Home > Uncategorized > Op-Ed Columnist – The Right and the Climate – NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist – The Right and the Climate – NYTimes.com

Cap-and-trade’s backers are correct to point the finger rightward. If their bill is dead, it was the American conservative movement that ultimately killed it…

To understand why, it’s worth going back to the 1970s, the crucible in which modern right-wing politics was forged…

According to a chorus of credentialed alarmists, the world was entering an age of sweeping famines, crippling energy shortages, and looming civilizational collapse.

It was not lost on conservatives that this analysis led inexorably to left-wing policy prescriptions — a government-run energy sector at home, and population control for the teeming masses overseas…

Time was unkind to the alarmists. The catastrophes never materialized, and global living standards soared. By the turn of the millennium, the developed world was worrying about a birth dearth…

History, however, rarely repeats itself exactly — and conservatives who treat global warming as just another scare story are almost certainly mistaken.

Rising temperatures won’t “destroy” the planet, as fearmongers and celebrities like to say. But the evidence that carbon emissions are altering the planet’s ecology is too convincing to ignore…

But this doesn’t mean that we should mourn the death of cap-and-trade…

Liberals disagree, of course. They think the skeptics underestimate the potential for catastrophe, and overestimate the costs of regulation. They, too, look to the past for lessons, but their model is the Clean Air Act and its various modifications, which reduced domestic air pollution relatively cheaply.

But the Clean Air Act didn’t require collective action on a global scale — the kind of action that last year’s Copenhagen conference placed ever further out of reach. What’s more, a crucial technology, the catalytic converter, was already on the way as the act’s provisions went into effect. Cap-and-trade is more of a leap in the dark.

Liberalism specializes in such leaps. But you can see why conservatives might lean toward the wisdom of inaction. Not every danger has a regulatory solution, and sometimes it makes sense to wait, get richer, and then try to muddle through.

via Op-Ed Columnist – The Right and the Climate – NYTimes.com.

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