Recently I post my texts on Medium as well. Recognizing the popularity of this emerging forum, I wrote a polemic with the text posted there.
“We are facing an existential threat,” Lauren Martinchek warns us in her text It’s Time For a Climate Change Debate. Ms. Martinchek calls herself a “leftist” but is introduced by Medium as the “Top writer in Government, Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Leadership.” When Medium recommends an article by one of the top writers, I read.
At first, I was excited as I see a lot of misinformation on the subject and always welcome any opportunity to discuss the subject with people of different views. This is not what Ms. Martinchek had in mind. She does not want any discussions with people disagreeing with her views on climate change, as expressed in her eight texts on this subject published on Medium this year. She just wants Democratic presidential candidates to simmer in their own sauce, outbidding themselves in avoiding the real debate.
People ready to debate climate change for real are everywhere, Medium included. If, before writing a lot, Ms. Martinchek read a little, she could find on Medium that What you know about climate change is probably wrong, written by Jonathan Clark, a regular guy just curious to find out how it really is. David Siegel went even further. He read science reports representing all imaginable points of view on the subject, and in his comprehensive, 9,000-words-long report concluded, also on Medium, that The Science is not Settled on climate change.
My small contribution is in bringing to Medium my old polemic with an author at Huffington Post, doubting that our attempts to fight the climate change are as smart as going With a hoe against the Sun. When reading articles about global warming reposted on Medium from the Washington Post, I noticed recently that It is not about climate, and it is not change, but about billions of dollars per day.
If Ms. Martinchek is not much into reading, there are plenty of videos as well. My preferred is a brief lecture by Prof. Ivar Giaever, a Nobel laureate in physics.
Let us speculate what could be discussed, if politicians would approach the issue of climate change seriously. The most obvious would be starting with the assumption that CO2 emissions are the main cause of climate change, and that we can stop it by going away from fossil fuels. People such as Ms. Martinchek want our government to borrow anywhere between $10 trillion and $100 trillion within the next decade to finance technological transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
A multitude of concerns come to mind. First, we should worry that the federal government will do it as efficiently as it runs the U.S. Postal Service and the Veterans Administration. It means that if hard times due to the climate change actually come, we all, as a nation, and as individual Americans, will be under the burden of a horrendous national debt. Our ability to react to the unexpected will be very limited. Only the very few rich, who now want to lend us these trillions of dollars, will be fine.
Just before cars had been invented by the end of the 19th century, people had been scared that the civilization as it was known would collapse soon due to horse droppings. The high demand for transportation required so many horse carriages that scientists calculated that soon it would be impossible to remove horse droppings from the streets. Cars changed everything. It is important to note that the federal government did not lend money to finance the Model T. The federal government did not spend a dime.
One should ask why a transition from the fossil fuel-based energy to renewable energy should be done differently. The recent technological progress in solar energy is tremendous. As well as progress in batteries. Already there are houses off the electric grid. The Model T version of it is somewhere nearby, where energy from solar panels can be stored in batteries, making electrical energy cheaper than from fossil fuels. Parallel to this, the recent advancement in electric car technology is promising as well. Soon these cars will be cheaper than the ones with combustion engines.
Of course, an investment is needed in the further development of these technologies. China is getting ahead because for the last 20 years, they invested in technological progress while Americans spent a few trillion dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. People who lent money for these wars now convinced Ms. Martinchek, and many others, that they should lend money to the American government so then the government could use this money to finance the technological rebuilding of American industry. To make it clear, the same people who want to lend us these trillions of dollars are major stockholders of American industry. In other words, they will get back, in contracts and grants, the money they want to lend to the federal government. Then they will reap the benefits of this rebuild for themselves and charge Americans the interest on the loan.
That double-dipping is the swindle of the century. The objective is not in doing nothing about climate change, but in putting the onus on private industry to lead the technological progress. This will make richer both individual Americans as well as government agencies on all levels. If investments in infrastructure are needed, they could be better managed by local governments. If blunders happen, as the federal government did when “protecting” us from opioids, or from flying unsafe planes, they will affect only a city, a county or a state, not the whole nation. This decentralized approach goes along with the basic American principle that the strength of the nation comes not from what government does but from what Americans do by themselves.
An ideologically blindfolded leftist might not see the complexity of this matter. Practical operatives at the Democratic National Convention may not see it clearly either, but they are clever enough to anticipate that as soon as the climate change issue comes up for debate, many of the difficult questions and seditious ideas mentioned above will get out of the bottle. Eyeing the general election, they cannot afford this to happen now.