Hallelujah! The Democrats are back. And now everything will not just be wonderful, it will be effortlessly wonderful. Including climate. Adults might think winning an election is the easy part, even if it did take Biden three tries. And we’re not being sarcastic about his perseverance paying off, especially given how many people tried more than once and never got close enough that you can remember their names (for instance Harold Stassen). But we are being sarcastic about a surprising number of people who just realized, or are still working on it, that as NBC just put it, “Presidential victory? Check. Inauguration complete? Yup. Now comes the harder part: governing”. Please tell us your crack elite reporters and analysts knew it before Jan. 20. And now tell the others, like Climate Home News which just burbled “After four years in the resistance, climate advocates once again have the ear of the president of the United States. Doesn’t it feel good?” I don’t think we’re meant to mention the resistance any more. But we need to inform a lot of people that talk is cheap and action is hard. Including Justin Trudeau. And in some cases ourselves.
To take a trivial example, a member of the House of Representatives has introduced a bill blocking any funds for implementing the Paris Agreement until President Biden gets it ratified by the Senate, as the Constitution requires. And a Democratic Party that long complained of President Trump’s disregard for the rule of law will look odd maintaining that Article II Section 2, requiring a two-thirds Senate majority to approve a treaty, is an ink blot. Did no one see it coming?
As for Canadians, we mention Trudeau particularly because the PM, who recovered with striking ease and rapidity from his disappointment over Keystone XL, made a statement on Biden’s inauguration that included “Canada and the United States… will continue this partnership as we fight the global COVID-19 pandemic and support a sustainable economic recovery that will build back better for everyone. We will also work together to advance climate action and clean economic growth, promote inclusion and diversity, and create good middle class jobs and opportunities for our people while contributing to democracy, peace, and security at home and around the world.” In the face of such prose we skip the usual jibe about “and after lunch, world peace” because it seems to be coming mid-morning with the coffee and Danishes.
The New York Times also needs a reality check after chortling in a news story that “President Biden recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement, the international accord designed to avert catastrophic global warming. Mr. Biden has elevated tackling the climate crisis among his highest priorities. In addition to curbing global warming, he has vowed that ending the coronavirus pandemic, restoring the economy and addressing racial injustice will be the central causes of his administration.”
There is much to quarrel with here, starting with the grammatical mess in the 2nd sentence; even proof-reading is harder than bloviating. But let’s try to concentrate on the notion that Biden will save the planet from CO2, save Americans from COVID-19 and racism, and fix the economy in the next four years is a bit optimistic.
Biden was, we feel obliged to point out, vice-president for eight years under the extremely talented and energetic Barack Obama, and between then they didn’t apparently get these things done. Of course Obama cannot be blamed for not dealing with COVID, though his pandemic planning during a non-crisis left a bit to be desired. But the absence of COVID should have simplified the other tasks a bit. So what happened?
Lest we should seem to be too cosmic or nit-picky or both, let’s now zoom in to the middle level, specifically the Times’ headline about “the international accord designed to avert catastrophic global warming”. And not just the fact that apparently “global warming” is back as are the Democrats.
The big question is: Are the Times writers unaware, or do they not care, that the alarmists’ own models say if everyone met their Paris targets it would make a trivial difference to the temperature 80 years from now? Obviously the computer models might be wrong. They have been so far. But if they are right then two possibilities exist: One is that catastrophic global warming will happen with or without Paris, and the other is that it will not happen with or without Paris. Neither is within the window opened by that headline.
Instead of coming to grips with such questions, the Times takes refuge in the old chestnut about political will: “analysts cautioned that Mr. Biden’s actions on day one must be quickly followed by a series of aggressive domestic climate policies to drastically lower the country’s emissions of planet-warming pollution from tailpipes, smokestacks and oil and gas wells.” At least “analysts cautioned” is a creative new way to say “experts say”. But as Kipling warned, “giving a thing a long name doesn’t make it any better.”
As for Climate Home News, well, they’re ready to unleash the jawbones and talk climate change to death: “While he still faces barriers to delivering his clean energy revolution, Biden’s presidency opens up a world of possibilities for climate diplomacy. And he’s building a big enough team to move on several fronts at once.”
Mind you, they concede, one front could be problematic. “China, for all the significance of its carbon neutrality ambition, must figure out how to bring along coal-rich provinces like Inner Mongolia, which is building power stations and steel works like there’s no tomorrow.” The significance of China’s carbon neutrality ambition is not as obvious as they seem to think; in fact the Global Warming Policy Forum just awarded its “Emma” award for “the greatest climate hypocrite of the year” award to president Xi Jinping in a decision whose unoriginality is excused by its obviousness. As for the difficulties the dictatorship in Beijing might encounter in figuring out “how to bring along” various of its subjects or subject regions, they are entirely willing to lay on with tanks and truncheons when they want to. In this case they don’t.
As Thomas Sowell once memorably warned, “Reality is tricky.”