to these cases as isolated, but look at the results.

Posted by: AZPhil | July 23, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, this is a very wise post. Alas, the fault lies more with our natures than with the obstructive behaviors of the Republicans.

Two points of my own. From my studies of Administrative Law, I suspect that our best best is for the EPA to regulate carbon. It sounds like they legally can. And once an agency gets its foot in the door, watch out - it's easier to challenge or to change a law than it is to challenge or change regulations.

Second, B. F. Skinner predicted this dilemma, and it caused him much grief towards the end of his life. The dilemma: the short term always outweighs the long term in human behavior. The reinforcers are much stronger.

Posted by: scifiknitter | July 23, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Read Ayn Rand's opinion of B S, er, Skinner.

Posted by: paulmerrifield | July 23, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

"Climate change, a long-range problem that will primarily harm developing countries..."

Or, not. Remember acid rain and the hole in the ozone? Let's talk about this in five years.

Posted by: BigMac4 | July 24, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

"Climate change, a long-range problem that will primarily harm developing countries..."

Or, not. Remember acid rain and the hole in the ozone? Let's talk about this in five years.

Posted by: BigMac4 | July 24, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Ezra:Why don't you cry to your journolist commrads. Maybe you can pick some unsuspecting conservative and falsely accuse him of being a racist so that the climate bill farse can be passed while no one is looking. Do us all a favor and resign. You are a fraud and have no credibility to comment on anything you hack

Posted by: mbrewer2 | July 24, 2010 2:14 AM | Report abuse

The climate bill failed because of the US Senates inability to understand the risks we face.

Short term political gain or preservation trumps long term solutions that a few years down the road will begin to haunt us more then the freaky extreme weather we are beginning to suffer; unrelenting heat waves, blizzards, torrential rains and floods, tornado's in New England.

When these weather patterns begin to truly disrupt this culture- perhaps the worthless, outdated US Senate will wake up from its 100 year old sleep.

Posted by: sleepership | July 24, 2010 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Erza'a editorial is half it's usual length. His nasty little group think supporters must not have been able to contribute.

Maybe he could not even decide who to call a racist this week without random selections from his friends. It must be hard to write without the support of your fellow prigs.

Very hard.

Posted by: TECWRITE | July 24, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"If you wanted to design a threat that our political system couldn't address, here's what you'd do: You'd make the pain of doing nothing come much later, but the pain of doing something begin right now."


Well said. That not only applies to global warming, it also explains the "scorched earth" economic policies of the Obama administration and Congress- prop up the economy today even though it means a collapse of the US Government down the road.

Posted by: bot_feeder | July 24, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

"If you wanted to design a threat that our political system couldn't address, here's what you'd do: You'd make the pain of doing nothing come much later, but the pain of doing something begin right now."


Well said. That not only applies to global warming, it also explains the "scorched earth" economic policies of the Obama administration and Congress- prop up the economy today even though it means a collapse of the US Government down the road.

Posted by: bot_feeder | July 24, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Global warmists and jounolisters are just a fraternity of white frat boys trying to push their leftist agenda by "unofficially campaigning" for a bunch of lies and untruths concocted in "secret" echo chambers.

Gig is up. The stupidity of claiming you're either a racist or a planet destroyer simply by breathing has been rendered ineffective. Thank you, it's about time.


Posted by: gaphound | July 24, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Thanx Ezra, you have succinctly described what representation for sale wroughts. What you've also offered is a perfect storm of realities which exposes the intellecual deficit of our representatives as opposed to our leaders. Barack and scary Harry will be required to defang the Repugs in the Senate with a few rules changes regarding "will of the people busters" and immediate punishment for any "Dem's in Name Only" who dare to oppose such Repug neutering.The climate change bill and it's removal from the Congressional agenda, for this year, kicks the can down the road to ruin ecologically and economically, all in the name of why bi-partisanship. All of this political chicanery is occurring with BP's folly as a backdrop, another graphic example of intellectual ineptitude, and shortsighted political decision making. Please Americans of voting age, don't continue the contagious mistake of habitual support for representatives who act in a manner which damage your and your futures interest.

Posted by: freesmilesinc | July 24, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanx Ezra, you have succinctly described what representation for sale wroughts. What you've also offered is a perfect storm of realities which exposes the intellecual deficit of our representatives as opposed to our leaders. Barack and scary Harry will be required to defang the Repugs in the Senate with a few rules changes regarding "will of the people busters" and immediate punishment for any "Dem's in Name Only" who dare to oppose such Repug neutering.The climate change bill and it's removal from the Congressional agenda, for this year, kicks the can down the road to ruin ecologically and economically, all in the name of "what bi-partisanship?". All of this political chicanery is occurring with BP's folly and an international heat-wave as a backdrop, another graphic and deadly example of intellectual ineptitude, and shortsighted political decision making. Please Americans of voting age, don't continue the contagious mistake of habitual support for representatives and wannabes who either act or propose to act in a manner which damage your and your future hier's interest and very lives. There are few issues, except terrorism, nukes and the political aspirations of the right wingnuts and Tea Partist which threaten the world and all of it's inhabitants. There are no "do overs' with this one.

