Thursday, October 15, 2009

A colossal blunder from Obama?

I have really begun to think that Obama has made a colossal blunder in the way that he has chosen to handle climate change. It would seem to me that his presidency will be evaluated by history on the manner in which he has reacted to this crisis. It won't be Iraq, Bush's war, nor even Afghanistan… now known as Obama's War. It won't be health care. But those are the issues on which he has chosen to spend his time and his political capital.

It could be argued that he did not choose Iraq and Afghanistan. True about Iraq but he certainly has, from the days of the campaign, chosen to play in Afghanistan.

It is the focus on health care that concerns me and makes me question his judgment. It has the ring of a young man trying to prove that he could get done what Clinton could not, taking Obama forever out of Clinton's shadow.

But this is not issue number one. It won't determine the fact of our economy, or of our comfortable lifestyle. Climate Change will. Failure to address the biggest elephant in the room is a way to be trampled and I don't want my children to suffer for Obama's failure to take his biggest challenge head on.

In the mean time, opposition to Obama has had the opportunity to hone their economic arguments about big government and the costs to the tax payers. If the opposition to the economic bailouts has this ring, and the opposition to health insurance reform has this ring, what do you think will be the key element of the Republican opposition to doing anything about climate change? I can just hear Boehner and McConnel droning on now while Glen Beck stirs up the troops by labeling them "Commies".

There is only a very short time between now and the next meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference - Copenhagen. The best Obama can bring to the meeting is a flawed bill from the House of Representatives, a draft of a bill from the US Senate and a history of having climate change treaties not being ratified in the Senate. The prospects are bleak.

At this point, Obama has yet to expend any political capital to try and get a climate change bill passed in the Senate. Most of the heavy lifting about the economics of this issue has been carried by Joseph Romm at the Climate Progress blog. Even today, Romm cited Entergy CEO J. Wayne Leonard on Climate Change.
We are virtually certain that climate change is occurring, and occurring because of man’s activities. We’re virtually certain the probability distribution curve is all bad. There’s no good things that’s going to come of this. But what’s uncertain is exactly which one of those things are going to occur and in what time frame. In the probability distribution curve is about a 50% probability that about half of all species will become extinct or be subject to extinction over this period of time. What we will never know on an ex ante basis is whether or not man be one of those casualties or not.

We condemn Wall Street for taking risks with our economy — risks that all of you are trying very hard to reverse — but at the same time we’re taking exactly the same kind of risks, with no upside whatsoever, with regard to our climate, failing to practice even the basic risk management techniques in terms of climate change reduction.
In the same post, he quotes Carol Browner as saying it would be a “big mistake” if Congress passed a clean energy bill without a cap on emissions.

I agree with her assessment. I just don't think that this Congress has the courage to do that. There are too many who are too willing to compromise too much for the sake of another vote. So, we will invest in oxymoronic clean coal technologies until we figure out that it is too late. We will shift to burning wood at our power plants because it will be called a "renewable" and the CO2 will fill the skies as before.

This the the issue where science and politics are on a collision course. We must not let the politicians win. How I wish that there were Green willing to stand up and challenge Barbara Boxer in the Senatorial Race this year. Her Republican Opposition seems to be demonstrating their ineptitude at every turn, though Fiorina could bankroll whatever she wants for as long as she wants. DeVore might have the so many manic Republican votes locked up that she will drop out rather than throw good money after bad and we know that DeVore's solution to everything is to go nuclear.

The challenge from a Green would be all about doing the right thing, about standing for ones values and not the value of a contribution. If done right, it would be about correcting Obama's big blunder and saving humanity.

It's blog acton day and this is my contribution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You guys do know that the link to Green Bloggers does not work, right?