Global Warming Back In The News

Tuesday President Obama announces steps to address global warming. The Economist, a magazine which has heretofore been an advocate of drastic action, suggests that less convincing evidence of rising temperatures may make political acceptance of new initiatives a tough sell.

Cohn does his best to affirm that the urgent necessity of acting to retard warming has not abated, as does Brad Plumer of the Washington Post, as does this newspaper. But there’s no way around the fact that this reprieve for the planet is bad news for proponents of policies, suchMr  as carbon taxes and emissions treaties, meant to slow warming by moderating the release of greenhouse gases. The reality is that the already meagre prospects of these policies, in America at least, will be devastated if temperatures do fall outside the lower bound of the projections that environmentalists have used to create a panicked sense of emergency. Whether or not dramatic climate-policy interventions remain advisable, they will become harder, if not impossible, to sell to the public, which will feel, not unreasonably, that the scientific and media establishment has cried wolf.

The article includes a refreshing admission that the science of climate warming is hardly settled. A refreshing admission given that there never has been such a thing as settled science, climatological or otherwise.

But never fear, the true believers are banging the drums. Brad Plummer at Ezra Klein’s place explains.

Over the past few years, U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions have been falling rapidly, thanks to the recession, improved energy-efficiency, and a shift from coal to natural gas. But those trends have bottomed out recently, and coal started making a comeback in 2013.

That means the United States is no longer on track to reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, as Obama pledged under the Copenhagen Accord. To hit that target, the White House report argued, new “policy steps” will be needed. (These cuts are seen as a necessary first step, but far from sufficient to tackle global warming— there are still longer-term cuts, China needs to get on board, etc.)

OK, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but can we at least agree that US presidents don’t go around the world committing the country to anything. Whatever utterances the President made at the Copenhagen conclave he never submitted anything resembling a  treaty or similar type of binding legislation to Congress for ratification. There may be a case for further policy initiatives but it’s not because we’re obliged to do so.

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About Tom Lindmark 401 Articles

I’m not sure that credentials mean much when it comes to writing about things but people seem to want to see them, so briefly here are mine. I have an undergraduate degree in economics from an undistinguished Midwestern university and masters in international business from an equally undistinguished Southwestern University. I spent a number of years working for large banks lending to lots of different industries. For the past few years, I’ve been engaged in real estate finance – primarily for commercial projects. Like a lot of other finance guys, I’m looking for a job at this point in time.

Given all of that, I suggest that you take what I write with the appropriate grain of salt. I try and figure out what’s behind the news but suspect that I’m often delusional. Nevertheless, I keep throwing things out there and occasionally it sticks. I do read the comments that readers leave and to the extent I can reply to them. I also reply to all emails so feel free to contact me if you want to discuss something at more length. Oh, I also have a very thick skin, so if you disagree feel free to say so.

Enjoy what I write and let me know when I’m off base – I probably won’t agree with you but don’t be shy.

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