September 17, 2012

If this is optimism about controlling global warming

I'll pass on what Noah Smith has to offer at the Atlantic.

First,  Smith poo-poos the use of carbon taxes, because India and China won't go along. He ignores the idea, legal under World Trade Organization regs as I understand them, of combining a carbon tax and carbon tariffs.

Second, he says we should just give away a lot of our solar and other green technology. Excuse me? China manufactures plenty already. And, is doing enough research on solar panel efficiency, I'm sure.

Third, he buys all the hype about natural gas when some studies show, that if wellhead and transmission leaks are bad enough, it could be almost as bad a greenhouse fuel as coal.

Fourth, he stereotypes all environmentalists as "panicking" over shale gas fracking rather than working to try to correct its worst problems.
This means working with gas companies, which often are also the same oil companies that have funded denial of global warming. Environmentalists will be understandably wary about partnering with such entities.
Excuse me? Where are the corporate folks like Chesapeake? They're doing bupkis on their end of the stick, by and large.

Which is why Smith's next comment is lame, too:
But remember, the true enemy is not corporations; it's global warming. If Exxon can help fight warming by replacing coal with gas, then they are temporarily on the side of the good guys. (And take heart; the fall in solar costs, if it continues, will eventually render all of this fighting irrelevant.)
Wrong on all counts. Exxon is trying to replace coal with gas because it drills plenty of gas and mines zero coal. Because it makes zero solar panels, it has no interest in that getting a boost.

Finally, there's no mention of doing more conservation. No, that's not a huge part of the long-term answer, but it's not insignificant, either.

The only thing Smith gets right is the need for conservatives to admit solar is real.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, though working for a conservative think tank, is right about how to do that, and more: sell it as a national defense issue.

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