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We Need a Biden, Not an AOC Solution to Climate Change

Two interesting political subplots to the climate change debate: first, former vice president Joe Biden is showing that he’s serious about winning the presidency, which means steering a middle ground on the climate issue.

Second, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is showing that she is not serious about making the case for her green agenda, which means embracing her own marginalization.

Biden’s seriousness became evident when we learned that he is interested in carbon capture as a solution to climate change. As Reuters scooped [1] on May 10, policy advisors in Biden’s circle, including former energy secretary Ernest Moniz, have argued that carbon capture—which this author [2] wrote about for TAC two years ago—will prove to be an essential part of any economically plausible climate strategy. Which is to say, if Biden wants to recapture Trump states and thereby recapture the White House, he must run on a plausible platform.

And yet AOC, as she has become known, disagrees with Biden’s attempt at moderation. At a green rally on May 13, she declared [3], “I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act are going to try to come back today and say we need a middle of the road approach to save our lives!”


In a typical election, victory is found in the middle. Yet, of course, AOC’s New York City district is not typical—the center there is on the left fringe of the country—and so it’s no wonder she feels no need to compromise. After all, her name won’t be on the national ballot in 2020. Why, one might even imagine that she doesn’t particularly want someone such as Biden to win in 2020, lest her brand of leftist provocation be smothered by a centrist Democrat in the White House.

And speaking of provocation, it’s hard to top this. On May 12, AOC tweeted [4] a general attack on Republicans who have been sniping at her Green New Deal for months: “This is a technique of the GOP, to take dry humor + sarcasm literally and ‘fact check’ it. Like the ‘world ending in 12 years’ thing, you’d have to have the social intelligence of a sea sponge to think it’s literal.”

Oh. So now we’re told that AOC was just using “dry humor”—humor that those sodden Republicans couldn’t possibly fathom—when she said the end was nigh.

Yet in the interest of keeping the record straight—and for the benefit of those not hip to the latest lulz [5]—we might recall her actual remarks [6] on January 22. She certainly looked serious when she said, “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”

Indeed, as the Daily Caller pointed out [7], at least five Democratic presidential hopefuls seemed to take AOC’s words at least somewhat to heart.

Of course, it can be argued that anyone seeking national office ought to verify, as opposed to trust, what AOC has to say about climate. After all, her February rollout [8] of the Green New Deal was a monumental fiasco, complete with misbegotten language about “farting cows” and welfare for those “unwilling to work.” Amidst public mirth and Democratic angst, AOC’s plan was soon withdrawn, and yet her flip explanation [9] of what happened—“I definitely had a staffer who had a very bad day at work”—does not exactly fill one with confidence about her sense of quality control, to say nothing of her leadership.

So even as AOC continues to tweet [10] that she is very serious about her Green New Deal, let’s turn to Biden, who has a real chance of being the Democratic nominee—and also the next president.

For the moment, Biden is getting hammered by the Left for not embracing the emerging Democratic orthodoxy that a true green will seek the total elimination of fossil fuels sometime soon, if not necessarily by 2030. Sample headline [11] in The Washington Post: “Joe Biden’s baffling misread on climate change.” Yet even that Post article conceded that Biden is calculating that he can win the nomination without winning over every last leftist: “Biden’s aiming for the general election.”

Yes, that’s exactly what Biden is doing—he’s trying to win. And to that end, he and his advisors have recognized that activist social media is well to the left [12] of the bulk of Democrats who actually vote.

In the meantime, there’s an emerging consensus that the only realistic way to deal with the issue of atmospheric carbon dioxide is to keep burning fossil fuels while also figuring out a way to keep the resulting CO2 out of the atmosphere. As we have seen, Biden appears to be onboard with that idea. And on the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [13] and Senator John Barrasso, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, have argued for technological fixes for the carbon problem, including direct air capture [14]. And as for the Trump administration, Rick Perry worked on carbon capture when he was governor of Texas, and continues to do so [15] now that he is energy secretary.

Yes, there are still plenty of unresolved questions about climate change, such as the odd fact that the entire solar system is warming [16], not just the earth. And yet for now, in the practical world of split-the-difference politics, leaders are groping toward some sort of cautious incrementalism, in which removing CO2 is regarded as a challenge for scientists and engineers to solve, as opposed to an occasion for green crusaders to seek our collective salvation.

