Who's Got Game?

In recent posts, I’ve wondered aloud if the stalled policy and political action on climate change presented a window for alternative proposals to gain a fresh hearing. After all, as Tom Yulsman, noting the groundhog day element to the most recent global talks, asks:

Who was it who said that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”?

I sense that many people close to this debate are prepared to risk insanity rather than consider an alternative approach to decarbonization. I base this in part on some of the negative reaction to a bipartisan proposal floated last week, and to the exchanges that emerged in this thread, which boiled down to a why would an energy innovation centric framework be any more viable than a cap and trade or a carbon pricing centric framework? What’s the evidence the former would do any better than the latter?

Fair questions. But what I was trying to get at is whether or not a new approach was something that could even be debated in good faith. That requires one prerequisite: being open to a completely different mindset on how to best tackle climate change. Or to put it another way: being willing to reject the existing mindset because it is not winning the day and shows no evidence it can do so anytime soon.

Over at Dot Earth, one reader, recognizing the failure of the existing “narrative” to carry the day, shows he’s open to something new (my emphasis):

The depth or irrationality and hostility over climate science has me pretty convinced that it is futile to try and further refine a narrative or sales pitch about the rising risk for climate change. It just seems like a Sysiphean task when we are dealing with a large part of the population that believes our President practices the Muslim faith and might not actually be a native born American despite his birth certificate. People believe what they want to believe, not reality. I’m not suggesting the scientific community stop their work and talking about it and arguing with the deniers. Unfortunately that has to go on at some level.

It seems like we need to change the subject and develop a narrative about why it’s a positive thing to move to a green energy future and economy; it’s not only for climate. The other post about the Kansas experiment is a good example of this. Maybe once people get past their fear that all this climate change talk is a threat to the “American Way of Life”, then they will be able to view the science rationally. Ultimately, the positive argument has its limits it would seem. My sense is we have to have some kind of regulatory system that puts a price on carbon. I’m not sure a positive vision is enough, but I think it’s an essential step that might make it possible for other steps to follow.

This last remark about a “positive vision” I highlight because it’s similar to the logic that we often heard with respect to the congressional cap and trade bill, and which I was sympathetic to: just get the ball rolling and other steps (domestically and internationally) will follow.

Well that ball is dead. There’s no longer a game. There’s not even the pretense of a game on the global stage. So all those progressive steps that were promised by the legislation’s supporters are not going to happen. Where does that leave them?

Well, why not try a new ball with some life in it and get another game going? For that, let’s go to one of the willing players: Teryn Norris, president of Americans for Energy Leadership and a former senior advisor at the Breakthrough Institute.

Norris, in response to a question that Andy Revkin posed earlier this week to an email group that included him, wrote (and I’m excerpting, with his permission):

I think [Ezra] Klein’s analysis was relatively accurate in describing how the politics of an energy innovation agenda could be significantly stronger than cap and trade.  The reasons are many, and I won’t attempt to review all of them here, but suffice it to say that while cap and trade is most centrally about climate change, energy innovation speaks to a much broader and more powerful set of public concerns: economic competitiveness, national security, job creation, and technological development (and the potential for cheaper forms of energy).

To help make his case, Norris then quoted from an approving article on the “Post-Partisan Power” report by Kristen Sheeran, an economist who wrote:

With sufficient investment, we can move renewable technologies along the cost-curve to the point where they can actually compete with (heavily-subsidized) fossil fuels… In the process, the U.S. develops home-grown energy sources that lessen our dependence on fossil fuel imports, creates new clean energy sector jobs, reaps the savings of improved energy efficiency, and recaptures its technological competitiveness in the global economy. Who can argue with a proposal like that?
Back to Norris:
It’s no wonder that federal investment in clean energy technology consistently polls higher than any other single energy policy proposal.  As I wrote in National Journal, “Even before the Gulf oil spill, a poll by Pew Research in March found that 78% of the public favors increased government funding for research into clean energy technologies. When compared to alternatives such as carbon pricing, technology investment fares as the most popular energy policy proposal.”

Regardless, cap and trade is dead for the foreseeable future, and the type of proposal outlined in “Post-Partisan Power” offers one of the best possibilities for substantive reform. Al Gore, Reed Hundt, and John Podesta may also be heading in this direction,  having adopted their own slogan similar to make clean energy cheap, “lowering the cost of clean.”  This is just the beginning of a shift that may take years to complete.  But in my view, those who would attack this possibility from the outset — especially those within the climate movement — are being short-sighted at best and intentionally destructive at worst.

Here’s the way I look at it: there’s no game in town right now. Norris and his team see an open court and are starting their own game, with their own ball. Some people are starting to come by and watch what unfolds. The other guys who held the court before don’t like that. Well you lost and got kicked off. What are you going to do now? Hurl insults from the stands, or take on the new guys?

73 Responses to “Who's Got Game?”

  1. thingsbreak says:

    1. Emissions pricing legislation advanced as far as it ever has this year, improving over every other attempt previously. It passed in the US House of Representatives, and in any other Senate than the one we had would have enjoyed a healthy chance at success if not guaranteed passage. It would be insanity to keep trying the same strategy if you didn’t see improvement. The improvement in terms of advancing legislation is undeniable though insufficient. Does it give you pause at all how quickly you’ve bought into the sales pitch that emissions legislation has utterly failed when it’s come as far as it ever has?

    2. People are conceding that emissions pricing is dead for the immediate future in Washington DC. This is a town that whiplashes from “permanent GOP majority” to “GOP lost in the wilderness for the foreseeable future” to “OMG Scott Brown means health care is dead for decades” to “Obama is the most transformative president since FDR” to whatever the narrative today is in the span of 8 years. Emissions pricing is not dead for the indefinite future. If the administration got its sh|t together and stimulated the economy enough for modest recovery by the 2012 or 2014 elections, there’s no reason to believe emissions legislation couldn’t pass. Especially if the current gaggle of extremist clowns running for Congress prove as embarrassing in office as they have on the campaign trail. Forever is a very, very short time in politics. Health care reform was declared to be dead for good after Clinton’s failure. People are going to end up paying for carbon one way or another. The question is how long we’ll put it off, not whether it will ever happen.

    3. No one has presented an explanation for how this “new” breakthrough scheme will result in any sort of meaningful emissions reductions. How it will keep coal in the ground. We’re not asking for a money-back guarantee, Keith, we’re just asking for these people to articulate the mechanism by which this even supposed to work *on paper*. Please stop pretending that this has something to do with closed minds.
     
    Show. Your. Work.
     
    Not a promise of success, just a plausible mechanism to meaningfully cut emissions absent obscene governmental interference in the energy market.

