A Time of Greater Peril?

The majority of democrats running for president have embraced the Green New Deal or something like ot to address the claimed impending climate catastrophe. Vice President Biden got roundly criticized when it was suggested that he would propose a moderate climate agenda—rejoin the Paris Accord, promulgate emission reduction regulation, and support nuclear power, and natural gas. He quickly backtracked and now is promising an environmental revolution.

The fact that these people are babbling no nothings doesn’t mean much when the climate narrative is being pushed more aggressively than ever. Senator Schumer wants to keep the focus on climate because it is the one issue where democrats are seen to have a big advantage for the 2020 elections.

A poll by Engagious and Focus Pointe Global found general agreement that weather is getting weirder and that President Trump should do more on clean energy innovation and carbon emission reductions. According to Axios a “poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change and George Mason University found that the “alarmed” segment of the American public is at an all-time high of 29% — double the size in a 2013 survey.” These results are not surprising given media coverage, regular “science” reports and the media conflating extreme weather with climate change.

Support in polls is not surprising since polls can be structured to produce almost any result and climate change is being talked about more than almost any time in the last two decades. The strength of public opinion will be tested when the price tag on Green New Deal like actions is better known along with climate facts.

As proponents and many economists discovered several decades ago when they were championing Contingent Valuation to assess the value of environmental values, there is a big difference between what people say they are willing to do or accept and how much they are willing to actually pay. Look at the public reaction to proposals to raise the gasoline tax. As the price of actions favored by democrat candidates becomes more apparent and as people better understand the disconnect between model results as policy drivers and the real climate system, their level of support and enthusiasm are likely to shrink.

The reason that this is a time of greater peril is the fact that republicans do not have a credible alternative to the progressive’s narrative. What could such an alternative consist of?
• To the extent that CO2 emissions are a problem, the problem is a global one that won’t be solved as long as China, India, and other countries continue to rely on coal for electric power generation. Increased exports of energy technology could cost-effectively reduce emissions
• Nuclear power can be an important source of future energy if the problems of cost and public fear can be addressed.
• Any barriers to natural gas replacing coal need to be removed,
• The Dutch have demonstrated that there are practical solutions to the problem of sea level rise.
• Increasing R&D on energy and mitigation technologies.
• Focusing research on areas where it is clear that there are real problems in understanding climate change—reducing the range for estimated climate sensitivity, improving our understanding of natural variability and solar impacts, determining if it is possible to make climate models more accurate, and correcting the well documented problems with temperature and weather data.

None of these actions or others that could be added are attention grabbers are easily achieved but they demonstrate that the alternative is not a radical agenda that is economically destructive or doing nothing. Polarization is the enemy and the real reason why common sense, scientifically defensible policies are not being pursued.

Author: billo38@icloud.com

Founder and president of Solutions Consulting which focuses on public policy issues, strategic planning, and strategic communications.

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