[July 14, please note update below -hro]
Back in December, when I first ventured into the fog of the climate change (aka global warming) wars, I was not particularly optimistic that the world would come to its senses in time to stop the steamroller.
The outcomes of the various “inquiries” subsequent to Climategate, suggested that the battle is still very much an uphill struggle, although the signs of increasing desperation from the alarmist activists led me to conclude that the climate realists are far from losing the war.
In the past, Newsweek was known for being a very well-entrenched part of the big green media machine. Yet Newsweek seems to have stepped back from the brink, and offers a very thoughtful – and realistic – analysis of the state of the climate union. [h/t Paul Burke via WUWT] Some excerpts:
Why the environment is no longer a surefire political winner.
Just three years ago the politics of global warming was enjoying its golden moment. The release in 2006 of Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, had riveted global audiences with its predictions of New York and Miami under 20 feet of water. […] In December 2007, the world got its very first green leader. Harnessing the issue of climate change, Kevin Rudd became prime minister of Australia, ready to take on what he called “the biggest political, economic, and moral challenge of our times.” Now, almost everywhere, green politics has fallen from its lofty heights.
Following two of the harshest winters on record in the Northern Hemisphere—not to mention an epic economic crisis—voters no longer consider global warming a priority. Just 42 percent of Germans now worry about climate change, down from 62 percent in 2006. In Australia, only 53 percent still consider it a pressing issue, down from 75 percent in 2007. Americans rank climate change dead last of 21 problems that concern them most, according to a January Pew poll. Last month Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, blasting climate change as a “sideshow” to global economic issues, canceled the meeting of environment ministers that has preceded the G8 or G20 summit every year but one since 1994. […]
What has turned the fight against global warming from vote getter to political hot potato in so many places at once? […]
Yet above all, it is climate politics itself that has turned murky and double-edged. No longer does it lend itself to the easy categories of good and bad that Rudd so successfully exploited in 2007. And controlling the global climate turned out to be a lot more complicated than the advocates of fierce and fast CO2 cuts would have us believe.
Even in the ideal case that the United Nations’ goal of 80 percent emissions reduction by 2050 is technologically and politically feasible, economists disagree widely on whether the cost of the current set of policies, such as carbon caps and green-fuel subsidies, is justified by the avoided damage from warmer temperatures.
On top of all this unease came last November’s “climategate” affair over irregularities in the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body whose findings are the basis of all climate policy. Though a review panel has since cleared the researchers of most allegations, the lingering controversy could further undermine the IPCC’s longstanding push for massive CO2 reduction targets as the only viable option to deal with global warming.
With green politics losing its moral high ground, there is a growing realization that climate change is just one policy priority among many that compete for limited resources and attention. That means, first, that climate politics will likely fall off its pedestal of being the Western world’s overarching priority.[…] A new climate realism would more carefully weigh the costs and benefits of emissions controls, and look at other options beyond the current set of targets. The new debate will be more pragmatic and include a broader mix of policies. That might include a shift of subsidies into research and development, as many climate economists have argued. It would also include greater efforts to adapt society to a warmer climate, rather than focusing only on stopping the warming process in its tracks.
[…] some of the money spent on current policies that often have only limited efficacy might be better spent on other measures, including protection against the worst effects of warming. What’s more, current economic worries are a reminder that every dollar spent on solar cells or biodiesel is a dollar less for education and other budget priorities. If that means climate and environmental policies in the future will be more stringently measured in terms of the tradeoffs involved given finite resources, that would be a lasting benefit […] [emphases added -hro]
Let us hope this is a sign that the enviro-tide has finally turned, and the steamroller just might get stopped in its tracks.
UPDATE July 14: Clive Crook, senior editor of The Atlantic, and a carbon tax enthusiast, offers an article which again points to a positive turn of the enviro-tide. His assessment of the investigations pursuant to Climategate includes:
I had hoped, not very confidently, that the various Climategate inquiries would be severe. This would have been a first step towards restoring confidence in the scientific consensus. But no, the reports make things worse. At best they are mealy-mouthed apologies; at worst they are patently incompetent and even wilfully wrong. The climate-science establishment, of which these inquiries have chosen to make themselves a part, seems entirely incapable of understanding, let alone repairing, the harm it has done to its own cause.