In the belly of the beast

Scott Denning is not the type of person who you would expect to give talks at the Heartland Institute’s  Climate Change Conference. After all Scott Denning is a well respected climate scientist, a professor in the department of atmospheric science at Colorado state university. While The Heartland institute is a bastion of anti-science denialism, not only denying the role humans play in changing the planet’s climate but also denying the adverse health effects of second hand smoke.

But despite this Scott Denning went to the Heartland conference and delivered an excellent talk. One that avoids alienating the mostly right-wing/libretarian crowd of the conference:

I think Denning makes two key points:

  • It is the big picture that matters. People can quibble about the details all they want but from a policy perspective the those details are irrelevant. And the big picture is that under business as usual if we want to elevate people out of abject poverty we can expect a 400% increase in CO2 over the next 100 years. So far we have only seen a 30% increase. The effects of a 400% increase in CO2 cannot be small.
  • This WILL result in policy. If the ring-wing/libretarian end of the political spectrum does not propose effective policy then someone else will. “Do you want Greenpeace to dictate policy?” He asked the crowd.

Since climate policy is inevitable (though the longer we wait the more costly and less effective at reducing suffering it will be), the right-wing needs to get busy proposing policy that works. Because if they do not, all we will have are left-wing policies. And anyone who thinks that the left-wing (or right-wing for that matter) has all the answers is misguided.  This should be utterly unacceptable to the people from the Heartland Institute or anyone who considers themselves to be on the right-wing. They should be terrified of having Greenpeace dictate policy.

What we need is for both the left and right to propose ways of dealing with the problem, for several different effective policies to be proposed and evaluated. This will increase our chances of finding the absolute best policy.

(h/t Bart Verheggen)

This article was posted in Blog.

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