On Monday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up Republican-backed legislation to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. Democrats proposed a series of amendments that simply admitted the reality of global warming — they didn’t require regulation or a carbon tax. Just an admission of the state of the science. Rep. Diana DeGette’s amendment was particularly careful in its language: “’The scientific evidence is compelling’ that elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from anthropogenic emissions ‘are the root cause of recently observed climate change,’” it read. Not one of the 31 Republicans on the committee voted for it, or any of the amendments. Not one. Confronted by one of the most significant threats our planet faces, the 31 House Republicans charged with coordinating America’s response refused to even admit the underlying facts. “I would say it’s not settled,” said Rep. Joe Barton.
- Ezra Klein, Wonkbook: The disaster we refuse to see coming
They didn’t contact me directly, but the House Energy and Commerce Committee nevertheless answers my query about why self-styled advocates of the free-market block action to combat climate change: they think climate science is a vast left-wing conspiracy perpetrated by Al Gore, granola munching hippies, and Marxist anti-American radicals.
Which begs the question: what’s the motive behind our conspiracy so immense?
When environmentalists accuse industry-backed groups of skewing climate science there’s no mystery as to the reason for industry’s obfuscation. The Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, the American Petroleum Institute, or the Edison Electric Institute are associations of corporations who generate profit from the burning of fossil fuels. EPA regulation, a carbon tax, or a carbon cap will affect their bottom lines. It’s hard to make an industry see, when it makes its profits by being blind.
But for climate hawks like me, the thing about An Inconvenient Truth is that it’s highly inconvenient. A quarter of humanity lives without electricity! There’s immense poverty and suffering that will only be cured with energy-intensive economic growth. In the post-industrial world there are stagnating middle- and working- wages, and now we have to worry about the climate?
Is there some electoral bonus to be gained by talking about the climate? Where can we get in on that? Does anyone think liberal activists push for oh-so-exciting legislation like “Waxman-Markey” because it’s a political winner? Do Democrats harbor some special wish to never win an election from West Virginia to Indiana?
Are there vast financial interests undergirding the work of climatologists?
Are David Cameron and Angela Merkel members of our vast conspiracy? Why?
Why would we care so much about climate change if there were any other choice?