Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Utopia (thankfully) Averted

Did you read Walter Russell Mead's excellent article on the failure of Al Gore? Mead hits the nail squarely on the head:

You can be a leading environmentalist and fail to pay all of your taxes. You can be a leading environmentalist and be unkind to your aged mother. You can be a leading environmentalist and squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle, park in the handicapped spots at the mall or scribble angry marginal notes in library books.

But you cannot be a leading environmentalist who hopes to lead the general public into a long and difficult struggle for sacrifice and fundamental change if your own conduct is so flagrantly inconsistent with the green gospel you profess. If the heart of your message is that the peril of climate change is so imminent and so overwhelming that the entire political and social system of the world must change, now, you cannot fly on private jets. You cannot own multiple mansions. You cannot even become enormously rich investing in companies that will profit if the policies you advocate are put into place.

It is not enough to buy carbon offsets (aka “indulgences”) with your vast wealth, not enough to power your luxurious mansions with exotic low impact energy sources the average person could not afford, not enough to argue that you only needed the jet so that you could promote your earth-saving film.

In Part II there's this, the crux of the biscuit:
Gore’s failures are not just about leadership. The strategic vision he crafted for the global green movement has comprehensively failed. That is no accident; the entire green policy vision was so poorly conceived, so carelessly constructed, so unbalanced and so rife with contradictions that it could only thrive among activists and enthusiasts. Once the political power of the climate movement, aided by an indulgent and largely unquestioning press, had pushed the climate agenda into the realm of serious politics, failure was inevitable. The only question was whether the comprehensive green meltdown would occur before or after the movement achieved its core political goal of a comprehensive and binding global agreement on greenhouse gasses....

...To make the case for a proposition like this, one needs to make the following argument: that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high, that the proposed measures are both feasible and effective, and that there are no easier or cheaper methods of accomplishing the goal. This is no special set of high hurdles invented for the purpose of frustrating the greens; it is the basic test that any proposal in any arena must pass.

Carbon regulation only sounded good as a vague concept. When you get down to it, corporations and people are the same - they aren't going to change their way of life unless compelled to do so by a significant force.

Carbon trading and regulation wasn't a nudge in the right direction. In order to work it would have to be a club, coming down to smite anyone who resisted. A nudge would have been a business expense. In order to work, carbon regulation would have to crush whole industries.

It was funny that Obama called for America to "up your game" while touring Alcoa Aluminum. Aluminum production is one of the most energy intensive industries you'll find. Given a free hand in the matter, Obama would would make aluminum a metal for the rich. They'd have aluminum walking sticks and monocles, we'd have stories for the grandkids about how we used to drink soda from aluminum cans.

I shudder to think what Obama and the EPA would do if given a free hand. Thankfully we took the House, and are in a position to cut funding to the stupidest of ideas. Now if we can take back the Senate and the presidency we can begin the task of undoing this blasted utopia.