Climate Change Activists Have Been Foiled At Every Point: But they should be very happy
Walter Russell Mead writes a short blog post that should give climate change alarmists pause. It’s a new update on old news that I haven’t yet drawn much attention to on this blog.
The Energy Department has just released a report that ought to leave the greens asking: How did we get this so wrong? As the APreports, the study shows that US carbon emissions have just hit their lowest level in 20 years. How was this reduction achieved? Natural gas:
“In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.
“Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.”
For years, American greens have pushed carbon-trading as the best way to reduce carbon emissions. Yet now carbon emissions are dropping, thanks not to an intrusive government tax on carbon, but to the brown industry and fracking technologies greens vociferously oppose.
Meanwhile, Europe’s massive carbon-trading scheme has had decidedly mixed results in reducing emissions, and may even be encouraging the production of dangerous pollutants. With this news, the case for America to follow Europe’s lead on carbon has become considerably tougher to make.
Part of the problem with the climate change debate is that it has been politicized and to a certain extent even turned into an instance of the culture wars. This is very bad for science, which needs to stay above the political fray if it is to maintain its credibility. It is also a good lesson for Christian conservatives, who risk a lot of theological capital and credibility when they attach their faith so closely to a particular political agenda.
The fact is, on most political issues, most Americans want to solve problems the most effective way possible, and in the way most conducive of liberty. This is an area of consensus. Just as climate change activists need to learn how to channel the economy and American liberty to achieve their own goals, rather than oppose these unstoppable forces, Christian conservatives need to learn how to defend life, or traditional marriage, in ways that mesh with basic American interests and concerns.
Just think of it. In their wildest dreams global warming alarmists would never have imagined that the U.S. would so effectively reduce carbon emissions. And yet this occurred despite the fact that at the level of policy they were foiled in everything they tried to do. Who knows? Perhaps conservatives will discover success of a similar kind?