  2. bigcitylib says:

    The Breakthrough Institute proposal has already been panned by TeaParty reps, and anyone that thinks the curent crop of GOPers or Dems who’ve been burned by C&T are going to go for a Gas Tax is nuts, to put it mildly.  Hate to bring Romm up, but he’s right on this one: there isn’t a single vote in the U.S. house and/or Senate for anything like the BI proposal.  I suspect the people behind it know that too and this as, as MT has written, a pose, not a position.

  3. Tom Fuller says:

    On the other hand, we do have a gas tax in place. It’s easier to raise a tax than institute it.

  4. bigcitylib says:

    Tom, run an increase in the gas tax past 100 GOPers and 95 will laugh at you.  5 will accuse you of being a Muslim.  The BI proposal can’t be taken seriously.

  5. I would not characterize my position as supportive of the “Breakthrough Approach”. In the essay I am quoted from, I express real skepticism that a technology-only approach to climate change can work. Here is that essay in its entirety.
    http://realclimateeconomics.org/wp/archives/398
     

  6. Steve Bloom says:

    It’s not just a pose, it’s a career opportunity!  I’m sure these kids will all have bright futures as bureaucrats after they graduate.

    As I said elsewhere, and as can be seen just by monitoring the news, there’s a vast amount of progress on alternative/sustainable energy being made, albeit not enough.  This propoisal is still nowhere near enough, so what does it add in a qualitative sense?  The answer to that may be more than nothing, although it had better add a whole lot since the price for its passage will be a political deal, one that will likely stick for years, that says sharp carbon reductions are something we don’t want to do.  That’s going to kill people, and by that I don’t mean just metaphorical tomato paste.

    So, Keith, just out of curiosity, what team takes the court when this fails too?   
     

  7. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    I’m all for an innovation policy, but that won’t be enough. Michael Levi is very persuasive on this matter.  There’s no incentive for private firms to bring clean energy out of the lab and into the marketplace unless there’s a price advantage to clean energy.
     
    I think we need to decouple the different parts of policy and implement them separately. Lack of a price on emissions shouldn’t stand in the way of R&D funding, but neither would success at getting R&D funding obviate the need to price or otherwise limit emissions. And serious funding for adaptation is also needed and shouldn’t be conditional on either of the other two legs.
     
    What worries me is that it’s as though someone is diagnosed with cancer and the doctor prescribes more research because the therapeutic options aren’t good enough. Yes, we need research, but the cancer may have metastasized or even killed the patient by the time new treatments are discovered, tested, and brought to market.
     
    And as with climate change, there are lots of uncertainties with cancer prognosis: the doctor won’t have validated models that can predict exactly when the cancer will metastasize, and to which organs. The doctor won’t be able to say exactly how long you have to live (maybe the cancer will simply remain in-situ for a very long time). Indeed, cancer skeptics will point to people who lived for decades after a doctor predicted a life-span of months.  And don’t forget that the doctor’s paid to treat cancer and thus has a financial incentive to exaggerate the danger.
     
    So there’s a case to be made for just waiting and funding research while we wait to understand the cancer more precisely and develop better therapeutic tools. But most people, in the patient’s position, would want to decouple the research from the treatment and pursue therapeutic options, however imperfect and expensive, today while also supporting a completely separate long-term research and innovation program.
     
    However, to conflate Pielke the younger with Rumsfeld, we have to fight the climate wars with the policies we can enact today, not the policies we want, or the policies we might wish to enact at a later time. And if energy R&D is all we can get today, it can’t hurt and over time it could help an awful lot. But it’s also important not to stop working independently for progress on the other two fronts of emissions reduction and adaptation.

  8. Jack Hughes says:

    No.
     
    Insanity is when you keep inventing different reasons to justify what you want to do.

  9. Keith Kloor says:

    Kristen (5):

    I apologize, and made the correction in the text.

  10. grypo says:

    JG #7
    Good post.  I think it important that this R&D NOT be the labeled”a new energy policy”.  If we were to get 25 billion per year, paid by reduced carbon energy subsidies (which of course would be spun as a “tax”), the way it is displayed to the public will mean a lot in future political capital for the democrats, if they have any left (TBD nov 2).  If Democrats call this a energy job machine, or something like that, and make sure to retreat from “this-replaces-a-carbon-tax” then there is still a chance for real energy policy (assuming people understand the risk at some point).
     

  11. Tom Yulsman says:

    R & D is not just about “R.” It’s about the “D” as well. And according to my dictionary, “development” means, “grow or cause to grow and become more mature.” So the idea that the cancer patient would be waiting, waiting, waiting for basic research to come up with an effective treatment until he just kicks the bucket for lack of ANY treatment, just isn’t a good analogy at all.

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think anyone is proposing a policy that relies on energy technology innovation only. But for more than 20 years we’ve tried to take a first step by putting on a cap on carbon. That policy has crashed and burned, and I’m sorry, in this environment it just ain’t taking off again any time soon. So given this awful reality, would someone please give me one logical reason why we shouldn’t pursue a different path as a FIRST step?

    If the public supports it, and it starts to become successful, then perhaps other policy options will start to look more attractive. Maybe. Or maybe not. But do we have any alternative at this point that’s not, well, uhm, insane?

  12. Lewis says:

    Who has got game? We are not, unfortunately, so well fortuned – this feels to much like Five Easy Pieces – we have not chosen  our fathers or our fathers fathers. We struggle every morning with some kind of moral corrupace of moral rightness that fails to cover our moral nakedness. Every morning. No worry, we have to choose what is right, sans mother, sans father, ourselves?! So, I choose this!

  13. Steve Bloom says:

    Now this is an interesting development, a cheaper-then-coal solar breakthrough that sounds real.  (Hopefully I’m not reading too much into the significance of the amazingly quick transition from lab through research and into development.)

    So what happens if it is real?  Do we get a rapid transition to it, or does the coal industry fight tooth and nail to get everyone else to pay for their sunk costs?  I say the latter.  And will the corn ethanol industry roll over without a fight?  After a while that’s a lot of Senators lined up in favor of the status quo. 

    Note that since wind technology is close to mature (let’s hope the purple blade thing works out), the auto industry is headed down a path toward electrics, and the needed HVDC network looks to be getting a start thanks to Google, with the solar breakthrough the biggest pieces would all be in place.  All that’s missing is the element of good old-fashioned American short-term self-interest.  Whence comes that, Tom?

  14. Keith Kloor says:

    Once again, many are missing the thrust of my post: before we can have a debate on the merits between the R & D-centric or emissions reduction-centric approaches, I’m suggesting that we first have to examine the mindsets underlying them.

