Planet Gore

Bubba owns up to economic costs of climate-change legislation.

With my internet in rural Virginia finally back up … again … for now … I see that Planet Gore has had a lively debate today on ethanol and flexible-fuel mandates. I hope to chime in at some point . . . but at the moment I can’t resist noting Bill Clinton’s most recent re-insertion of himself into the presidential campaign.
Bubba claims that “We Just Have to Slow Down Our Economy” to fight global warming.
This candor harkens back to an even more bizarre, if similar, comment Joseph Lieberman made during a 2003 Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing. According to colleagues who were in the room (I have not located a hearing transcript) Lieberman explained away 2002 temperatures not having been as warm as some advocates had predicted with the rationale that, well, the economy had slowed down. Ah!
The issue of the climate’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases is actually a raging debate that is trending toward a much weaker sensitivity than the IPCC and their ilk argue (approximately one-third as strong). But even proponents of climate hypersensitivity would balk at Lieberman’s suggestion of a climate so remarkably responsive. Perhaps the candidates who agree with Lieberman might like to ask voters in what year they best liked the weather. Then they could cap economic activity at the corresponding previous year’s level.
Joking aside, each candidate should be asked for a substantive response to the former president’s argument, which makes the climate realists’ case for them that “doing something” about global warming means significant economic pain. Meanwhile, all those urging us to “do something” can point to not one proposal ever tabled that would yield demonstrable climatic gains.
At the very least, Clinton’s admission should mute Democratic complaints about the economic disaster that the Bush presidency has inflicted on the country. Dubya can just say he did it for the polar bears, as his candidate critics suggest economic stimulus plans . . . for America’s competitors.

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