Indeed, shrewd Republicans [17] have figured out that a massive carbon capture plan would not only save red state energy sources from being crimped, or even shut down, but also create a whole industry of carbon capture, with much of that, inevitably, in red rural areas. And if rich Democrats [18] want to pay for that, Republicans should let them.

In fact, if the issue of climate change is simplified into a technical question, lots of intriguing solutions will present themselves. Recently, this author [19] observed that low-tech trees are, in and of themselves, “carbon sinks.” Yes, our leafy friends eventually die, thus potentially releasing the carbon (a tree is about one sixth carbon), yet if the wood is preserved—in, say, building material—then the carbon sink continues. And more trees can be planted, more carbon captured.

The idea that Mother Nature could be a carbon sinking solution takes on additional dimensions as new kinds of innovation come to the fore. And sometimes, such innovation is happily serendipitous. For example, a company called Necternal [20], based in Idaho Falls, has long been working on what’s seemed like completely separate issues: the challenges of increasing crop yields and protecting adjoining waterways from the pollution of chemical runoff. Necternal concluded that traditional nitrogen/phosphorous/potassium fertilizers were part of the problem, because they “salted” the soil, making it harder and less porous. Such hardening not only worsened runoff, it also inhibited plants’ root growth.

As Necternal advisor Steve Milloy explained in an interview, a good answer is better fertilizer—made by guess-who—which keeps the soil softer and more water absorbent. In addition to increasing farm yields, Necternal believes it can show that its products enlarge root growth. And since the roots of a plant are often larger than the above-ground plant itself, that’s a lot of possible carbon sinking.

Milloy notes that in 2018, the United States emitted 5.2 gigatons [21] of CO2. He calculates that more abundant growth in farms and forests, above and below ground, could sequester about 40 percent of that annual CO2 emission.

To be sure, that’s not the entirety of the carbon problem. Fortunately, science is increasingly focusing on solutions. Last month, Nature published a plan [22] for turning air conditioners into carbon capture machines. How cool is that, pun intended?

The animal spirits of entrepreneurship, too, have been loosed: The New York Times recently wrote about a carbon capture conference in San Francisco [23], and if you missed that, there’s another one coming up in Houston [24].

Given the ruthlessness of scientific competition and the randomness of economic fortune, there’s no assurance that any of these ideas, or their investments, will pan out. Yet human history tells us that when there’s a problem, we’ll find a way to solve it. And we won’t need to abandon prosperity to find that solution.

In fact, by the time we get done building up new problem-solving industries, we’ll most likely find that we have even more prosperity.

James P. Pinkerton is an author and contributing editor at The American Conservative. He served as a White House policy aide to both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

35 Comments (Open | Close)

35 Comments To "We Need a Biden, Not an AOC Solution to Climate Change"

#1 Comment By cka2nd On May 14, 2019 @ 10:38 pm

AOC offers a choice, Mr. Pinkerton, not an echo. That something a New Right conservative like you should be able to respect.

#2 Comment By Hank Linderman On May 15, 2019 @ 2:13 am

Kudos to AOC for bringing the issue to the forefront, even if she appears to be on the fringe. You rarely get to the middle by starting in the middle – indeed, Biden’s so-called middle ground was closer to the fringe during the Obama years.

The 12-year figure is the window of time we have to make serious changes to deal with climate change, according to a recent UN report. Others have said this time frame is optimistic. In any case, it’s easy to appreciate AOC not wanting to take the middle-ground when the survival of the species may be at stake.

So, let’s stop being so concerned about political personalities, or whether a proposal is conservative or progressive or whatever. An effective set of solutions will include bits from both the extremes and the center. This is collaboration, and it is sorely lacking in America today.

#3 Comment By Gene Smolko On May 15, 2019 @ 2:23 am

It’s obvious what AOC was referring to, the recent statement from UN scientists that we have twelve years to keep the warming to a maximum increase of 1.5C.

If we blow past that, the world suffers seriously bad consequences.