    For decades, the climate doom narrative has framed the approach to decarbonization via cap and trade and/or carbon tax. All I’m asking at this point is if people are willing to reexamine that approach and honestly debate if it should be continued. All evidence thus far suggests it’s not going to win the day. Do you continue with it or take a fresh look at the other competing narrative, which is to lead with  R & D approach, and which as Teryn outlined above, seems to get you broader buy-in from disparate parties and may help smooth the way for additional steps on the carbon reduction front?

    It’s a debate over philosophies, as much as anything else. That’s the debate I’m interested in having. Any takers?

    At the least, I’d settle for some soul searching from those who have bet the farm on the climate doom narrative.

     

  15. Steve Bloom says:

    BTW, Tom, you want insane?  I got yer insane right here:

    “The report includes estimates of losses with and without the effects of global warming. That was done in recognition of strong opposition by senior political leaders, including several governors of coastal states, to the idea that human-induced global warming will increase sea-level rise above levels occurring naturally, said Entergy Corp. Chief Executive Officer Wayne Leonard.”  (Note that per the report we are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in damage in the relatively near future.)

    But this raises a philospohical question that maybe Ben can help answer:  Are insane and surreal in any way exclusive of one another?

  16. bigcitylib says:

    Keith wrote:

    “For decades, the climate doom narrative has framed the approach to decarbonization via cap and trade and/or carbon tax. All I’m asking at this point is if people are willing to reexamine that approach and honestly debate if it should be continued.”

    Since the BI approache involves some version of a carbon tax, how does this even start to make sense?

    Sorry, you appear to be blithering.

  17. Lewis says:

    Keith, I’m sorry I didn’t take this very seriously? I take a brief look over and sometimes I just say nonsense. Sorry
    As to your to your question, if  I understand it, your asking if the question can be re-framed? ( Which, incidentally, is the unspoken question in Judith’s ‘Frame and reference’?) For instance, one might ask how is more ‘power’ gotten out of an inefficient engine? But, also, one might ask – what technology can we give to those worlds – India, for instance- that are trying to catch up with us? I think India, as well as China, needs a bit of Dialogue, before one goes off half-hatted and half-cocked into your sun! Finally, and to address your question in a western context, how might we learn to speak that makes us more believable and not just slick oil merchants with our own agenda?

  18. Lewis says:

    ‘Who was it who said that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”?’
    As usual, Keith, your exactly right but your slightly scratching the same record. The question is, who doesn’t want clean, efficient energy? So, lets make this a realistic proposal to Jo’s pockets? And lets get together on this – let us include nuclear or whatever power source is the most efficient and before we, the West, lose our position of leadership? Let us prove that these technologies are economically viable before, as it were, we become less than viable? That is what I understand in Michaels despondency and, as it were, panic. All I’m saying is first talk to the electorate, not talk down to him, but believe in him, and Second, realise that, very quickly the Chinese and Indians are taking the baton away from us. We must lead now or forever hold our silence.

  19. Lewis says:

    And, indeed, that’s why I brought up the ‘Churchillian’ metaphor with Michael – that rhetoric was the rhetoric of democracy rather than the tyranies of Her Hitler and Signor Mussolini – but yet it was a rhetoric of persuasion – and you know why, because Churchill had read deep of history and knew his Gibbon and his Thucydides and his Pericles. Every great occasion seems to call forth the right person but not this time? Is it us or the times? Churchill spoke to our deepest rationality – isn’t that what is needed? But then you’d have to be British.

  20. thingsbreak says:

    @kkloor:
    many are missing the thrust of my post: before we can have a debate on the merits between the R & D-centric or emissions reduction-centric approaches, I’m suggesting that we first have to examine the mindsets underlying them.
     
    Why?
     
    If there’s no viable mechanism behind one of them, what is the point of discussing it?
     
    Why on Earth is this such a difficult thing for you to accept? I don’t care who is arguing for or against what, or what narrative is the current flavor of the month.
     
    Yes, let’s fund clean energy! Yes, let’s fund adaptation!
     
    Who is actually arguing against doing this?
     
    It’s an altogether different proposition for you to demand that we treat the “breakthrough” scheme as an “alternative” to emissions pricing in terms of actually cutting emissions when no one seems to be capable of articulating how it can work even on paper.

  21. Tom Fuller says:

    I personally believe that solar energy is on the brink of a breakthrough that will bring it to grid parity before 2015. (And I’ve said so to paying clients who will be very annoyed with me if I’m mistaken.)
     
    However, without similar levels of investment, hard work and clear thinking regarding utility level energy storage, even grid parity for solar will not be enough.
     
    The type of Breakthrough we need is funding for peripheral issues like energy storage, high-efficiency transmission (HVDC, or even ceramic superconductors), wireless transmission of energy, etc. Those are all pricey things to study, which is why the sums of money being bandied about are not really insane, although I wish we used X prizes more.
     
    What this conversation seems to be ignoring is the fact that an RD&D-centric approach does not need to command wide public or political support. In the U.S., it can be pretty much mandated without any elected official getting involved, if it is determined to be in our best interests.
     
    Which is a key selling point, IMO.

  22. Jonathan Gilligan (comment 7) sums it up really well:

    Both R&D and implementation and adaptation are needed, and they shouldn’t be tightly coupled, because they address different things (or at the very least, address the same things via very different timescales).

    His analogy is spot on as well.

  23. Keith Kloor says:

    Bart (22), (7):

    You guys are dancing around my larger point. I’m talking about what should be the impetus behind an energy policy. Should it be the clarion call of climate doom, if carbon emissions aren’t reduced, or should it be a call for energy innovation?

    Which narrative do you prefer?

  24. Keith,

    I wrote before on the question of whether mitigation policies should be framed as primarily an energy or climate issue.

    Two main points:

    1) The risk of doing something for the “˜wrong’ reasons is that the “˜real’ reason will not be sufficiently addressed. 

    2) I regard the climate issue as more urgent, because even though it’s a slow motion process, it can only very slowly be reduced/reversed as well. We’re trying to steer an oil tanker into a different direction, and we better start steering well in time. Problematic climatic consequences will be effectively locked in well before limiting reserves of fossil fuels start to be really pressing. I.e. peak oil will not solve the cliamte problem.

  25. Ah, I forgot the conclusion (in case it wasn’t clear ;-):

    I think it’s best to not discard climate issues (not “doom”) as a rationale for energy policies. Presenting both energy and climate issues probably works best: They both point into a similar direction as to what’s needed (though with different urgencies and emphases).