Posted by: freesmilesinc | July 24, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanx Ezra, you have succinctly described what representation for sale wroughts. What you've also offered is a perfect storm of realities which exposes the intellecual deficit of our representatives as opposed to our leaders. Barack and scary Harry will be required to defang the Repugs in the Senate with a few rules changes regarding "will of the people busters" and immediate punishment for any "Dem's in Name Only" who dare to oppose such Repug neutering.The climate change bill and it's removal from the Congressional agenda, for this year, kicks the can down the road to ruin ecologically and economically, all in the name of "what bi-partisanship?". All of this political chicanery is occurring with BP's folly and an international heat-wave as a backdrop, another graphic and deadly example of intellectual ineptitude, and shortsighted political decision making. Please Americans of voting age, don't continue the contagious mistake of habitual support for representatives and wannabes who either act or propose to act in a manner which damage your and your future hier's interest and very lives. There are few issues, except terrorism, nukes and the political aspirations of the right wingnuts and Tea Partist which threaten the world and all of it's inhabitants. There are no "do overs" with this one.

Posted by: freesmilesinc | July 24, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Enough, a book by John Bogle, highlights the need for professional journalism. Sorry to say that Ezra Kline lacks professionalism. This article does not have an iota of well founded thought. It sounds like a made up story by the leader of the gang--the liberal gang that supports jurno even though it is proven false. There is no need to tax the American people into oblivion to save the world from global warming. It is what the gang fabricated as a wedge against the majority in order to have control. No facts, only urban legend created by fenatics intent on forcing their will onto the masses. What a game, what a high, what a scam! They remind me of the Hitler youth. Determined to build a new order ruled by jurno liberal minority in cahouts with Obamanites. A colusion of incompentence and no professionals. A group pretending to have standards. Standards created for their advancement without regard to accepted rules of analysis and rational thought. For they are not trained scientist, who would know that the climate is not ruled by a single parameter with only a small and not well understood effect, but politicians who have forsaken professional journalism for power.

Posted by: cmvairin | July 24, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Enough, a book by John Bogle, highlights the need for professional journalism. Sorry to say that Ezra Kline lacks professionalism. This article does not have an iota of well founded thought. It sounds like a made up story by the leader of the gang--the liberal gang that supports jurno even though it is proven false. There is no need to tax the American people into oblivion to save the world from global warming. It is what the gang fabricated as a wedge against the majority in order to have control. No facts, only urban legend created by fanatics intent on forcing their will onto the masses. What a game, what a high, what a scam! They remind me of the Hitler youth. Determined to build a new order ruled by jurno liberal minority in cahouts with Obamanites. A colusion of incompentence and no professionals. A group pretending to have standards. Standards created for their advancement without regard to accepted rules of analysis and rational thought. For they are not trained scientist, who would know that the climate is not ruled by a single parameter with only a small and not well understood effect, but politicians who have forsaken professional journalism for power.

Posted by: cmvairin | July 24, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Enough, a book by John Bogle, highlights the need for professional journalism. Sorry to say that Ezra Kline lacks professionalism. This article does not have an iota of well founded thought. It sounds like a made up story by the leader of the gang--the liberal gang that supports jurno even though it is proven false. There is no need to tax the American people into oblivion to save the world from global warming. It is what the gang fabricated as a wedge against the majority in order to have control. No facts, only urban legend created by fanatics intent on forcing their will onto the masses. What a game, what a high, what a scam! They remind me of the Hitler youth. Determined to build a new order ruled by jurno liberal minority in cahoots with Obamanites. A collusion of incompetence and no professionals. A group pretending to have standards. Standards created for their advancement without regard to accepted rules of analysis and rational thought. For they are not trained scientist, who would know that the climate is not ruled by a single parameter with only a small and not well understood effect, but politicians who have forsaken professional journalism for power.

Posted by: cmvairin | July 24, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

First, all this climate baloney, cap and trade is a progressive way to force the US NOT to use our own huge amount of natural resources, oil, coal, natural gas and the safe building of nuclear plants.Second, Reid and the Dems are progressive socialists in kow towing to leftist nutter enviros who want us to go back to the time of ...Third, why would anyone believe you Klein. You are a part of the biased anti-capitalist cabal with the Journos who hate America, conservatism, Christianity and just for fun, The GOP. Frankly, you are a young snarkier version of His Highness whose love you so crave.

