Bill McKibben is a perfect illustration of Churchill’s definition of a fanatic: Someone who can’t change their mind, and won’t change the subject. He’s become such a bore about climate change, and the Keystone pipeline, that it’s usually a waste of time following him, let alone responding to him. Besides, by openly embracing environmental Manicheanism—saying that the cause of fighting climate change needs an enemy to demonize (I guess he skipped over the supposed lessons of McCarthyism in Liberalism 101)—he’s doing great damage to any sensible version of environmental protection, so why get in the way of a guy bent on destroying his extremist cause?
But it is worth noting that McKibben has turned on Obama in the latest edition of Rolling Stone. What—I thought the sea levels stopped rising the moment of Obama’s election, because Obama. You mean they didn’t?
The fanatical narrow-mindedness of McKibben’s indictment of Obama can be seen in howlers such as this one:
[T]he Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 was unquestionably the great foreign-policy failure of Obama’s first term. . .
I think Ambassador Christopher Stevens might have a thing or two to say about Obama’s biggest foreign policy failure, but he was unavailable for comment.
But wait, there’s more!
[T]he one degree we’ve raised the temperature already has melted the Arctic . . .
Do I even need to bother with this one? No.
We’ve built lots of new solar panels and wind towers in the past five years (though way below the pace set by nations like Germany).
The U.S. built more solar and wind power than Germany over the last decade (and Germany is cutting back fast). Though that’s no real credit to us.
We’re supposed to be thrilled when Obama says something, anything, about global warming – he gave a fine speech this past June. “The question,” he told a Georgetown University audience, is “whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late. And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren. As a president, as a father and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act.” Inspiring stuff, but then in October, when activists pressed him about Keystone at a Boston gathering, he said, “We had the climate-change rally back in the summer.” Oh.
In fact, that unwillingness to talk regularly about climate change may be the greatest mistake the president has made. An account in Politico last month described his chief of staff dressing down Nobel laureate and then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu in 2009 for daring to tell an audience in Trinidad that island nations were in severe danger from rising seas. Rahm Emanuel called his deputy Jim Messina to say, “If you don’t kill Chu, I’m going to.” On the plane home, Messina told Chu, “How, exactly, was this fucking on message?” It’s rarely been on message for Obama, despite the rising damage. His government spent about as much last year responding to Sandy and to the Midwest drought as it did on education, but you wouldn’t know it from his actions.
Actually, I’d love it if Obama talked more about climate change. If there’s anything Americans want more right now than health care reform, it’s Obama taking more control of our energy sector and listening to people like McKibben. It’s the one thing certain to drive his approval ratings down below 30 percent. It’s almost enough to revoke McKibben’s Green Weenie Award. Almost.