TNR The Plank
Straw Man Up In Smoke
Nancy talks back to a free-market fundamentalist. Although she has issues with the gurus of limitless public funds for climate-friendly new technologies, we'll be sunk without major government muscle. Walk the Plank.
The New Republic has reorganized content since the time of the original posting and The Plank redirects to Jonathan Chait's blog. The piece to which the conversation refers has been archived without comment. We have cut and pasted Nancy Anderson's comment in full here. The three part debate about what conservatives can do — and haven't done — to confront climate change is linked to as well.
Adler accuses Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of attacking a "straw man" version of conservative orthodoxy. Maybe, maybe not. But Adler deploys his own "straw man" of government programs as shabby things mired in placing technology-specific bets for cutting carbon emissions to attack public policy that spends real money.
Granting that there are some bad bets in the record book, (and whether other technology-specific bets deliver on their promises is a separate question entirely), climate policy proposals for carbon taxes or cap and trade schemes are inherently technology neutral, as they should be.
Other calls for a new generation of climate friendly solutions, like green, high performance buildings, stipulate performance standards, not subsidized silver bullets. For example, a New York City green building law requires new publicly funded construction to exceed existing building or electrical code requirements.
How to do that is left up to the architects and engineers. Turning to the crux of Adler's suggestion that we simply wait for investors to put up all the money that's needed to research, develop and deploy carbon cutting technology and reward the brightest ideas, climate scientists tell us that time is a luxury we do not have. We face a ticking clock and that's nobody's "straw man".
Related content links:
Where's The Beef?