hen Obama hysteria mixes with global warming hysteria, the results can be ridiculous indeed, as readers of Grist may have noticed today (probably not, lost in hysteria as they are) upon reading Joseph Romm’s Obama’s First 100 Days Make – and May Remake – History.
This is the third nominee in C-SM’s 2009 Most Ridiculous Story of the Year competition. The rules are simple: Entries must be work that serious writers present in all seriousness that goes far, far beyond the sublime and settle heavily into the imbecilic. So, are your shrill-protectors on? Good, let’s get right into it:
The media just keeps missing—or messing up—the story of the century.
Future historians will inevitably judge all 21st-century presidents on just two issues: global warming and the clean energy transition. If the world doesn’t stop catastrophic climate change—Hell and High Water—then all presidents, indeed, all of us, will be seen as failures, and rightfully so.
There is no terror threat. There is no economic crisis. There is nothing you should focus on except global warming and the forced march to alternative energy. I believe the media is on this story well enough, but gosh, they just keep insisting on reporting on other stuff like swine flu, Wall Street, Iraq and politics. Shame on them!
But, shoot, once you understand the threat, you understand why Romm’s so intense:
How else could future generations judge us if the U.S. and the world stay anywhere near our current emissions path, warm most of the inland United States 10 to 15°F by century’s end, with sea levels 3 to 7 feet higher, rising perhaps an inch or two a year, with the Southwest from Kansas to California a permanent dust bowl, and much of the ocean a hot, acidic dead zone — impacts that could be irreversible for 1,000 years if we don’t reverse emissions soon and sharply.
Never mind that we’ve had ten years of cooler temperatures, or that the oceans have been rising steadily at 1/2 to 3/4 inches a year for the last 14,000 years, or that everything he says is based on computer models that didn’t pick up the recent temperature dip. We need to act, and act now! If we don’t, other models might get other things wrong!
But since that is the world as Romm sees it, he just thinks Barack Obama’s first 100 days were peachy:
In that sense, what team Obama has accomplished in its first 100 days is nothing less than an unprecedented reversal of decades of unsustainable national policy forced down the throat of the American public by conservatives. While I will present a longer list below — and welcome your additions — three game-changing accomplishments stand out:
1. Green Stimulus: Progressives, Obama keep promise to jumpstart clean energy, economy — conservatives keep promise to jumpstop the future
2. Sustainable Budget: The first sustainable budget in U.S. history.
3. Regulatory breakthrough: EPA finds carbon pollution a serious danger to Americans’ health and welfare requiring regulation
Obama has clearly demonstrated he has a serious chance to be the first President since FDR to remake the country through his positive vision. Indeed, if Obama is a two-term president, if he achieves even half of what he has set out to, he will likely be remembered as “the green FDR.”
Uh-huh. I’ve heard “sustainable” used every which way, but I’ve never heard it used as “driving future generations into a deep cesspool of debt that will paralyze their options and poison their quality of life.” And isn’t it interesting that the fourth most common element – one that is basically us to our core – is suddenly a serious danger to us?
Romm then launches into a tirade against Ronald Reagan for “making conservatives strongly and permanently on the pro-pollution, anti-efficiency, anti-clean-energy side,” and here I thought he was merely correcting some wayward Carter policies. But what would a leftist rant be without an attack on Reagan? That was expected, but his next statement caught me be surprise:
… since establishment historians almost by definition focus on the past …
Have you met any historians, establishment or otherwise, who focus on the future? Me neither.
He then attacks Time’s Joe Klein for an “utter lack of knowledge or interest in the substance of the global warming problem” because Klein wrote this:
The fate of Obama’s first year in office, if not his Administration, will probably be determined by the way he handles four distinct challenges — two in foreign policy and two domestically….
And that’s the second domestic challenge: the realization that Congress will not give Obama everything he wants. Aides say the President’s moments of frustration almost always have to do with Congress. “We know that not every wagon makes it across the frontier,” says a top Obama adviser. “But we’re not willing to decide yet which wagons are going to make it and which aren’t.” In fact, that decision seems more and more apparent: Congress is unlikely to pass the linchpin of Obama’s alternative-energy initiative — a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions to combat global warming and tilt the market toward energy independence but that would also raise energy prices in the midst of a recession.
