The Corner

Canary Bears Cont’d

That reminds me, here’s an excerpt from a small piece I did for NR last July:

Global-warming skeptics are caught in an awkward Catch-22. If they concede that the earth is getting warmer because of human activity (as most do; the debate is over how much and whether it’s dangerous), they empower the greens who own this issue. The problem is that many of these greens are actually what the Brits like to call “watermelons” — green on the outside, red on the inside. They assume that any serious problem requires economic planning and “collective action.”

Conservatives should reject such intellectual base-stealing. Let’s concede for the sake of argument that global warming threatens us in the long run. Do we really think the EPA and the U.N. bureaucracy are the people to stop it? When various societies faced extinction because of over-hunting, the ones that invented animal husbandry and switched from hunting to farming survived. Sure, some Gore-like tribal leaders might have said, “We must eat less deer,” but the smart money was on raising your own livestock. Global-warming alarmists love the self-flagellation that comes with declaring human beings in general and capitalistic Western civilization in particular to be the problem. They’re less keen on admitting that they might be the solution as well.

Rather than throw a wet blanket on the wealth creation and intellectual vitality that come with markets, why not take a fraction of the billions greens want to spend on mandatory CO2 caps and announce a Kennedyesque plan to create technologies that will mitigate global warming — should it prove to be a problem — by the middle of the century?

The National Academy of Sciences has recently broached the topic, asking scientists to investigate “geo-engineering.” We could create orbital mirrors to deflect sunlight, bio-engineer algae to gobble up carbon, or put additives in jet fuel that would cool the atmosphere. “We should treat these ideas like any other research and get into the mindset of taking them seriously,” Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the NAS, recently told the New York Times. How people react to such ideas could help us distinguish between the greens and the watermelons.