The previous post dealt with the Denver Post’s editorial board’s take on the Climate Security Act, S.2191. One of their column writers, David Harsanyi, wrote a column today at the Denver Post about the same bill. David is one of many conservative columnists at the Post that gets space, both in print and in pixels, to share his views.
One of the pillars of his argument today is a familiar one to anybody who has heard right-wing talking points in the past 30 years: the government can’t govern. Which is exactly why Republicans lost control of Congress and a number of state governorships and state legislatures in 2006. And it’s exactly why they’ll lost even more seats this year as well as the White House. The American public is tired of hearing how government can’t do x, y or z. The public knows it can and wants to hear instead candidates’ plans to get government to work for them again.
Then, another big right-wing boogeyman talking point: “de facto taxes”. Interesting that Harsanyi brings up taxes in the climate change realm. I can’t remember seeing a piece by him written on the Iraq occupation taxes that are sucking the Social Security fund dry. Or how about all the de facto taxes that your phone company charges, or your bank, etc. Those are alright because they’re levied by corporations, not by the government. Guess which entity we the people have control over? Here is what it realistically boils down to: pay a little now to introduce a carbon market or pay everything you have and more in the future when the climate system shifts and we’re forced to deal with millions of people affected by them. Harsanyi mentions that the Wall Street Journal estimates the auctions of the credits will net $6.7 trillion for government coffers by 2050 before launching into his anti-investment talking point. Once again, it’s interesting that the $3 trillion the Iraq occupation is costing taxpayers doesn’t warrant the same level of attention, isn’t it?
Much more below the fold.
One bill has around $190 billion allocated to training for “green-collar jobs” to replace those obnoxious people who produce energy you can actually afford. More than $500 billion is earmarked for “wildlife adaptation.” Another $342 billion would be spent on international aid — because Lord knows we don’t need it here — and billions more for mass transit, nuclear plants, kickbacks to Indian tribes and corporations, assistance to those having trouble paying energy bills (wonder why?) and other knickknacks.
Regular-guy David doesn’t know anybody who can’t afford their energy bills? Huh. I wonder why Xcel Energy has a request every fall and winter for donations to families who run short of money. I know – it’s the awesome economy. That’s why nobody is unable to pay their bills. What a jerk.
And what is with invoking God to argue against international aid money? Maybe David should spend some more time expounding on his reasoning to withhold aid from other people around the world, people who experience poverty we Americans never could imagine every day. Most people across the world don’t have access to reliable energy sources, ensuring that their socioeconomic status will likely remain the same for the foreseeable future.
Harsanyi moves on to misinforming readers that the European Union system (which I touched on in my previous post) is “regarded as a complete failure”. In no way is it regarded as a failure. It’s not a perfect system, as I think any reasonable person would acknowledge, including myself. But Harsanyi is an extremist, and as such he constantly issues extreme statements like this one. How many other plans don’t survive their initial contact with reality? Does Harsanyi take business plans like Ford’s and GM’s recent SUV binge to the woodshed? Of course not.
Now it’s time for some minutiae. Harsanyi invokes Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado in his argument against taking action to reduce carbon emissions. Pielke has received much deserved attention due to his role as a climate change delayer. Any association with science that a denyer or delayer might possess is enough to bring heaps of praise from those on high like Harsanyi.
Most people don’t really know who Pielke is though. Pielke is a person who has identified 450 to 500ppm as an acceptable level of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. (The most current measurement is ~384ppm. Pre-Industrial Age concentrations measured only 280ppm). This despite the fact that such concentrations have been linked to very high global temperatures in our geologic history, such as the Jurassic period. A note for readers: Earth’s poles were ice free during these periods. Vast deserts covered land masses. I don’t think this is the kind of climate we should be advocating for, to put it mildly. Climate scientists have recommended a long-term concentration level below 350ppm to avoid total ice cap melt.
A 66% reduction in emissions wouldn’t have negative impacts on our economy, as Harsanyi insinuates. Maybe if taken out of context of the remainder of the economy and obvious shifts that would occur to bring out those reductions. More hand waving and misinformation from the parrot.
Speaking of parroting, here’s an additional example:
But of course, few mention a recent study by the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization — the organization behind the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — explaining there has been no warming the past decade.
Harsanyi makes an obtuse reference to an article that appeared in Nature a short time ago. That article has been, not surprisingly, misinterpreted by delayers/denyers since its release. The decade reference is about this graph. That graph is pretty complex. I’ve addressed it before, will do so again, and will continue to do so as long as snobs like Harsanyi continue to look down on the rest of us while not understand what he’s arguing about. There are a number of curves and each must be interpreted to grasp the graph’s story.
First, each point represents a ten-year centered mean. What does that mean? It means that each point represents the average temperature of the decade starting 5 years before that point and ending 5 years after that point.
Second, the red line is the actual global temperature data from the UK’s Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research. The red line stops in 1998 and not 2007 because it is a running 10-year mean, and the authors dataset ended around 2003. The actual data from the years between 1998 and 2007 have shown a continued increase at nearly the same rate seen between 1990 and 1998.
Third, the black line is one and only one of the IPCC scenarios, A1B. It is a relatively high-CO2-growth model (CO2 concentrations increase with time, as is occurring now). One important point Harsanyi and his handlers won’t talk about (if they even understand it) is that actual carbon emissions since 2000 have wildly outpaced it (see here). So it underestimates reality as we’ve measured it.
Fourth, the solid green line is the hindcast of the authors — how well their model compares to actual data (and the A1B scenario). It is then extended (in dashes, as a forecast) through 2010 and finally to 2025, where it meets up with A1B. This is reflective of the inherent variability within the climate system. It doesn’t mean the warming absolutely will slow down or stagnate or rise. It means some level of uncertainty accompanies their forecasts, which didn’t match up with the validated temperatures in the late 1990s. See: there wasn’t “no warming”. One research group’s model didn’t match actual measurements. Harsanyi (and others) have confused the model results with validated observations, probably purposefully. After, besides myself and a relatively handful of others, who is going to go find the Nature article and read it in its entirety? Further, who is going to look for honest discussion about that study? Obviously not the talking point parrot.
While we’re at it, let’s look at what else the graph says: warming in the past decade. The authors are predicting no increase in average temperature of the “next decade” (2005 to 2015) over the previous decade, which, for them, is 2000 to 2010. And that’s what the figure actually shows — that the 10-year mean global temperature centered around 2010 is the roughly the same as the mean global temperature centered around 2005. The authors have not predicted the next 10 years won’t see any warming.
Years ago, we might have referred to the rationing of energy credits and massive social engineering as “socialism.”
Now we just call it bipartisan consensus.
Ah, now we get to something important. Harsanyi has been left behind by members of his party, by a majority of Americans and by an ever growing number of corporations. Hamstrung by his ideology, he refuses to see what’s in front of him: he has lost the climate change argument. All the delayers/denyers have. The remainder of us have moved on in search of viable solutions. S.2191 is, as I’ve said before, one step down the path toward solutions. It’s not the end-all be-all, but it’s certainly a better place to be than the space occupied by Harsanyi. Denyer-land is getting awfully lonely. Being incorrect about this has to be hard to swallow. It’s too bad pride is getting in his way.
Cross posted at SquareState