  26. grypo says:

    Should it be the clarion call of climate doom,—

    No, it should be addresses as a risk management problem.  You are allowing the “opposition” to define what the mitigation/adaption message is.  Demanding that a carbon tax be placed on the major sources (coal/tar sands/oil) is not an extreme narrative.  It’s a market based one that true free marteteers should embrace.
    1.  Do you want to risk the possible negative consequences to the planet due to the energy imbalance?
    2.  Do you want to wait for “evidence” that does not exist at the moment that uncertainties, like cloud feedback, will mitigate this imbalance or should mankind take control of its own future?
    3.  If there is a viable alternative, of course pro-mitigation people will go along with it.  As thingsbreak keeps saying, “show the math”.
    The middle ground between Romm and Watts is imaginary, it’s a pure numbers question.

  27. Keith Kloor says:

    The problem that mitigation-centric advocates refuse to acknowledge is that the “math” necessary to reduce carbon emissions does not square with the worldwide demand for energy.

    But aside from that, what we’re talking about here is the underlying motivation to get off carbon emissions. All the evidence suggests the the climate imperative argument is not carrying the day. BTW, Bill McKibben recognizes this, which is why he now talks about the need to mobilize people to bring political pressure.  Right now, there is no political downside to not acting on climate change. It’s not the kind of issue that excites people enough to march in the streets, etc. (Sorry, 360 people, one event a year won’t do the trick.)

    At any rate, McKibben has recognized this political reality and kudos for him for trying to act on it. Meanwhile, rhetoric alone isn’t going to propel action on climate change.

    Personally, I don’t think climate change is going to prove to be the kind of issue that gets people in the streets like the Civil war marches or anti-war demonstrations, etc. So if there is no mobilized political action, you mitigation-centric will still be flailing away at at this for the forseeable future.

    Hence, I’ll be curious to see when you raise the white flag and say, okay, I’m ready to try a new approach. Another five years of no action? Ten? Twenty?

  28. grypo says:

    The problem that mitigation-centric advocates refuse to acknowledge is that the “math” necessary to reduce carbon emissions does not square with the worldwide demand for energy.—

    You also have to take into account what the mitigation has largely given up on preventing  (Middle East Oil) and what it needs to take a firm stand on (Alberta tar sands/shale, coal w/o a carbon sequestering mechanism).  A carbon tax that both of those that is partly given back to the public in some way and funds the necessary infrastructure is baseline.  R & D, even if it used does not stop others from burning coal, and in fact, by reducing demand, you are making it cheaper (this depends on the ease in which it is extracted) and opening up new markets to use it.  Find me an R&D plan that prevents this.  Otherwise you are correct in assuming I (and I imagine a large section of the environmental base) may not be as supportive and the movement may likely not have the necessary political energy to pass.  The language we use and underlying motivations need to produce the necessary results.  I’m very skeptical of half-hearted approaches that kill any real movement for action in the future.   But if this R&D idea is a stepping-stone to something better, I’d likely get behind it, sort of.

    I think the question that the mitigation people need to ask themselves is “Does R&D do anything of consequence?” and If not, “Are we willing to wait for another opportunity and blow our chance to do anything?”  These are hard questions that need exact solutions to answer.  The problem is that R&D can’t provide exact answers, and this is a surrender.  I also still think we need time to figure how bad the death of cap&trade has set back the movement, and, secondly, we need to know how the upcoming elections effect it.

  29. AMac says:

    In setting up for this dialog, Keith’s post quoted a DotEarth reader who lamented poll results that showed “18% of Americans believe that President Obama is a Muslim.”  The highlighting of this nugget is often used as a proxy for “Stupid <i>rightwing</i> American SheepleVoters!”
     
    There’s another interpretation that’s stuck in my mind since hearing it on NPR (of all places); Google chases it down to conservative blogger “Allahpundit” —
     
    Essentially, when polling people who dislike candidate X, the specifics of the questions are almost irrelevant. As long as they’re negatively inclined “” e.g., ‘Is Obama a werewolf?’ “” you’ll get a certain core percentage willing to say yes.
     
    For the present discussion, this should be cause for optimism.  While many American voters have views that differ from yours or mine, this poll doesn’t show that one-fifth of them are unable to distinguish real concerns from fantastic ones.

  30. Keith Kloor says:

    AMac:

    For some historical perspective on irrational  fear and loathing of Democratic presidents by conservatives, see this recent piece–in a conservative publication.

  31. AMac says:

    KK @ 9:27am —
    Dinesh D’Souza tends towards the flaky, and his derivative analysis of Obama isn’t very accurate, IMO.  In recent times, the irrationality quota has been easily met by both left and right.  I still maintain that “18%” (right side only) is likely way too high.

  32. Keith Kloor says:

    AMac, the difference between the left and the right on this is the willingness of established pols on the Right to buy into and act on the flaky conspiracy theories (e.g. whitewater, Vince Foster, etc during Clinton administration).

  33. thingsbreak says:

    @kkloor:
    I’m talking about what should be the impetus behind an energy policy. Should it be the clarion call of climate doom, if carbon emissions aren’t reduced, or should it be a call for energy innovation?
    Which narrative do you prefer?
     
    Wow. Can anyone say “false dilemma”? Yes, fund clean energy. Yes, fund adaptation. Who is arguing against doing this?
     
    If you’re asking whether we “prefer” to completely decouple the clean energy argument from the “emissions driven climate change will have significantly negative consequences down the road” argument, I’m afraid I can’t do that *until some things are explained*. For one, if climate change is no longer a “problem” in your “narrative” why would people leave coal in the ground? What is the motivation for them to not burn it, export it, or turn it into synthetic gasoline?
     
    So if there is no mobilized political action, you mitigation-centric will still be flailing away at at this for the forseeable future.
    Hence, I’ll be curious to see when you raise the white flag and say, okay, I’m ready to try a new approach. Another five years of no action? Ten? Twenty?
     
    How is it a “new” approach to significantly reducing emissions, Keith? Why are you treating this as an alternative to the same problem, when no one can say how it’s supposed to actually address that problem?

  34. Keith,

    You ask: “I’ll be curious to see when you raise the white flag and say, okay, I’m ready to try a new approach. ”

    What new approach do you propose? Only betting on R&D is way too risky

    As for changing the rationale/narrative as to why changes are needed: Only emphasizing energy issues has a lot of risks as well (e.g. the coal issue as TB points out, but there are others, see the link I gave above).

    Changing the rationale to energy issues is basically taking steam of the pot, because fossil reserves are still plenty (except perhaps for oil, so finding a subsitute for oil or for the ICE would be the only urgent matter in that case).

    I’m not throwing away my old shoes when I don’t even know if there are new ones at all. It may be the last pair of shoes around so I damned well keep them on. Or to paraphrase TB: Show me some new pair of shoes and I’ll be all ears.