“The wagon that needs to get through is health care,” says a second Obama adviser, picking up the metaphor. (emphasis Romm’s)
It seems that Klein has reported pretty accurately on the state of affairs in DC, which has nothing to do with whether or not he has an utter lack of knowledge or interest in the substance of global warming policy. (Romm argues that cap-and-trade is not the linchpin of Obama’s alternative energy initiative, but rather that alternative energy that is the linchpin of Obama’s effort to avert catastrophic global warming. So what exactly is cap-and-trade? Just some passing fancy of no real consequence? Sheesh.) He also says all the hooey about cap and trade raising prices should be summarily dismissed because the higher prices won’t kick in until 2012, and the recession will be over by then.
Romm wraps it up with a list of 11 things he really, really likes about Obama’s first 100 days. I’m not sure I share his enthusiasm; boldface is Romm, standard is me:
- Obama began the process of blocking the vast majority of new coal plants. Never mind that no viable replacement is in sight and we do still need energy.
- He began the process of dramatically increasing the efficiency of our vehicles, by stripping them of protective mass, which will result in a steep upsurge in traffic fatalities. But you wanted to be sacrificed to the global warming god, didn’t you?
- He appointed a first-rate Cabinet and then unleashed them to start inconvenient-truth telling to the public after 8 years of Administration denial and muzzling of U.S. scientists. First-rate liars, thieves and tax-dodgers, and please, there was no muzzling – it’s just that Bush let both sides be told.
- In every single major speech, he has focused on the urgent need for the clean energy transition, for a price for carbon (cap-and-trade and “closing the carbon loophole”), and the unsustainability of our current economic system . I just love it when the president of the world’s most successful capitalist nation hawks failed socialistic platitudes and expresses his desire to move beyond success and into gloomy darkness. Can I say “darkness?”
- He signed into law the tax credits needed to achieve his ambitious goal of 1 million plug-in hybrids by 2015. Yeah, those hybrids with their nickel smelters, acid and costly recycling. The other night on Top Gear, they followed a 4-cylinder hybrid Prius with an 8-cylinder BMW M3. The Prius made 17 mpg; the M3 made 19.
- He signed into law a massive investment in mass transit and train travel. So what if buses and trains are less efficient per capita than cars?
- He signed into law the tax credits needed meet his ambitious goal of doubling renewables in his first term. Yeah, let’s check back on that little gem of Really Big Talking.
- He signed into law the funding needed to jumpstart a 21st smart grid that is critical to enable the renewable energy, energy efficiency, and plug-in hybrid revolution. Of course the private energy sector could do this themselves with the sort of incentives Obama is showering on “ambitious” goals like “doubling renewables.”
- He signed into law the single biggest investment in the deployment of energy-efficient technology in U.S. history. He bought some cars and light bulbs – one of the stimulus program elements I actually liked – except I think mercury-laden screw-in fluorescents are a dangerous joke.
- For the first time in three decades, he more than doubled the annual budget for advanced energy efficiency, renewable energy, and low carbon technology. Why not? He’s spending like there’s no tomorrow on everything else.
My friend Frank has been arguing elegantly about the need for a less mocking tone when confronting environmental issues, and instead engaging in conservative environmentalism, pointing out that there are more cost-effective, free market was to confront our environmental challenges. I like his thinking but think there’s also a need to confront the loons and call them loons, and I offer as exhibit one of my argument this concluding paragraph from Romm:
Of course, it’s entirely possible that this history-making first 100 days won’t remake history. It’s more than possible that we won’t stop catastrophic warming. But if we don’t stop the 100s of years of misery, of Hell and High Water,” [sic] that will almost certainly be because the conservative movement threw their entire weight behind humanity’s self-destruction — because conservative in both chambers refuse to conserve anything, including a livable climate, and willingly sacrificed the health and well-being of the next 50 generations of Americans for their ideology.
It makes my stomach turn. I don’t know a conservative who isn’t also a conservationist, or perhaps more accurately, a believer in stewardship, the biblical concept the enviros have tried to turn into “sustainability.” The Good Lord taught us to use His creation for our sustenance, but also to protect it so future generations could use it. We are not the evil drones Romm portrays; we are just stewards who want rationality, economic sensibility, an end to agenda-driven over-regulation and a return to sanity.
Romm succeeds in moving us farther from all those noble goals.