Proof that you can say anything on climate and people will believe you: a news story in Politico saying “Marijuana has never been more popular in the U.S. — and its carbon emissions have never posed a bigger threat to the climate.” Which may conjure up images of Danny Glover’s Lt. Mike Harrigan telling King Willy’s persons of hench they really ought to cut down on the stuff. But apparently the issue is that greenhouses full of weed are boosting the greenhouse effect, partly because federal laws against driving it across state lines lead to inefficient production patterns that use a lot of energy. Whereas cultivating vast plantations in one state and then filling trucks with pot and sending them zooming down the highways of America would… use a lot of energy.
Nearly twenty years ago P.J. O’Rourke mocked sentimental urban environmentalist “three-bong-hit William Blakes” who didn’t actually spend much time in nature. But now imagine a sober (or so we hope) journalist thinking the climate is so fragile that growing marijuana in Connecticut for people to smoke in Connecticut could push it over the edge. Honestly if it could, there’d be no point trying to save it, because a thousand other things with equally minimal actual footprint would be waiting in line to tip it over. It is one more reflection of a departure from realistic analysis into uninformed fantasy.
In which category we also include the Washington Post piece (h/t Marc Morano) saying Jimmy Carter was secretly a great president who just seemed so terrible Americans gave Ronald Reagan two landslides in response, and is now beloved by youth who have no idea what his presidency was actually like. Then it quotes Will Pattiz, a documentary filmmaker born a decade after Carter left office, that “time vindicated Carter. If ‘President Carter had gotten an extra term in office,’ he said, ‘we likely wouldn’t be having a climate crisis right now.’” The Post immediately adds that “Carter likely wouldn’t go that far. In 2019, the former president used his last annual presentation at The Carter Center in Atlanta to blame himself for his post-presidential center being ‘basically mute on the subject of global warming.’” And we’re now told there wasn’t a 1970s cooling scare, that everyone always knew warming was the big issue.
Don’t even get us started about the Greenland polar bear that supposedly bit a man’s hand because of climate change, “Experts say”. But there’s also a story out of Australia about how “The clean energy industry needs to do more to communicate its vision for gold class, secure jobs with attractive salaries to cultivate worker confidence in the industry” presumably so the workers won’t pay attention to the fact that they keep wage cuts and layoff notices. It quoted the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Michele O’Neill, asking some Clean Energy Council panel of experts who say: “What’s your vision to make renewables the best place to work in the country, to attract workers with high paying conditions, to build confidence that workers can rely on these jobs into the future?” Hmm, how about high rates of pay and reliable employment contracts? Instead of, say, big solar projects being cancelled part-way through and workers getting “you’re fired” texts. Classy.
As such people tend to be, Ms. O’Neill is rhetorically totally onside with the green new deal or whatever they call it in Australia: “She alluded to “really promising” yet-to-be released research that has found exporting green steel, green hydrogen and ammonia, critical minerals, battery manufacturing, technical expertise, and other green economy goods and services, could replace Australia’s lucrative fossil fuel exports.” Yeah. And monkeys could fly out of my armpit. She also wants to get workers on the public gravy train, saying “Without government developed and funded transition plans we’re asking workers to take a huge leap of faith and that’s an unreasonable ask.”
One of the experts who say, “Acclaimed social researcher and author Dr Rebecca Huntley also noted that when it comes to public perceptions of renewables, the job-creating potential of clean energy is ‘where we get stuck a bit’. Detailing her findings from some focus group research on the subject, Huntley noted there is ‘scepticism around how many jobs they will produce and whether those jobs are ongoing and as well paid and well protected as fossil fuel jobs.’” Now we hesitate to challenge a climate scientist who holds a PhD in gender studies (and also to be fair degrees in law and film studies), quoted in a story written by one with a BA in Media and Communications. But it is worth noting that this stuff is all in the mind.
Perceptions. Visions. Unreleased research about how unproven technologies could become big winners. What matters is whether alternative energy can deliver power. If it can’t, there isn’t enough tax revenue in the universe to patch the hole no matter who latches onto the subsidies. And at some point someone who at least understands economics has to get an opinion.