Posted by: phillyfanatic | July 24, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you sound so bummed that your Journolist conspiracy to socialize American energy failed.

Just FYI, you are the ones hoping for a miraculous new energy source. Your carbon tax is meant to force scientists to find it. Unfortunately it doesn't exist.

Oil is your miracle, right up there with penicillin and the light bulb. You are insane to hate oil. Oh, that's right, you hate light bulbs too. Waiting to hear your next Chicken Little story on the evils of antibiotics. Better get on it now and post to Journolist for some brainstorming suggestions.

Black is white, up is down, dissent is patriotism, and good is evil with you Libs. You call it sophistication. Riiiiight.

Posted by: legalize | July 24, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

The benefits our eco-system will receive from using less oil have always been debatable, while the benefits our nations economy receives from such is well recognized. Why aren't we again being asked to make sacrifice and purchase more fuel efficient vehicles? Do they feel we won't respond to the call? Do they feel that we're selfish? We're recognized to have been so at times when we can afford to be. Should we be told that this isn't one of those times? Why was our nation named the United States? How much economic growth would our nations economy recognize from united citizens purchasing fuel efficient vehicles? How does our economic future look if we fail to unite our citizens to participate in economic recovery.

Posted by: reenie10 | July 24, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

So we must have faith in their judgment as peer reviewed professionals? That's religion and delusional religion because there is plenty of debate out there. And isn’t it a little silly to still argue that GWing is real this late in game? There is no reason to have faith in the end of the world from what clearly looks like bad, unprofessional and political science that was hyped by an equally irresponsible media. Try being a denier because it doesn’t mean we stop addressing pollution, only the CO2 mistake. Get ahead of the curve and be a responsible environmentalist and climate change denier.
We as deniers WERE all believers and if you just made the time to see for yourself that there is good news of no climate crisis, it would be worth it and make you happier and a better person who can spread optimism and courage to our children. It’s all good. There is enough debate out there to explain the absence of the predicted crisis.
Life is good

Posted by: paulmerrifield | July 24, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

So we must have faith in their judgment as peer reviewed professionals? That's religion and delusional religion because there is plenty of debate out there. And isn’t it a little silly to still argue that GWing is real this late in game? There is no reason to have faith in the end of the world from what clearly looks like bad, unprofessional and political science that was hyped by an equally irresponsible media. Try being a denier because it doesn’t mean we stop addressing pollution, only the CO2 mistake. Get ahead of the curve and be a responsible environmentalist and climate change denier.
We as deniers WERE all believers and if you just made the time to see for yourself that there is good news of no climate crisis, it would be worth it and make you happier and a better person who can spread optimism and courage to our children. It’s all good. There is enough debate out there to explain the absence of the predicted crisis.
Life is good

Posted by: paulmerrifield | July 24, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

The warmists just cannot conceive of the possibility that the uncertainties of the climate science make it reasonable policy to consider more options than crippling our economy. If every single radical recommendation for reducing CO2 emissions in the US were implemented in 2011, it would make little or no difference.

The growth in the Chinese and other third world countries will far outstrip any conceivable reductions here. Even given that the science is settled, which it is not, the only reasonable policy is to plan to adapt to climate change as it occurs.

In spite of all the dire predictions about the sea level, the average rise is about 3 millimeters per year. That means 333 years to make a meter which is about 39 inches. Plenty of time for Al Gore to put some stilts under his new beach side mansion.

In spite of the dire predictions about melting ice, there is more than enough new ice at the South Pole to offset the reduction at the north pole. The real crisis is that the people expecting to get rich on cap and trade are seeing their gravy train fade away.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | July 25, 2010 1:43 AM | Report abuse

Cap and Trade is a fraud.

If all the oil the world uses each year (27 billion barrels) were put into a single volume, it would amount to only 1.03 cubic miles. If this amount of oil were spread over the entire Earth, how thick would it be? Well, print this out. It would take 12 years worth of the world's oil consumption to be as thick as a single sheet of copier paper. That sheet of paper would only be 0.004 inches thick. Now imagine burning that thin layer of oil, 12 years worth in a single day. Would you even notice it an hour later? Consider that above that sheet of paper is 1375 pounds of air. While 12 years worth of oil spread equally would weigh about two tenth's of an ounce. In other words, the air out weighs the oil by a factor of 106,000 to 1. Remember this is 12 years worth of oil consumed by the entire world. For a single year, the ratio of oil burned to the atmosphere it goes into is 1.27 MILLION to 1.

