Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Climate Change Debate Masks Insane Tactical Confusion

Climate Change is one of those issues that really divides liberals and conservatives. Liberals see this as a demonstrable scientific truth with obvious implications about energy conservation. Conservatives see it as a pretext for more Big Government. Liberals are generally winning the argument that climate change is human-caused--if winning means generating a majority vote of both the masses, and the elites.

But while the liberals currently have the upper hand in this debate, they are losing the tactical war. Wired News, hardly a conservative outlet, lists 10 'green heresies [ie, things that are true, yet generally dismissed by environmentalists]':

1. It is greener to live in the cities
2. Air-conditioning is greener than heating
3. Conventional agriculture beats organics
4. Forests may cause warming
5. China is the solution
6. Genetic engineering may be great
7. Carbon trading is a failure
8. Nuclear power beats all other sources
9. Used cars beat hybrids
10. Climate change is inevitable
11. CO2 is not everything (bonus)

Just to make sure that they're green, one article starts off "No one with any scientific sense now disagrees about the severity of the climate crisis".

Lately, ethanol has taken a beating. Originally touted by none other than Al Gore (he cast the deciding vote in 1994 starting the ethanol add-in mandates that have become huge subsidies for farmers), its now seen as counterproductive...by greens! If the rest of this list follows, it seems liberals are on the defensive on this issue, as they rationalize solutions based on hope, specifically, that current deficiencies in technologies such as solar will be rectified by sheer will like the moon landing.

I think conservatives win on these tactical issues because a liberals tend to see something and say "why not", which sounds nice, but tends to dismiss the fact that the status quo has more fundamental drivers than a mere conspiracy by the captains of industry. For example, the common belief that electric cars can reduce energy demand if we merely tried harder, ignores the fact that electric cars were invented prior to the internal combustion engine, and there has always been a huge market demand for better battery technology.


Pete S said...

Another one: It takes so much energy to make ceramic plates and mugs (which are both heavy), then transport them to where they will be used, then clean and steralize them after use with hot water and electricity (takes lots of energy to steralize since they are so heavy), that the more ecological thing to do is use the superlight styrafoam. It can be reused a few times. Then it can be recycled easily into insulation or for other uses. If it's white, it's particularly easy to sort/clean/recycle.

Anonymous said...

What underlies even not-so-fervent liberal environmentalism is the rejection of cost-benefit analysis, the inability to accept tradeoffs, and pointless "us vs. them" framing.