George Will isn’t the only conservative partisan using global warming as a wedge issue. Both sides of the debate, to some degree, have used climate change theory to their political advantage. Al Gore has made a fortune and a great deal more fame off the subject–plenty of cash to pay for his carbon-emitting 10,000 square foot home (or his 2400 square foot second home). That’s neither here nor there, however. I pick on Gore primarily because he advocates carbon credits, and cap and trade, systems to combat global warming that are entirely too capitalistic and not proven to be at all effective. Strict tax penalties for companies that break carbon limits, and conversely generous tax breaks for those who adopt low-emission technology are a much surer way to combat industrial polution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The global warming debate has taken on such a banal quality that if it weren’t such an important issue, it would hardly be worth discussing anymore. Personally, I think science is a slow business. It takes a long time to prove anything beyond the shadow of a doubt. I don’t think we’ve shored up enough data to definitively prove that carbon emissions lead to global warming. Then again, I don’t think we’ve disproved it either, and I prefer to err on the side of caution. One would think that this would be the mainstream skeptic’s position. It’s a conservative position to both be doubtful and cautious. Then again, modern conservatism places little value in either caution or conservation, so it’s no surprise that George Will and the rest of the partisans on the Right use global warming as a wardrum rather than approach it with serious inquiry and concern.
Essentially, global warming has become just another talking point in a long and growing list of talking points that the conservative movement uses to keep apostates out of their fold (shrinking that big tent) and to berate liberals with, rather than viewing warming as both a real cause for worry, and as an opportunity to demonstrate honest governance. Apparently obstructionism and denial are better tactics.
Zachary Roth tears Will’s arguments to shreds here, and Bradford Plumer gets a few shots in here. Conservatives should be reading these pieces and paying heed to the vast consensus on global warming. Even if there are some holes in the larger argument, that’s still no excuse to ignore what very well may be the global crisis of the coming century. Conservatives ought to be conserving things, and the environment should be at the top of the list–even above rugged individulaism and the “right” to low taxes.