  35. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    Keith: I worry about this take on the new narrative: “Do you …  lead with  R & D approach, … which as Teryn outlined above, seems to get you broader buy-in from disparate parties and may help smooth the way for additional steps on the carbon reduction front?”
     
    This doesn’t sound like a new philosophy, but like a cynical bait and switch. We know we’re going to have to implement painful and costly emissions reduction, but it’s hard to sell that to the public honestly, so we’ll pretend to believe that we can solve climate change painlessly on the cheap with R&D subsidies. Then, after we’ve got the camel’s nose in the tent, we’ll break the bad news “down the road:” “Sorry, guys, but the boffins didn’t invent green energy too cheap to meter after all, so we’re going to have to take painful and expensive steps to reduce fossil fuel consumption.” (this is hyperbole; I realize that it only needs to be cheaper than coal)
     
    Good way to lose all credibility. If we know R&D won’t do the job all by itself, it’s better to be honest with the public from the get-go about this.

  36. Keith Kloor says:

    TB,

    It’s difficult to have a conversation with you on this because you refuse to acknowledge what I’m saying. There’s a meta narrative to the larger discourse that frames the public debate, which boiled down, is that we’re in for hell and high water unless action is taken. That’s the imperative. That’s the essential narrative. Yes, you see Romm et al talk about the need for innovation and so on. But that’s not what he writes about 80 percent of the time. Most of what he writes is about how the science and various events on the ground (floods, droughts, etc) are evidence that hell and high water is just around the corner. Now, in this case, I’m not just pointing to Romm because I have a particular issue with his rhetoric. On this, he’s just reflective of the narrative that everyone else in the climate concerned community has bought into.

    I’m arguing that this isn’t getting you to where you want to go. You won’t even debate this with me. Instead you keep wanting to have a debate about the economic/policy merits of the two approaches: cap and trade/carbon policy vs energy innovation.

    That’s a debate I’m all for having. But it’s the rationales underlying these two approaches that interests me and which I’ve been posting about.

    It’s fruitless going back and forth with you on this if you don’t acknowledge what my argument is.

     

  37. Keith Kloor says:

    Bart (35):

    I don’t know about your or anyone else, but I tend to wear shoes way beyond their lifespan because it’s easier than buying another pair and I get so used to them.

    Jonathan (36):

    I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, If you can’t go over the fence, go under it. You can’t get over the fence with the current approach to climate change.

    I don’t see the alternative approach as a bait and switch. I see it as a different path to get you to the same place you want to go. I’m fine with arguing with whether that different path will lead you there any more than the other one. But I see no willingness on the part of you or Bart or TB or Joe Romm to look in the mirror and ask whether the underlying rationale–the narrative of hell and high water–is a winning one.

  38. thingsbreak says:

    Keith,
     
    You’re asking people to debate the prospects of changing “the narrative” from climatic consequences to clean energy pursuit.
    Many of us are telling you that, on its merits, the latter idea isn’t a viable alternative because (as far as anyone can ascertain) it won’t do the job it’s purporting to do.
     
    What do you want us to say? Are we supposed to lie and say, “Sure, it’s a great idea to ignore the thing that we’re actually worried about (climatic consequences potentially unprecedented in the recent geological record) in favor of a ‘narrative’ about something that doesn’t actually address the thing we’re worried about”?
     
    Irrespective of the climatic consequences, we should be pursuing clean energy R&D. No one is arguing otherwise. But if the question is *what should the narrative be in terms of addressing climatic consequences of energy use* in order to get us to buy into the “breakthrough” scheme’s narrative, we need to at least be able to articulate how it’s going to address that problem. Otherwise, it’s pixie dust.
     
    I’m not saying I won’t jump on the breakthrough narrative bandwagon. I absolutely will. In fact, I’m dying to. Someone help me do it!

  39. Keith,

    Perhaps the current strategy is the worst, besides all other ones.

    As Jonathan wrote, pretending it’s not gonna cost us is like throwing fairy dust. If people don’t accept that, then perhaps we’re screwed. You’re asking us to accept the fact that we’re screwed. We’re not. We’ll keep trying to turn the tide.

    If  there’s another way to get emissions reduced, I’m all ears. R&D without implementation is like putting all our effort in a lottery. We may be lucky of course, but…

  40. Tom Fuller says:

    Keith, sorry to pile on a bit here, but I think we need to frame the next meta narrative using as guides the thoughts and writings from those in the middle of either camp, rather than those at the extreme. Instead of Dinesh D’Souza writings, look at Ross Douthat. Instead of Joe Romm, use Bart Verheggen.
     
    As someone who has been arguing for over a year that we should be looking at energy first, the reason is very clear. We have two problems: energy and climate change. We know very clearly what needs to be done about energy. We are not clear on what should be done about climate change.
     
    Much more importantly, if we do everything needed to resolve climate change, it is very possible that we will still have the same energy problem, and it is distinctly possible that it will be worse.
     
    The converse is not true. If we commit to solving our energy problem responsibly, as opposed to throwing coal at it, we will also solve our climate change issue.
     
    I cannot think of a simpler argument. We need an incredible amount of new energy by 2050, far more than the DOE estimates. If we provide it with coal we will choke on the fumes long before we notice the effects of global warming. If we provide it cleanly, we will also mitigate whatever global warming there may be.
     
    This should have been our argument for the past 10 years, instead of fighting over how many polar bears can dance on the head of a pin.
     
    But it’s never too late.

  41. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Keith if I understand you correctly, you’re essentially echoing S&N ‘death of environmentalism’ mantra that framing environmental issues in terms of positive aspirational goals is more effective politically than frames that are ‘doom and gloom’.  On this point I would agree.  Fear isn’t a great motivator.  And that is precisely why advocates and pols in favor of C&T and other climate mitigation policies alway frame the costs and benefits in terms of green jobs, energy independence, well-being of our children etc…
     
    The reason that the current approach has failed has nothing IMO to do with the narrative and everything to do with bad luck/timing (i.e. the current economic circumstances (people are less inclined to support environmetnal issues during economic downturns) and the utter dysfunction that exists in u.s. federal politics at the moment.
     
    As Bart says above, if R&D is all we can hope for at the present, then so be it.  But let’s not pretend that the job of avoiding significant climate disruption  won’t also be more difficult down the road.
     
