Friday, December 16, 2005

Climate Change

While discussing the air capture of CO2 (the process where air is taken in, CO2 removed and air release) Roger Pielke, Jr has this to say:
Currently air capture of CO2 is a political third rail of climate policy. Here is why:
For most of those people opposed to greenhouse gas regulation advocating air capture would require first admitting that greenhouse gases ought to be reduced in the first place, an admission that most on this side of the debate have avoided. When so-called climate skeptics start advocating air capture (which I have to believe can't be too far off), then you will have a sign that the climate debate is really changing.
If such a transformation occurs, then we have the irony of seeing the climate skeptics become the technology advocates and the greenhouse gas regulation advocates become technology skeptics. Why? For most of those people who support greenhouse gas regulations, even admitting the possibility of air capture is anathema, because it would undercut the entire structure of the contemporary climate enterprise. Consider that the Kyoto Protocol and all of its complex mechanisms would largely be rendered irrelevant. So too would be most research on carbon sequestration (though point source sequestration would likely remain of interest) and management, as well as much of research on reducing emissions in autos, homes, cities, etc.. As well, because among many much of the motivation for climate mitigation lies in changing peoples lifestyles, securing advantages in international economics, and changing energy policies, air capture represents a tremendous threat to such agendas. As a 2002 Los Alamos National Laboratory press release trumpets, "Imagine no restrictions on fossil-fuel usage and no global warming!"
What Mr. Pielke is leaving unsaid is that most environmentalists are, in fact, anti-business.  They have attached themselves to the environmental movement because it is easy to convert into an anti-corporate message that is capable of hiding behind science.  I think that most politicians on the right do themselves a great disservice by denying that climate change is happening.

A better approach, I think, would be to offer alternatives that don’t demand the dismantling of economic growth.  I’m not sure that I would advocate subsidizing CO2 capture, but it is, at least, an argument that doesn’t appear as if you are putting your head in the sand.

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