The last gasp of the global warming movement?

Are the global warming climate change oh-god-we’re-all-going-to-die-unless-you-move-into-a-yurt-right-NOW activists breathing their last in their attempt to save civilization by destroying it?  Shika Dalmia seems to think so:

Future historians will pinpoint Democratic Sen. Harry Reid’s energy legislation, released last Tuesday, as the moment that the political movement of global warming entered an irreversible death spiral. It is kaput! Finito! Done!

This is not just my read of the situation; it is also that of Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate-turned-Democratic-apparatchik. In his latest column for The New York Times, Krugman laments that “all hope for action to limit climate change died” in 2010. Democrats had a brief window of opportunity before the politics of global warming changed forever in November to ram something through Congress. But the Reid bill chose not to do so for the excellent reason that Democrats want to avoid an even bigger beating than the one they already face at the polls.

Unsurprisingly the Dems’ political mortality is the primary reason for backing off from any significant global warming legislation, as opposed to the very logical conclusion that you can’t regulate people’s demand for energy by taxing its production any more than you can regulate their demand for meth by hiding the Sudafed behind the pharmacy counter.

Dalmia goes on to point out that, contra Paul Krugman’s condemnation of the greedy energy companies, they are just as hosed by the demise of global warming initiatives as the greenies:

The truth is that there never has been an environmental issue that has enjoyed greater corporate support. Early in the global warming crusade, a coalition of corporations called United States Climate Action Partnership was formed with the express purpose of lobbying Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It included major utilities (Duke Energy) and gas companies (BP) that stood to gain by hobbling the coal industry through a cap-and-trade scheme. Meanwhile, the Breakthrough Institute, a highly respected liberal outfit whose mission is to rejuvenate the progressive movement in this country, points out that environmental groups spent at least $100 million over the past two years executing what was arguably the best mobilization campaign in history. Despite all of this, notes Breakthrough, there is little evidence to suggest that cap-and-trade would have mustered more than 43 votes in the Senate.

Not only are Democrats and Republicans unwilling to touch cap-and-trade legislation, but they’re finally waking up to the fact that related boondoggles such as the ethanol subsidy, which has fattened the coffers of Big Ag for years, ain’t worth it either.

As more doubts are raised about the integrity of the science behind global warming (hint: it’s not just about Climategate), the less it seems likely that the global warming alarmists will gain the political leverage to put their disastrous economic plans into action.  But there’s always another IPCC report just around the corner, ready to stoke the flames of climate change fear once more.  Perhaps the planet would cool off for a bit, were it not for all the gas escaping from climate scientists and politicians.

3 comments… add one

  • I don’t get it.

    “Are the global warming climate change oh-god-we’re-all-going-to-die-unless-you-move-into-a-yurt-right-NOW activists breathing their last in their attempt to save civilization by destroying it?”

    I guess this gross misrepresentation of others is an attempt to be funny. Whatever.

    as the moment that the political movement of global warming entered an irreversible death spiral.

    So this one setback is the defining moment in a movement that has been growing for 30 years (in line with public understanding of the scientific issues). Wishful thinking.

    you can’t regulate people’s demand for energy by taxing its production

    Wow. People don’t respond to prices? This is the most profound economic insight of the past century! Get this man a Nobel Prize in economics!

    All that we’re seeing here is that the political process in corrupt. The power holders are corrupt, and the basic idea of democracy is corrupt. However, this will only be the end of ” the political movement of global warming” if it is the end of politics. Public understanding of global warming is growing, and the politicians will continue to use it (and the denial of it) as a rhetorical point in their endless quest to shift wealth to their allies. Their proposals (such as the ethanol boondoggle) were never meant to address the issue of global warming…the issue is just a prop, and if the political debate is settled one way or another, they will just pick up another prop.

  • If the political process is corrupt, and the power holders are corrupt–two points I cannot argue–how can the anthropogenic global warming movement, and I hesitate to ever use that word, not also be corrupt? From the start, that movemen has been about power and resources, and not surprisingly, about shifting power and resources from some to others. Certainly people respond to prices, but whenever the State uses prices to drive behavior two outcomes seem almost inevitable. One, the unforeseen consequences of any change in behavior will be worse than that which ostensibly drove the taxation scheme. (For example, make drugs illegal, and drug gangs and violence rise up to augment the trade of the now illegal drugs!) Two, the beneficiaries of the income from said scheme won’t be the supposed victims of the malady the taxation scheme was said to be addressing. One can only hope the temple of global warming is about to burn down, but I doubt it. (I reckon there’s still too much cash to be made.)

  • Anthropogenic global warming is not a movement, it is a scientific theory. It’s core components are well substantiated — humans are increasing the concentration of greenhouse gasses and thereby altering the climate on a global scale. The ultimate consequences are rather speculative, but they could be disastrous (over the course of a centuries) so there is good reason to make some effort to reduce the rate at which greenhouse gasses are produced.

    That’s where it becomes an issue for social movements, such as the environmental movement. What bugs me is that so many libertarians seem to concede that if anthropogenic global warming is real, then the only appropriate response is some form of central planning. Why are libertarians denying well-established science rather than proposing a libertarian solution to the problem?

    We do not need some grandiose state-administered plan to mitigate the risk of anthropogenic global warming. The risk could be addressed through philanthropic activities, and market pressure on polluters. Even within the political realm, solutions do not have to be anti-libertarian: to some extent, policy makers just need to be pressured to take greenhouse gas emissions into consideration when they set their policies. Solutions could even be libertarian — such as attacking regulations and subsidies that discourage energy-efficient living. How about we reduce the size of the military? — those vehicles burn immense amounts of fuel.

    I’ve written more extensively on this issue at Freedom Democrats:

    As for the the two specific points in the previous post:
    1) Prohibition is fundamentally different than a moderate level of taxation. Taxation could be high enough to be equivalent to prohibition, but I don’t think that such intense taxation is being seriously considered. Also, proposed policies have been excessively concerned with providing alternatives to fossil fuels.
    2) I understand that the tax revenue will likely go into the state’s general fund (and corporate coffers). However, there is currently a bill in the House that would have the revenues distributed among the people (see These “dividend” systems are actually supported by the radical environmentalists because they believe it would be politically easier to raise the tax to prohibitively high levels if the state is not relying on the revenues. Anyway, I think that the issue here is state spending, which is largely independent of the taxation system, and completely independent of global warming.


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