    A final note, framing the issue in terms of energy independence (which is a popular tactic in the U.S. at the moment) is a little problematic from a climate change perspective because one of the most cost effective strategies in light of looming peak oil is coal-to-liquids, which makes the oil sands look clean by comparison…

  42. PDA says:

    Keith, I don’t necessarily accept your frame that the “narrative” is the, or even a significant, stumbling block to effective climate policy. It seems like there are differing stumbling blocks: entrenched interests in the energy industry, political wrangling between the US, the EU, China and the developing world, and decentralized but deliberate and persistent spreading of doubt by politicians and pundits. Against that backdrop, Joe Romm’s blog posts don’t even register.

    I’m sorry, but it seems like a simple false syllogism: A therefore B, where B is “stalled policy and political action on climate change” and A is “Joe Romm is a douchebag.”

  43. Shub says:

    So,….the hell and high water thing is just …..a narrative?

    KK, I hope you realize how momentous what you have achieved at this point of time is.

  44. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    Keith:
     
    Let’s look at three other fraught policy questions: California’s economy, the national obesity epidemic, and teen pregnancy.
     
    California faces a similar problem as with climate: people largely acknowledge that there’s a problem, but are unwilling to either raise taxes or cut government services. One could propose a new narrative by which the budget could be balanced while expanding services and cutting taxes, and it would probably get a lot more support from the public than either drastic cuts in services or large tax hikes, but that wouldn’t make it the best approach to take unless we could show that the new narrative was founded on sound economics.
     
    It’s important not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good (in other words, a good enough climate policy that we can enact is infinitely better than a perfect policy that dies in committee), but it’s also important not to mix our priorities up to the extent that the goal becomes passing a bill rather than what the bill actually accomplishes. There’s a sweet spot between too little compromise and too much.
     
    Obesity: As with budgets, people acknowledge that there’s an obesity problem but aren’t willing or able to adjust their diets. Should we give up on trying to persuade people eat better diets or should we push a new narrative in which we focus on developing a pill that lets you supersize everything without getting sick?
     
    Teen pregnancy: here’s a case where a new narrative framework is a success: abstinence-only programs to prevent pregnancy fail. An approach based on providing education and contraceptive technology really does work better.

    So it seems that to you, Bart, TB, Romm, and I all sound like abstinence-only zealots refusing to consider whether a more pragmatic sex ed curriculum would be better suited to real-world teens while my fellow travelers and I think you sound like someone who thinks we can balance budgets without cutting spending or raising taxes or who prefers searching for the perfect diet pill to the pain of saying, “No, I don’t want fries with that.”
     
    I’m very much with TB  and Bart here: the narrative should be driven by a sound empirical underpinning. It shouldn’t just be a matter of what’s polls well, although of course, it must also poll well  to be viable. That’s why this thread feels to me a bit like a Dilbert comic where the marketing guys are deciding how to sell the product before the engineers have figured out whether they can make it work.
     
    Show me a solid case that R&D can make substantial penetration into the market without pricing carbon emissions and I’ll be very receptive to jumping onto the new bandwagon.
     
    That’s why I’m less interested in the question of narrative philosophy than in digging into the vast literature on innovation from the last several decades, particularly work  by Lew Branscomb and people in his circle on the “Valley of Death” in which many innovations die as they make the transition from laboratory prototype to commercial product.
     
    There’s a fair bit of work that suggests a valley of death is inevitable when new technology crosses over from government-funded R&D (and yes, Tom Yulsman (#11), I know about the “D” part of R&D, but in government funding the “D” generally means developing prototypes, not bringing a product to market) to private sector product-development. Part of this gap may be an inevitable consequence of a mismatch between the social goals of publicly funded R&D and the profit goals of the private sector.  A good cautionary tale would be the PNGV program which spent seven years and billions of dollars developing new fuel-efficient automobiles, none of which ever came to market.
     
    So before I wave my white flag, I want to critically evaluate the substance of this new paradigm. Vague descriptions and aspirations aren’t persuasive enough.

  45. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    To follow up on my previous post: When I talk about the Valley of Death, it’s not with a sense that it means clean energy R&D can’t work, but that we have to understand how the Valley applies to clean-energy technology and to have a real strategy for bridging it.

  46. Keith Kloor says:

    Jonathan, Bart: I’ve asked Teryn Norris (who is quoted in the post) to jump in here and address your points.

    As I said to him in an email, I can provide the (modest) forum for this debate to happen, but I’m not going to argue his/their position for them. That’s not in my job definition. 🙂

    I’ll also email the other primary folks from Breakthrough, Brookings and AEI, who were involved in putting that white paper out, and see if they want to jump in.

    The debate has to be a two way street, involving not just policy papers, but actual exchanges.

  47. Keith Kloor says:

    On a related note, here’s Tom Yulsman’s take on a story published today in the NYT.

  48.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czvxyDgqxmM
    Lyrics : David Gray Lyrics : Draw the Line Album : Full Steam
    Full Steam Lyrics – David Gray

    All our lives we’ve dreamed about it
    Just to find that it was never real
    Coming closer each turn of the wheel
    Forlorn, adrift on seas of beige
    In this our Golden Age
    Even in our darkest hour
    Never thought that it could get so bad
    Bullied, suckered, pimped and patronised
    Every day your tawdry little lives
    So loose your head
    And step within
    The silence deafening
    Now you saw it coming
    And I saw it coming
    We all saw it coming
    But we still bought it
    You saw it coming
    And I saw it coming but still
    Running full steam ahead
    In and out of consciousness
    It breaks my heart to see you like this
    Crying, wringing hands and cursing fate
    Always so little far too late
    It’s 3am I’m wide awake
    There’s still one call to make, one call
    Now you saw it coming
    And I saw it coming
    We all saw it coming
    But we still bought it
    You saw it coming
    And I saw it coming
    We all saw it coming
    But we still bought it
    Running full steam ahead
    Running full steam ahead
    Running full steam
    Gonna cover my eyes, gonna cover my eyes
    Runnin’ full steam, yeah
    Now you saw it coming
    And I saw it coming
    We all saw it coming
    But we still bought it
    You saw it coming
    And I saw it coming
    We all saw it coming
    But we still bought it
    _end_

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, est. 2001
    Chapel Hill, NC
    http://sustainabilityscience.org/content.html?contentid=1176
    http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/
    http://www.panearth.org/

  49. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Jonathan,
     
    You should start a blog :).  Very well said in your last post.

  50. Tom Fuller gets things wrong here to first order, by elementary confusion of the main issues.
     
    We do not have two problems, we have three. Two of them are immediate and one is very long term. In the very long term we have to move to 100% renewable energy sources because nonrenewables will get used up. At that point, as Tom suggests, there will no longer be a CO2 problem.
     
    But that point is very far away. New fossil fuel supplies are becoming available: gas from fractionation, oil from tar sands, potentially gas from clathrate deposits. By most accounts there is plenty of plain ordinary coal around as well, though the best stuff is all dug up.
     