Posted by: FarmerBob2 | July 25, 2010 5:27 AM | Report abuse

Y2Koyoto

Posted by: paulmerrifield | July 25, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Creating an ideology pegged to carbon dioxide is a dangerous nonsense…The present alarm on climate change is an instrument of social control, a pretext for major businesses and political battle. It became an ideology, which is concerning. CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another….Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so…

"What failed at Copenhagen was not just the summit. A notion of establishing the UN as a sort of world government through the use of climate politics -- using far-reaching management methods to influence, first of all, the world's economy -- has also failed."
(Die Welt -german news paper -Refering to EU President)

No Thanks.

Posted by: deridemender | July 25, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Zero integrity Journolist Klein. Zero.

Your profession requires intellectual honesty, of which you have demonstrated you have none. It is an abuse of the public trust to use your position to connive with others to skew the public debate to push your own political agenda.

Larry Ray Voss
New York City

Posted by: odinwolf85 | July 25, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

The reason "tax swaps" are not talked about is our 1.4 trillion dollar deficit.

This country is going to hell in a handbasket unless conservatives grow up and admit that our multi-generationally-low taxes are insufficient for covering the boomer retirement and the governments other needs.

Our persistent gap between revenue and spending can only be addressed by BOTH cuts AND new taxes. If you can't admit this, you don't even earn a seat at the adult table.

Posted by: brickcha | July 25, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Ezra, it sure is heavy lifting selling your "progressive" agenda without the oordinated assistance of your fellow travelers, isn't it?
Don't worry, I'm certain that, in the vacuum that exists where your journalistic integrity once was, some new (possibly Soros-funded)malignancy will soon form as you and your like-minded cohorts desperately try to give form to the tissue of lies you've been pushing all along.
The only highlight is that, now, EVERY cause to which you attach your name will be unavoidably tainted with the stain of your demonstrated disregard for the facts and malicious campaigns of lies.
Good luck with that, Ezra.

Posted by: OttoDog | July 25, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Still shilling for Obama and the progressive movement, I see, even without your fellow Journolistas to consult for strategy tips. Or have you started a new, double-secret round table?

This sentence says it all: "You'd make it hard to solve without the imposition of a new tax."

Awww, poor Ezra ... what really disappoints you is the fact that The Regime failed in its quest to load yet another tax on the backs of the "small people" and gain even more control over their lives.

Because the world would be so much better if Americans simply handed over all their money to a progressive government that could redistribute it as Dear Leader saw fit -- right, Ezra?

Posted by: UponFurtherReview | July 25, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm....I don't suppose that the unraveling of the global warming myth as the unscientific boondoggle it really is, and the reality of what the climate bill would do to our economy and everyday American lives has anything to do with the sinking energy bill.

Posted by: krcallahan | July 25, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm....I don't suppose that the unraveling of the global warming myth as the unscientific boondoggle it really is, and the reality of what the climate bill would do to our economy and everyday American lives has anything to do with the sinking energy bill.

Posted by: krcallahan | July 25, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

It's a waste of time and energy (pun intended) trying to pass climate legislation.

When times are tough, like they are now, people will burn anything and everything just to get by.

The period of time where we will use fossil fuels is but a very short blip on Earth's (or the humanity) timeline. We will burn the cheapest thing around us, even to our own destruction, just like we have been doing.

It's a good thing just to burn it all and be done with it. Then let the earth repair all the damage we caused and the remaining lifeforms will then not have to deal with the pollution and continued environmental damage. Thus, the sooner we use up this very short-term free energy "gift" the sooner we can get back to reality.

Posted by: lendanear | July 25, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

"If you wanted to design a threat that our political system couldn't address, here's what you'd do: You'd make the pain of doing nothing come much later, but the pain of doing something begin right now."

You mean like...the national debt, Ezra?

Amazing how the only epic catastrophes that matter to you are the epic catastrophes *you* care about...

Posted by: cas127 | July 26, 2010 2:05 AM | Report abuse

THis country has all the cheap, plentiful energy it needs - more than 500 years worth.

The point is to improve the way we handle these energy sources in a market driven way. There is no point in adding artificial costs to current energy in order to subsidize dubious technologies that may never pan out.

When government gets involved in matters such as this, it tends to delay innovation in the meaningful while accelerating resources toward the meaningless.

Posted by: pub123 | July 26, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Why isn't this story on every front page? The media needs to do its job.

Since 1950, phytoplankton in the world's oceans have declined by 40%.
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100728/full/news.2010.379.html

News coverage has been limited.
http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2010/0728/Vital-ocean-phytoplankton-a-casualty-of-global-warming
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748704895004575395273977526844.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10781621

Posted by: mike_midwest | July 29, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

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