Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The First Rule of Global Warming Is

You don't talk about Global Warming.

Ezra Klein:

In response to this, Rachel said that no one wants to hear about climate change. The operative emotion here has to be inspiration, not fear. And she's right about that. The polling certainly backs her up. But that strikes me as depressing evidence of how unlikely we are to succeed. I simply don't believe you could've passed health care if you couldn't have talked about covering the uninsured, and I don't think stimulus would've worked without the spur of the unemployed. It's not that people wanted to hear about either subject all day, but they got both problems on a visceral enough level that the action being taken at least made a sort of sense.

My fear is that if we ever get to the place where the action being taken makes a sort of sense as a way to address the problem, public opinion will collapse because it's built on such a flimsy foundation. Talking about clean energy isn't a lie, of course. But a bill to mitigate climate change isn't a jobs bill, as Nancy Pelosi has argued, and it's more than just a bill to make sure China doesn't capture to much of the renewable-energy business. It's going to be a big bill with some unpopular stuff in it because it's trying to do a hard and important thing. And if Americans have been told that this bill will be all goodies -- all jobs and energy and so forth -- it's hard to imagine them sticking around once they hear that the price of electricity is going to jump up, even if only by a little bit.

All that said, I think the politics of this are rapidly moving toward an efficiency and innovation-investment solution, and that bill does look more like goodies and can be sold on these grounds. That still leaves the question of how to pay for it, but at least it matches where the polling is on this subject. The downside is that it doesn't match the actual problem we're trying to solve.

Right. I have said before that I think most people don’t see tangible evidence that our climate is changing (see here and here). They don’t get the basis of the argument. They go to their neighborhoods and see trees. They see green grass. They see blue skies and the sun shine. "So how is the Earth in trouble?" "Why such urgency?" "It snowed in D.C., where is this Global Warming?" In fact even when you point out to climate change skeptics the simple fact that human beings are consumers i.e. we eat, we build, we plant etc., the point is lost since the immediacy is not in plain sight.

The reason the president did not address this is because the message would have been muddled. People would have heard climate change and been either dumfounded or apathetic. An issue however does present itself when you try to paint a bill meant to curb the effects of climate change as a “goodies” bill as Ezra states. It is a Catch-22. Mention climate change and the bill will never get passed by the Senate. Call it something else and promise the unattainable

It would be better if scientists and researchers were cognoscente enough to launch an independent campaign sans Al Gore and the normal celebrity trolls. That of course is asking too much. Regardless I don’t see this issue getting any simpler and I don’t see any signs the White House and Obama have a clear strategy here (unless you call accepting bare minimum as a strategy). How does one rewrite years of misinformation? If the BP Spill isn’t enough I really don’t know what is…

I am Frank Chow and I approved this message

No comments: