Must-Read: Ryan Cooper: How Climate Change Ate Conservatism’s Smartest Thinkers

Must-Read: It is important to note that global warming is not unique here. There has been no sign of the reemergence of technocratic voices on the right in health care, macroeconomics, anti-poverty policy, inequality, or–increasingly–national security..

Ryan Cooper: How Climate Change Ate Conservatism’s Smartest Thinkers: “Ross Douthat grappled yesterday with the issue, arguing that…

…he’s basically okay with doing nothing….

We could be wrong; indeed, we could be badly wrong, in which case we’ll deserve to be judged harshly for misplacing priorities in the face of real perils, real threats. But on the evidence available [at] the moment, I’m willing to argue that we have our priorities in order, and the other side’s allegedly forward-looking agenda does not….

Like Clive Crook, Will Wilkinson, and Walter Russell Mead, Douthat doesn’t seriously engage with the evidence… constructs a lengthy Rube Goldberg analogy to ‘insurance’… to cast doubt on every portion of the climate hawk case, but he doesn’t take the obvious next step of trying to work through what that means on a quantitative basis…. Without numbers, Douthat’s case is nothing more than vague handwaving that reads very much like he has cherry-picked a bunch of disconnected fluff to justify doing nothing…. Saying we can chance 3 to 4 degrees of warming and that sensitivity is much lower than previously thought might give us enough space to push CO2 concentrations up to 5-600 ppm or so. But right now we’re barreling towards 1000 ppm and beyond….

Like Douthat, the few conservatives who even talk about climate (like Reihan Salam and Ramesh Ponnuru, who he mentions) are constantly saying whatever policy is on deck at the moment is no good. It’s too inefficient; it’s too expensive; it’s trampling on democracy; we should be doing technology instead, etc, etc…. Consistent advocacy against every single climate policy amounts to little more than putting a patina of credibility on the denialist views of the Republican majority.

December 15, 2015


Brad DeLong
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