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Has climate change jumped the shark?

23 Oct 2019 | News Roundup

You might not think so, with time running out for deniers (again) except perhaps as psychiatric patients. But there are signs of fatigue with it in the political system. In Australia, a senior Labour figure has caused turmoil in his party by suggesting they not run in the next election on the hugely ambitious plans that cost them the last one. And when CNN and the New York Times sponsored the 4th, 3-hour debate among contenders for the Democratic nomination, the moderators didn’t ask a single question about climate and the candidates didn’t make it an issue. You might think it’s because everyone agrees. But what if it’s because nobody has anything useful to suggest and most people secretly don’t care?

Voters claim to be anti-global-warming, of course. But as we learned including from the Yellow Vest upheaval in France, and Canadians’ views on carbon taxes, and any number of similar issues in other countries, citizens aren’t willing to pay any significant price to take action against greenhouse gases, suggesting they don’t really think there’s a problem.

Except when all-in politicians push the agenda too far. For instance deep blue California’s governor is now in big political trouble over high gas prices and unreliable power. And remember, high prices for less available energy is a feature not a bug of the climate alarmist movement, soothing talk of wind power notwithstanding.

The problem isn’t really the cost of alternative energy, because except by accident politicians are not willing to raise the price of energy to levels that would discourage its use. There was some kerfuffle over a study finding that green energy policies cost Britain £9 billion per year, or £340 per household. But while an increase in energy bills means hardship to the poor, Britain is rich, and most households may resent the extra cost but are not unable to pay it. The problem is how much more it’s going to cost to try to get renewables up from their current trivial share… or what happens when you just can’t. (Wind farms, like solar farms, have thus far been cherry-picking sites.) On which politicians have little to say that is not both stale and unconvincing.

The hardcore believe that if voters are not willing to pay high carbon taxes and otherwise do without the conveniences of modern life, they are short-sighted idiots and democracy itself must give way in this climate emergency. Meanwhile most voters are happy just to virtue-signal, if only to avoid fights with their grade-schoolers trained to correct their pronunciation of Thunberg (it’s Toon-BUIY not THUN-berg). But they simply aren’t convinced that it’s the end of the winter and the world as we know it because out their window things are going pretty much as they always have (see for instance our Climate Emergency Tour series including this week’s stop in St. John’s). And since politicians are repeating implausible mantras about what’s supposedly happening and how to fix it painlessly, a lot of them just tune it out and go about their business.

Passionate opposition to climate change coupled with timid or nonexistent proposals to fight it must inevitably become a stale punchline.

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