#4 Comment By FunkMore LessWalrus On May 15, 2019 @ 2:24 am

“Yes, that’s exactly what Biden is doing—he’s trying to win. And to that end, he and his advisors have recognized that activist social media is well to the left of the bulk of Democrats who actually vote.”

The bulk of Democrats continues to shrink, as does the bulk of Republicans, as both parties have less and less to do with actual real-world situations, and much less to do with what they’d traditionally stand for.

And at least one poll I saw recently noted that the bulk of both Republicans and Democrats supported a green new deal. And medicare for all.

And finally, Biden is a proven two-time laughable loser in just the primary. And Trump is a master troll. Biden would be destroyed. But of course that might be a reason for some particular conservatives to praise Biden just now, so as to avoid facing a real challenge in the primary.

“To be sure, that’s not the entirety of the carbon problem. Fortunately, science is increasingly focusing on solutions. Last month, Nature published a plan for turning air conditioners into carbon capture machines. How cool is that, pun intended?


Yes, there are still plenty of unresolved questions about climate change, such as the odd fact that the entire solar system is warming, not just the earth.”


And btw, my rough calculation is that Biden has had 552 months in politics, some in very high positions with which he could’ve focused on dangers of climate change. AOC has had 5 months, as a Rep. Talk about “conservative”.

And I don’t know what Biden’s middle name is. Maybe Ostrich? Maybe yours as well?

#5 Comment By MarkUSA On May 15, 2019 @ 3:04 am

Wait… I thought it was a hoax.

I was told it was all a big hoax.

#6 Comment By AlexArr On May 15, 2019 @ 6:52 am

“In the meantime, there’s an emerging consensus that the only realistic way to deal with the issue of atmospheric carbon dioxide is to keep burning fossil fuels while also figuring out a way to keep the resulting CO2 out of the atmosphere.”

The author fails to articulate why we need to keep burning fossil fuels. Genuinely curious why this is a “necessity.”

#7 Comment By David Jones On May 15, 2019 @ 7:44 am

I’m not sure anyone has actually seen the Biden plan yet, I certainly couldn’t find it. Whatever conservatives may think of AOC, the fact is that there is very little chance that a system dependent on fossil fuels will manage to create a climate safe setup. There will undoubtedly be leaks in the general fossil fuel infrastructure including in any CO2 sequestering mechanisms, there will be hiding/underreporting of emissions (some recent examination of tar sands suggest they are far more CO2 intensive than what industry reports), there will likely also be miscalculations or underestimations of the extent of the problem as usually happens and it’s unlikely to be cheaper than actually just transitioning away from said fuels. Not to mention that they are almost certainly finite (the yield issues with the most recent boom in the USA seem to suggest that we’ve more or less reached the “that’s all folks” moment). The only way to ensure a safe future is to transition to alternatives. Other then that, we are all running extreme risk up to and including the infinite cost of societal structural breakdown on a global scale in the later half of this century. That’ll undoubtedly affect everyone, conservatives included. Some research suggests conservative states may actually be more at risk from incoming damages.

#8 Comment By Peter913 On May 15, 2019 @ 7:53 am

IMHO, eliminate AOC in The Bronx primaries;
Have Anthony Weiner run against her;-)
Next, as to Biden’s “Greenery”? Did he ask Mother Nature why she dropped our temperatures 12ºF 2.4 million yrs. ago giving us an 11,000 yr. ice age? Or ask Fred Flintstone if his diesel go-cart put acid rain into Greenland’s ice core bore 10,000 yrs. ago?
Or was all this climate change blarney just a tour de force to make Al Gore richer?
Peter913 says, Climate Change? Much ado about nothing!
But we do have a problem with political bloviating distractions:-(

#9 Comment By Sam On May 15, 2019 @ 8:04 am

Transparent proponents of doomsday for the planet, brought about by human activity, readily admit (In places such as The Atlantic)that nothing ever proposed by any climate change activist has any chance in altering the course of climate change. So why do we need a Biden or AOC plan on climate change that the activists already admit will not prevent our imminent doom?

