A RESPONSE TO A READER: After my piece on the failure of cap-and-trade legislation in the U.S. Senate, I received an e-mail from a reader we’ll call CS. His e-mail is akin to arguments I hear quite frequently, and so I’d like to respond as a way of explaining our philosophy and reasoning here at Green Space. Here’s the e-mail:
Madison, Your piece on Cap and Fade was not bad. I wish, however, you would write about how it would damage our economy by increasing energy costs. The EPA will be just as lethal to business. Does this make sense? Look at both sides. Not just your side. Whiles you’re at it, please give us readers one shred of evidence that global warming/climate change is man-made. And don’t believe all those leftists you quote. Isn’t the first rule of sound reporting to get various sources. Get a quote form the other side, I guarantee you that most of America and especially the coal industry will not be begging for C&T. Also, shorten your pieces - word economy. Political types like me read stuff like this but your average reader needs less.
Although I usually strive for better than “not bad,” I’ll take that as a compliment—I’m happy you’re paying attention. And I appreciate your suggestion that I embrace brevity; however, I felt strongly that the complexities of cap-and-trade demanded some breathing room. Your letter is evidence that I should have pushed for more. This week, I’m extremely limited space-wise, so your wish for brevity is granted, though I wish I had more space.
Since the start of Green Space, Jesse Chambers and I have accepted that global warming is, indeed, happening. This assumption is based on real, observable effects of warming in the environment. It is also based on the accepted consensus and sound, peer-reviewed science from several thousand scientists in 130 countries found in the U.N.’s most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment. Warming is not debatable, and to your credit, CS, you don’t debate it.
But you do ask for evidence that global warming is man-made. Again, I point to the IPCC. It is the best science we have, and I can’t point to any reasonable motive–financial or otherwise–those scientists might have to fabricate a global hoodwinking. It would have to be a grand, grand conspiracy. I feel the issue is settled, at least for now. If the consensus begins to shift, then I’ll shift. But I don’t feel that, in order to be considered “balanced,” every documentary on Apollo 11 needs to include arguments that the moon landing was faked, and I don’t feel that every mention of anthropogenic global warming needs comments from climate science doubters.
CS, you also sent me a second e-mail. This one featured a review of a book by University of Alabama at Huntsville climatologist Roy W. Spencer, who claims that not all warming is attributable to humans. While I appreciate the plug for a fellow Alabamian, I’d posit that most scientists agree there are some natural causes of global warming, though they’d disagree in a huge way with Spencer’s numbers. I would also question Spencer’s motivations, as he serves on the board of the climate-change-denying George C. Marshall Institute. The Institute’s CEO, William O’Keefe, is a former COO of the American Petroleum Institute, and the organization is funded by Exxon-Mobil. Both API and Exxon-Mobil have a clear financial motive for advancing climate change doubt.
I do think some businesses will have negative effects from cap-and-trade or increased environmental regulation, especially in certain coal-rich regions. But many believe that a shift to a clean or cleaner energy would be good for the economy on the whole, totally aside from the environmental benefits. One of the costs of progress is economic change. We didn’t forsake the railroad to save the wagon-building industry, or reject International Harvester’s cotton picking machine to save sharecroppers. Those were tough changes, initially, but in the long run increased efficiency and helped us, macro-economically (and together, the railroad and the cotton picking machine helped Chicago get the blues!).
Thanks for writing.