    The immediate problems are 1) liquid fuel infrastructure and 2) environmental impacts, especially climate disruption. If it weren’t for #2 the economic solution to #1 would be to develop the new fossil sources as quickly as possible, along with chemical infrastructure to convert the solids and gases to liquids. Given 2, the best solution is to move off liquid fuels to the extent possible and provide the balance (mostly for airplanes) with biofuels. These are very different trajectories, and in practice they compete directly.
     
    I wonder if this level of confusion pervades the Breakthrough community.
     

  51. On a related note, the quality of thought of tea party leaders on these matters is indeed worthy of a story in the Times.
     

  52. Zajko says:

    I like Tom Fuller’s post (40) above, and while I think some of the responses here show that “what needs to be done about energy” isn’t totally clear, it’s still a much more straight-forward argument with broader support than the climate change one (which it happens to deal with as well).
    There is a risk of the R&D narrative being co-opted by interests who see it as a cheaper way of greenwashing their image, but that also gives it greater buy-in. Doom & gloom might still work if we had a Greenland/Antarctic ice sheet collapse and a few months of killer heat and fire in the northern hemisphere, but that’s nothing to bank on in the next few years. Short of that, the argument seems to have run its course. I’m just hoping the focus on energy redevelopment can begin without an equivalent economic catastrophe in energy prices.

  53. willard says:

    Lewis,
     
    The word “despodency” justifies all by itself reading this thread.  (I thought “corrupace” did it, but can’t find the definition.)  All the other comments are very good too and add a very, very large bonus.
     
    To treat actual feelings of despodency,  my bibliotherapeutic suggestion (already told to MT) is to read or reread **Hamlet**.
     
    For a more professional advice, please inquire into the **School of Life**:

    http://www.theschooloflife.com/

  54. Steve Bloom says:

    Jonathan:  “Teen pregnancy: here’s a case where a new narrative framework is a success: abstinence-only programs to prevent pregnancy fail. An approach based on providing education and contraceptive technology really does work better.”

    Going back about 30 years, abstinence-only was the new paradigm intended to counter the already-existing one of education and contraceptives.  IMHO that makes for an even better analogy for this discussion. 

  55. Tom,

    I think it’s the converse of what you say:
    if we do everything needed to resolve the energy issues, it is very possible that we will still have the same climate change.
     
    Because the air pollution problems with coal can probably be solved using appropriate filters; the local land degradation is not something many people care about (because it’s local). I.e. climate, not energy, is the overriding reason for keeping coal and unconventional fossil fuels in the ground.

  56. Keith Kloor says:

    Marlowe (41), you write: “The reason that the current approach has failed has nothing IMO to do with the narrative and everything to do with bad luck/timing (i.e. the current economic circumstances (people are less inclined to support environmetnal issues during economic downturns) and the utter dysfunction that exists in u.s. federal politics at the moment.”

    Firstly, that explanation only pertains to the U.S.–and guess what–there’s never going to be a good time, at least not in the near future. See that NYT story by John Broder from today. If a majority of those Republican candidates with such an open hostility to climate science take office, it’s curtains for cap and trade for at least several more U.S. election cycles.

    Secondly, how do you explain the lack of progress on the international level? What responsible for that?

     

  57. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Keith,
    Are we in agreement then wrt the causes of failure of C&T policy at the federal level in the U.S.?
     
    Also, as I’m sure you’re well aware substantially more progress is being made in other jurisdictions (e.g. Germany, UK) although as RPJr would say the prospect of reaching short and medium-term targets is slim.  That doesn’t invalidate the instrument of choice.  Just that we may need to recalibrate our expectations about the feasibility of reaching targets that were derived through political negotiations (i.e. U.S. said 5% below 1990 in Kyoto, Canada said oh yeah, well we’re going to go 6% below).
     
    That progress has been slow in most western countries and developing countries alike is in some part due to the lack of leadership by the U.S. at the federal level.  I don’t see how you could argue otherwise given the unique status that the U.S. has in the world.  Is it the only reason or even the most important factor? No.  International cooperation on any issue is difficult.  Law of the jungle and all that.
    To put it more bluntly in response to your question, I would say that lack of progress on the international level is a direct result of me not being appointed the supreme leader of all creation back in 1988.

  58. Andy says:

    Keith,
    I guess I don’t understand why it has to be either/or or why narratives must necessarily switch.  I would think that building support for a serious change is policy will require multiple narratives to satisfy multiple audiences.
     
    In essence, I doubt there is “one narrative to rule them all” that can deliver public support on climate policy.  The failure of the the “climate concerned” (or whatever the label du jour is) to effect policy is not the wrong narrative – rather it is overemphasis (to put it mildly) on one narrative to the exclusion of others.  Instead of switching narratives and lines of argument, what we need is more diversity.  Policy change will require a coalition of interests and coalitions are not built by narrow and inflexible ideological approaches.
     
    Therefore, I submit that promotion of a decarbonization policy needs to be diversified. One still must satisfy those who are primarily concerned about mitigating potential future catastrophic events – there’s no need to completely ditch that narrative completely.  However,  those concerned about energy security, economic security, jobs, etc. must also be brought aboard.
     
    In short, a decarbonization could be a big-tent policy objective, but it’s going to take a holistic approach a recognition that it will require satisfying a diverse set of interests.  Unfortunately I think some time does need to pass to let the all the recently-shed bad blood dissipate somewhat.  I also suspect that some of the most partisan players on both sides are more probably more interested in slaying ideological demons than in promoting actual policy.  That’s a tough challenge to overcome.

  59. Keith Kloor says:

    Andy (58):

    That’s an excellent critique. In a perfect world, you’re right, there need not be a dominant narrative. But that’s not how the public debate is conducted, nor how the imperative for action is sold.

    So in theory, I agree that there are multiple “frames” for decarbonization that can attract broader buy-in: health, environment, national security, etc. But the one that dominates the discourse is climate doom and the mechanism for averting it being cap and trade and/or carbon tax.

    The advocates for the other approach put forward a different paradigm to address both climate change and the need for more (and cheaper) energy. They argue its time for a new direction. I’ve alerted the wonks who wrote the Breakthrough/AEI/Brookings proposal and told them there’s a spirited debate going on here.

    It remains to be seen whether they feel comfortable enough with this particular forum to respond.

