Wall Street Journal: Fred Krupp: A New Climate-Change Consensus
It's time for conservatives to compete with liberals to devise the best, most cost-effective climate solutions.
... For too long, the U.S. has had two camps talking past each other on this issue. One camp tended to preach and derided questions about climate science as evidence of bad motivation. The other camp claimed that climate science was an academic scam designed to get more funding, and that advocates for action were out to strangle economic growth. Charges of bad faith on both sides—and a heavy dose of partisan politics—saw to it that constructive conversation rarely occurred.
If both sides can now begin to agree on some basic propositions, maybe we can restart the discussion. Here are two:
The first will be uncomfortable for skeptics, but it is unfortunately true: Dramatic alterations to the climate are here and likely to get worse—with profound damage to the economy—unless sustained action is taken. As the Economist recently editorialized about the melting Arctic: "It is a stunning illustration of global warming, the cause of the melt. It also contains grave warnings of its dangers. The world would be mad to ignore them."
The second proposition will be uncomfortable for supporters of climate action, but it is also true: Some proposed climate solutions, if not well designed or thoughtfully implemented, could damage the economy and stifle short-term growth. As much as environmentalists feel a justifiable urgency to solve this problem, we cannot ignore the economic impact of any proposed action, especially on those at the bottom of the pyramid. For any policy to succeed, it must work with the market, not against it. ...
I think one of the biggest obstacles to effective discussion on the this topic was the way too many earlier climateactivists opportunistically used climate change to advance pre-existing political agendas. A few months ago I read Michael Hulme's book Why We Disagree About Climate Change. He writes about his own lifelong metamorphous in how he sees the topic. He admits that when he was teaching environmental classes in England in the late 1980's, that he regularly interjected is own anti-Thatcher politics, using climate change to advance his political agenda. He was hardly alone. His political and environmental views have not changed much but he now regrets how he politicized the issue early on.
Ultimately, if you are a left-leaning climate activist, you have to ask whether it is more important to score political points for an ideological agenda (talking about how stupid and evil conservatives are while patting yourself on the back for your superior intellect) or find ways to achieve broad-based consensus on prudent actions to take. If the choice is the former, then clearly climate change itself is not as big an issue as you say it is. You allow political gamemanship to trump prudent change.