The Campaign Spot

The Joy of Climate Change

In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, I have a piece on the joy of climate change, or at least the little-discussed benefits to the United States if climate change occurs as projected.

Our current blazingly hot summer is spurring another go-round of exhausted arguments about climate change, whether it is “real” and “is it man-made?”

Ideally, the national discussion would move past those questions. Whether the phenomenon is exaggerated or whatever the cause, the uncomfortable fact is that very few climate scientists believe that the process is significantly reversible, and certainly not by unilateral U.S. action. As the Heartland Institute’s James Taylor noted in Forbes, data released by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year indicate that even if the United States and the entire Western Hemisphere immediately and completely eliminated all carbon dioxide emissions, the growth in Chinese emissions alone would likely render this action moot within a decade.

Anyone who suggests that the climate will go back to “normal” – whatever that is – if Congress passes a certain bill or if you drive a different car is trying to sell you something. The current debate is mostly an excuse for those who make certain consumer choices (Priuses, reusable shopping bags, buying “carbon offsets”) to talk about how much more responsible and sensitive they are than others, and for those who choose differently to urge them to put a sock in it.

As President Obama and his aspiring replacements grapple with how to handle this emotional issue, they have left one avenue largely unexplored: the often-ignored fact that climate change will help the U.S. economy in several ways and enhance, not diminish, the United States’ geopolitical power.

Of course, discussing the American benefits of climate change is so contradictory to “the narrative” and conventional wisdom that it probably leads to heads exploding, and/or will probably fuel overseas conspiracy theories that climate change is a vast American plot to strengthen ourselves at the expense of the Third World. Perhaps this reflects time spent overseas, but in the end, every modern phenomenon becomes interpreted as a vast American plot to strengthen ourselves at the expense of the Third World.

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