The Corner

Climate Change: Is There Anything It Can’t Do?

So I’m just back from a week in Germany, having spent a useful week touring alternative-energy projects (including the fusion reactor project of the Max Planck Institute, still decades away from working as hoped, but very cool nonetheless), and talking with various German officials and unofficials about climate and energy policy. Everyone is Obama-crazy in Germany; every shopkeeper, beer-hoister, and pretzel-monger wanted to give a shout-out to the New Messiah.

Had one good meeting with a provincial environment minister–a very impressive young lady who should go far in German national politics if she wants to, in the CDU (the right-leaning party, such as it is there). She (and other officials) were quite clear that Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2020 is going to have to be rescinded. After having my fill of nothing but climate issues, I decided to ask, since her department dealt with the environment as a whole and not just climate, whatother environmental issues in Germany she thought were important.

“Well, we are doing a lot of work on flooding–flooding brought on by climate change.” So you really can’t change the subject after all.

Me: “What else? Forests? Toxic waste? Traditional air pollution?”

The minister: “Noise pollution. About 50 percent of our citizens say they are concerned about noise pollution.” The rest presumably are listening to their iPods and don’t hear the noise pollution.

Seems to me that when a rich country is worried about noise pollution, their major environmental problems are solved.

Steven F. Hayward — Mr. Hayward is the author of The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counter-Revolution, 1980–1989.

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