Lots of stiff competition for the Green Weenie Award this week, which we gave yesterday to Jerry Brown. But some of the also-rans are worthy of honorable mention, starting with the letter to the editor of The Star newspaper in Toronto from Barbara Falby that blamed the Colorado theater shooting on climate change and cuts to climate research by the Canadian government. No, seriously:
Many opinions have been expressed about the shooting of 24 people in a Toronto community housing project, and the shooting of 82 in a Colorado movie theatre. Admirably, the CBC is explored the role of extremely high temperatures as a trigger for violent behaviour. I know that living in a small, hot, airless room would motivate me to strike out at people. . .
Extremely hot weather has been allowed to escalate, because Mr. Harper pretends there is no such thing as climate change, having cut funding for many scientific studies, and having denied climate scientists access to media, without PMO approval, despite increasing evidence of species extinction (bats, frogs, bees, etc.), extreme heat (severe drought causing massive crop losses) and freakish weather (disastrous flooding and increase in tornadoes). Mr. Harper can take credit for blocking serious efforts by scientists who wanted the Canadian government to deal with this impending disaster.
Not to be outdone by a Canadian, Sarah Wolpow of Brunswick, Maine, writes on NJToday.net with the perfect excuse not to take your kids out for ice cream—you guessed it, climate change:
“Yes, you’re partly right,” I tell her, and her sister too, who has now wandered in. “I don’t especially want to spend more time carting you around. But there is another reason. Every time we get in the car we contribute to climate change. By the end of this century – and you may both still be around – climate change is likely to make conditions for life on earth drastically different from what they are today.” . . .
Well then, my children ask, shouldn’t we do something about it?
I tell them they are already helping by riding their bikes and walking around town, by delighting in hand-me-downs rather than shopping trips, by eating local spinach rather than asking for processed foods from afar.
Sounds like a real fun household. Of course, the “do it for the children” card is by now among the oldest tropes of liberalism (especially now that Joe Biden has maxed-out the race card—what’s that Slow Joe? You thought you had a no-limit race card? Heh!). But that hasn’t stopped Julia Whitty of Mother Jones or writing yesterday on “Climate Change and the Fate of a Million Kids.” This turns out to be merely a sequel to a 2010 article in Mother Jones entitled “How Children Suffer From Climate Change” that quotes prominently from . . . Julia Whitty. Next we’ll be hearing about The Consensus . . . snore . . .
Almost as if on cue, Eliot Spitzer weighs on in the subject. Yes—that Eliot Spitzer. He writes this week at Grist.org about the conservative solution to climate change, which, as we shall see, turns out to be the liberal fallback solution to climate change–a pure case of bait and switch. Wow—that Spitzer sure is an original thinker. So original that he can’t resist the old “tipping point” language:
The pace of global warming is accelerating and the scale of the impact is devastating. The time for action is limited — we are approaching a tipping point beyond which the opportunity to reverse the damage of CO2 emissions will disappear.
But perhaps he’ll redeem himself by recognizing the true conservative position on climate change, which can be boiled down to a single word: resiliency. Nope. Instead, he wants a–wait for it–carbon tax:
Yet there is an answer for either candidate courageous enough to take the first step. This answer is steeped in conservative economics: Companies that pollute should be taxed so that a product’s cost to society is reflected in the price of that product. Milton Friedman and Richard Posner agree on this point!
Well let’s see. Milton Friedman has been dead for several years, so it’s hard to see how he could agree with Richard Posner on anything just now, especially a carbon tax. To the extent that Friedman believed in excise taxes for air pollution, even if you think Milton would go along with the “CO2 is pollution” idea (he didn’t, for the record), his view would be that the tax should be set at the discounted present value of the cost of future damages from that “pollution.” Even if you buy the most extreme scenario of the climate alarmists, it would justify a current carbon tax of around $2 – $5 a ton, which works out to 2 to 5 cents a gallon of gasoline. Which isn’t going to change anyone’s behavior, or do much to reduce emissions. (NB: Nearly all current carbon tax proposals start at around $10 to $15 a ton, and go up rapidly from there. Friedman would never have supported a tax at those levels.)
Of course the real point of Spitzer and others calling for carbon tax is not to solve the problem. It’s to get another tax in place. They must think we’re really stupid if they think anyone believes this is a conservative idea.
One hesitates to give Eliot Spitzer any kind of weenie award, but perhaps we’ll create a junior award just for him: perhaps the Anthony Weiner-Envy Award?
JOHN adds: I won’t touch the Spitzer/Weiner theme, but will note that the idea that hot weather causes violence has a respectable literary pedigree. The Toronto letter to the editor brings to mind the beginning lines of Raymond Chandler’s “Red Wind:”
There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.
Chandler, of course, didn’t blame his readers for the Santa Anas. Before he started writing he was a vice-president of the Dabney Oil Syndicate.