Hot & Bothered

In this week’s New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg sizes up President Obama’s most talked about feint in last week’s State of the Union address and declares it a a masterly exercise in rear-guard tactics disguised as visionary optimism. A section was devoted to fighting climate change, but under an assumed name: “clean-energy technology,” for which he proposed new public investments “that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.” (The second of that trio of goals was as close as he came to pronouncing the dread words.) He set a goal of generating eighty per cent of America’s electricity from “clean-energy sources” by 2035. Even as he called for a review of “unnecessary” regulations, he declared that he “will not hesitate to create or enforce common-sense safeguards to protect the American people,” an apparent reference to the E.P.A.’s ambitious plans to limit carbon-dioxide emissions. And he called on Congress “to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies,” the grotesque pastiche of tax expenditures that subsidize oil over other, less harmful sources of energy. The President has not, in fact, given up on doing something about climate change. If he holds firm, perhaps his efforts will yet make a difference. But Mother Nature is growing impatient, and she has a hot temper.

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The same can be said for some climate bloggers, who seem to be growing crankier by the day.

3 Responses to “Hot & Bothered”

  1. Jonathan Gilligan says: I am reminded of the engineering dictum: “fast, cheap, good: pick two”
    Clean, cheap, jobs: pick two. By shifting the policy debate away from the “clean” attribute, Obama may well find that dirty fossil based energy will produce more jobs and cheaper energy than clean alternatives. Unless we have a reason to prioritize the “clean” attribute, and unless we emphasize that reason so people are fully aware of the importance of making energy clean—even if it costs more or produces fewer jobs—then the “clean” part will be lost altogether when it’s time to make tough policy choices. I have yet to hear a satisfactory refutation of this from the Break Through crowd.

  2. Shub says: If those who are skeptical of the climate change threat, point out that ‘clean energy’ is just a proxy for Kyoto, they are paranoid cranks, jumping at bogeymen
    If those who are skeptical of the ‘clean energy’ approach actually doing anything for the supposed climate change threat, they are cranks.
  3. Shub says: If those who are skeptical that the “˜clean energy’ approach will actually do anything for the supposed climate change threat, they are cranks.

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