Sunday, March 01, 2009
George F. Will and Global Smarmy
I'm temped to post about global warming and the recent torrent of pubic outcry out the last two columns by George F. Will of the Washington Post. I just posted a note on Grist, a very green blog, that they missed the point and inadvertently allowed George to win the argument.
We all think that George is something of a skeptic, although his antiquated views shouldn't be a threat to the effort to educate folks about climate change - which most everyone will say is happening. But his main point was that each side has a certain orthodoxy about what to think, and anybody who disagrees with them are considered insane. He brought up the media articles done back in the 1970s that in very alarmist terms, said the Earth was going to freeze over solid.
Naturally the "greens" responded with reams of information, studies, and "proof" that George F. Will was a lying, insane skeptic. Some of the responses such as by Joseph Romm were so rabid and over the top they were comical. The facts are, George F. Will might have a limited understanding of the science and got things slightly wrong in a citation (he proves where he got the information though), but his points about alarmism, extremism, and orthodoxy were pretty much right on target.
The mistake was the greens who went on the attack failed to convince anybody but themselves and only served to illustrate what George was saying. Instead of trying to work with folks to calmly educate them and lead them down the path to understanding how global warming works, they screamed, shouted, and revolted, nearly foaming at the mouth. It's almost like a "dictatorship of the nerds." It's was almost embarrassing to watch them struggle to reclaim the high ground.
This is important because while public opinion puts global warming at the bottom of the top ten national priorities, Americans are fairly divided about being for or against the concept of global warming, very similar to the recent Presidential election results. President Obama intends to float initiatives for low-carbon vehicle standards and a cap & trade program for large industries, ones that have to be voted up or down in Congress. That's why this fight is so important.
Perhaps things just aren't going very well for the greens these days. The economy dominates the media and a recession had put off some construction plans for clean power. Obama's plans for investing in mass transit and "green jobs" were drastically scaled back - which was as if it was a slap in the face. And George F. Will won the debate on his own grounds because he took the high road and acted calm.
I guess I'll leave you with my perspective. If you reduce energy consumption that will save you BIG BUCKS. If one can harness solar, wind, and water power and make that competitive, that will also save money, especially if fossil fuel costs race skyward again. The US could save about 30 percent of its power costs simply by improving efficiency and that saves a ton of money. Oh and by the way, when you do that, CO2 emissions will also go down about 30 percent, not a bad side effect. I think that's the right direction to go.