  60. laursaurus says:

    “AMac, the difference between the left and the right on this is the willingness of established pols on the Right to buy into and act on the flaky conspiracy theories (e.g. whitewater, Vince Foster, etc during Clinton administration)”
    The right is more prone to buying into conspiracy theories?
    The 9/11 Truth Movement and the JFK assassination are conspiracies theories from the left that knock your examples out of the park. The truly unfortunate aspect of liberal conspiracy theories is they are infused into the pop culture via block buster films and viral internet movies. But these are far more damaging to society because they have effectively re-written our history. Currently, Hollywood and the liberal MSM are working double time to disparage the Tea Party Movement mainly because competitor Fox News supported this political movement. Just a matter of time before they will be implicated in some conspiratorial misdeed even if only in big budget movie. (Coming soon at a theater near you!)
    I think you’re a good guy, Keith. Like the Tea Party Movement, you operate within our democratic political system using the liberties protected by the First Amendment. But we all wind up sipping the Kool-aide that tends to impair our vision when it comes to recognizing the flaws on our own team. A lot more individuals were sucked into the theory that the Bush Administration had a hand in 9/11. It was nearly 1/3 of the US population back in 2006. That is evidence of mass hallucination which is much more disturbing than the clueless 10% of the population who probably never paid any attention to what religion the president practices. How else could they not be aware that he’s a Christian? The right-wingers paid too much attention to the Reverend Wright controversy, remember? Every painfully time-consuming speech the man gives mentions God (not Allah). When he gave that recent speech about the BP oil spill, it wasn’t just the enviromentalists who felt slighted. The atheists, particularly on PZ Myers blog, were offended when he said something about us all praying to the same God, even if we use different names. Some of them fantasized that he was a closet atheist up until that point. Yes, that’s right! The godless liberals would have mis-identified Obama as one of their brethren had the poll question been framed with just that one minor change.

  61. PDA says:

    The 9/11 Truth Movement and the JFK assassination are conspiracies theories from the left that knock your examples out of the park


    Keith’s point was about “the willingness of established pols on the Right to buy into and act on the flaky conspiracy theories,” not random people on the street. Who is the Democratic equivalent of Senator James Mountain “Jim” Inhofe (R-OK)?

  62. laursaurus says:

    Who is the Democratic equivalent of Senator James Mountain “Jim” Inhofe (R-OK)?
    Hello???
    Al Gore single-handedly politicized Climate Change, aka Global Warming. Mr. Anti-corporate Crusader couldn’t care less about his own carbon footprint. He was driven by greed, pure and simple. He bet the farm on passing C&T, poised to make billions. . Thank God someone revealed how this Democrat was intentionally fudging the science to play on our worst fears purely for his own financial gain. Co-opting the environmentalist movement to generate personal wealth is what hopelessly damaged the cause. History has shown once again that the doomsday narrative rightly warrants skepticism. From gross factual errors in AIT to refusal to comply with FOIA, nobody is buying it. Taking action against climate change must gain bi-partisan support. Seriously, if you could get the Tea Party to support enacting energy policy, it would have a decent shot.
    Hint: figure out how going green could lower taxes.

  63. PDA says:

    Wow, I had no idea Al Gore was a JFK buff. And a Truther too? Do you think he’s LIHOP or MIHOP?

  64. Ed Forbes says:

    Keith Kloor Says:
    October 21st, 2010 at 7:19 am
    “..Should it be the clarion call of climate doom, if carbon emissions aren’t reduced, or should it be a call for energy innovation? Which narrative do you prefer?..”

    You lose me on the “climate doom”, but we can talk on “energy innovation”.

  65. Keith Kloor says:

    Laursaurus (62), if you wanted to get worked up over a real issue, not a Gore bogeyman of your imagination, you could start with this, and it’s a bipartisan plague too.

  66. Alternative proposals for what, exactly?
     
    I am with ThingsBreak. The problem of interest is setting up a reasonably acceptable way of keeping the carbon in the ground, or failing that, using it and then putting it back in the ground.
     
    Proposals which address the need not to have extra carbon extracted and sloshing around the air and the ocean are responsive to the failures to move toward this goal over the past twenty years.
     
    Proposals which are tangential to that goal may or may not be good proposals, but if they don’t keep carbon in the ground they are not relevant. They don’t provide us with anything better than keeping going with what we have been doing until people understand it. It probably won’t work for another twenty years at least, but eventually it will work because (unfortunately for all of us, apparently) Nature bats last.
     

  67. Keith Kloor says:

    This piece in Grist by Robert Stavins echoes what Andy, Jonathan Gilligan and others on this thread have been saying.

  68. Andy says:

    Keith,
     
    I admit there is some truth to your counterargument about a “perfect world.”   However, we also need to consider time frames.  I think there is something to be said for a slow approach utilizing “creeping normalcy” as much as possible.  I’m no political scientist, but it seems to me that absent a clear and present crisis creeping normalcy is how major change actually comes about in most cases.
     
    So my criticism of the strategy over the past decade would really be two-fold:  First, overemphasis on one narrative and second, trying to do too much, too soon.
     
    And just to be clear, what I’m saying here is more analysis than advocacy.  I would like to see change happen faster on a number of issues, including climate change, but I just don’t think it’s possible and to believe otherwise is wishful thinking.

  69. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Keith,
     
    Any word from any of the post-partisan authors to your request? The dearth of responses from them in the blogosphere is surprising…

  70. Keith Kloor says:

    Marlowe,

    I’ve gotten one response out of four from the four authors of the white paper, and that one showed no interest. I try not to read too much into non-responsiveness, as people have busy lives and sometimes an email out of the blue from a reporter/blogger isn’t tops on their list.

    That said, it’s probably the case that they have little interest in exchanging in a blogospheric dialogue, for the same reasons that most climate scientists, archaeologists, ecologists I know shy away from this kind of forum: they’re not comfortable with it. Same goes for Jonathan Gilligan’s and Roger Pielke Jr.s’ colleagues.

    We have to remember that the level of engagement from the Judith Curry’s and Gavin Schmidts (and RPJ and Gilligan) on blogs is pretty rare. So while I’m disappointed the authors of the paper have not dived into this conversation, I can’t say I’m surprised and I don’t hold it against them.

  71. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Keith,
     
    I agree, but given the lack of details in the report it’s nonetheless surprising that they haven’t engaged in any follow up discussion elaborating on their proposal (not just on blogs, but interviews, journals, etc.).  Although in fairness maybe those are in the cards at some point in the future…

  72. Keith cites a DotEarth reader:

    “It seems like we need to change the subject and develop a narrative about why it’s a positive thing to move to a green energy future and economy; it’s not only for climate.”

    The UNEP has an app for that, it’s called the IPBES.

    Move over IPCC … here comes IPBES

  73. keith kloor says:

    Andy Revkin has a post on the post-partisan power approach and the latest “ripples” in the debate.

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