#10 Comment By Kent On May 15, 2019 @ 8:32 am

A couple of thoughts:

1. Joe Biden has about zero chance of winning the democratic nomination. He will be a force, but the left isn’t going to be railroaded as was done by Hillary. You can only do that once in every few generations. If on the odd chance he does win, he’ll be crushed by Trump. Nobody wants a return to Clinton-Bush-Obama.

2. Carbon capture is in the unfortunate situation that no one knows how to do it at scale. It is not just a scientific/engineering problem. It may be impossible, no one knows. So attempting to use it as a solution is really just a convenient excuse for doing nothing.

3. Having said 2, one of the interesting things I’ve see on the topic of carbon capture is ocean fertilization. Apparently, the oceans are thick with dormant phytoplankton that are waiting to come into contact with the right chemical elements to bloom. That act of blooming captures carbon. We had a weak hurricane season last year. That is because of wind storms in the Sahara blowing tons of sand into the Atlantic. The sand caused a massive phytoplankton bloom extending halfway across the Atlantic. The bloom absorbed so much CO2 from the atmosphere it cooled both the air and water in that part of the Atlantic making it almost impossible for hurricanes to form there.

#11 Comment By John D. Thullen On May 15, 2019 @ 8:46 am

Without AOC, Biden wouldn’t have been spurred to find the “middle”, wherever and whatever that is for an elitist TAC contributor.

#12 Comment By William Gordon On May 15, 2019 @ 9:32 am

Excellent article. Exactly the journalism which brings liberal me to this site.
And now, cue the climate change denialists in 3-2-1….

#13 Comment By Luke On May 15, 2019 @ 12:05 pm

There is no “solution” to climate change. Any attempts to change climate change (with the obligatory massive taxpayer billing) is nothing but utopian statism. I for one am not willing to pay for it anymore than I’m willing to pay for discretionary foreign wars.

#14 Comment By Chris Mallory On May 15, 2019 @ 12:23 pm

The climate has changed time after time since the Earth was born. The Sun has more effect on our climate than anything humans do. Due to a reduction in solar activity we are facing a coming ice age.

#15 Comment By Gene Smolko On May 15, 2019 @ 12:56 pm

Sam says:

“Transparent proponents of doomsday for the planet, brought about by human activity, readily admit (In places such as The Atlantic)that nothing ever proposed by any climate change activist has any chance in altering the course of climate change.”

No, what’s actually going on is there is difference in expert opinion as to what will work and what won’t. This is such a low info comment. Not only is there a variety of opinion about solutions among experts, but the same is true of activists. You just can’t lump them all together and say they are all saying the same thing because this is completely untrue, and ridiculous.

#16 Comment By MM On May 15, 2019 @ 1:32 pm

Gene: “If we blow past that, the world suffers seriously bad consequences.”

That’s not what the IPCC report actually says, as I read through it:


Firstly, the predicted timeframe is speculative:

p.6 “Global warming is likely to reach 1.5 C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. (high confidence)”

Secondly, the investment costs today, which don’t even mention nuclear power and transitioning from coal to natural gas, are even more speculative:

p.24 “Global model pathways limiting global warming to 1.5 C are projected to involve the annual average investment needs in the energy system of around $2.4 trillion between 2016 and 2035, representing about 2.5% of the world GDP (medium confidence).”

Thirdly, the future costs and risks associated with 1.5 C or higher are not quantified. It’s noted that they’ll just be higher than they are today:

p.11 “Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5 C and increase further with 2 C.”

You can certainly argue the AOC was exaggerating the report to push her Green Leap Forward, but even that doesn’t sweeten the deal.

She’s essentially proposing the largest expansion of federal control and regulation over energy, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and real estate in U.S. history, based on predictions about the future that may be way off in terms of accuracy and/or severity.

And she says there’s no middle ground, no nuclear power allowed, no natural gas allowed, no carbon capture allowed, nothing but the purists’ approach to policy.

When the increased costs hit home, and it already has where I live, you lose a lot of popular support when you approach the problem that way.

#17 Comment By bgone On May 15, 2019 @ 2:57 pm

James “Deus Ex Machina” is as illiterate on the meaning – a contrived plot device where an unexpected power or event resolves a seemingly hopeless situation – as he is on the science.

Economics as such – a dismal science as willfully ignorant of thermodynamics as it is deceitful about the mechanics of political power – does not have anything useful to say on the issue of carbon capture, which is a particularly recursive and self-defeating example of the general problem we are facing even if there was no climate change at all. The long-term impact of increased atmospheric CO2 on weather and oceans is just making our basic dilemma worse.

Carbon capture is, inevitably, an energy sink. Thermodynamics dictates that carbon capture will require more energy expenditure than the original “carbon release” provided – a lot more.

Human civilization of the past 150 years, powered by concentrated deposits of fossil fuel storing millions of years worth of sunlight from tens of millions of year ago, has from the beginning faced declining Energy Returned On Energy Invested – EROEI, a ratio that dropped from 100:1 in the early beginnings of easily tapped prospects to the 10:1 we are approaching now. Between today and the day we reach 1:1, civilization as we know it will end. That day might be less than a generation away.

Given that Energy Returned Over Energy Expended On Carbon Capture – call it EROEECC – is inherently less than one, all that carbon capture does is bring that day forward to the present.

Both climate change mitigation by reducing future carbon emissions – capturing some fraction of future carbon releases – and climate change mitigation by attempting to capture carbon already released depend on one key requirement: we will need even more energy. We need more energy than we could possibly gain from burning fossil carbon just to capture the carbon dioxide released. If we can find an energy source for that, we might as well stop burning fossil carbon, and produce hydrocarbon fuels from the captured carbon.

By the time we get there, we might need a lot more energy to “pay down the CO2 debt” of the past decades for climate mitigation.

In short, we need to find a way to get the energy subsidy we are currently getting from burning concentrated fossil carbon deposits from some other source. If we somehow managed to find such a source – with an EROEI close to what we have today – then we might well decide to use it for carbon capture and a closed cycle hydrocarbon economy. That would be a much better choice than electric or hydrogen, simply because we already invested 150 years of infrastructure spending in the hydrocarbon economy of transportation and construction.

It is safe to say that neither Biden nor AOC – nor Sanders – has really grasped the extent of our predicament, but it should not come as a surprise that Pinkerton’s affinity to the Biden blather results from both being completely unhinged from physical realities.

“Yet human history tells us that when there’s a problem, we’ll find a way to solve it.”

This is the kind of glib, inane meaninglessness one excepts from transhumanist cornucopians or other addled minds. Human history tells us that, when there is a problem, sometimes people, sometimes millions of them, sometimes entire nations die and expire. Human history tells us that not every problem has a solution, not every solution is practical, affordable, or can be implemented with the sources at hand. Pinkerton is , at a guess, liable to argue so in the context of health care or debt. Human history does tell us that humans, in isolation from other populations, have become extinct, as have other primates and all of our hominid ancestors. What human history does not tell us how mankind becomes extinct – because the day the human species dies, human history ends. It is not clear how one is supposed to draw any confidence from human history, and yet Pinkerton tries to play a confidence game with us.

Biden might have to pretend to capture carbon to capture the votes to capture the White House, as a candidate for the frauds and the illiterates, but that will get us no closer to actually addressing the predicament we, and our children, and our children’s children will be facing – and we and they will addressing it without any confidence that, now or in the future, there are any workable solutions left. Human history only tells us that the Bidens and the Pinkertons and all the other “public-private partnerhips for profit” confidence men vanish along with the rest.

#18 Comment By John D. Thullen On May 15, 2019 @ 6:06 pm

Bill Nye, the Science Guy, would like a word. But some won’t like the word. That one either:


#19 Comment By Steve Naidamast On May 15, 2019 @ 6:15 pm

As Klatu once said… “What do you mean, your planet?”…

#20 Comment By polistra On May 15, 2019 @ 6:39 pm

We don’t need any “solution” to weather. We just need to resume maintaining and expanding our infrastructure, as we did BEFORE we fell into the “global warming” fraud.

Back when we understood that weather runs in cycles, we BUILT DAMS which generated CLEAN ELECTRICITY. Now that we are religious fanatics, we TEAR DOWN DAMS to pacify Gaia, requiring more DIRTY electricity to replace the CLEAN electricity.

The real purpose of the hoax, like everything else in DC and NYC, is to obliterate real business and industry so the entire economy can be pure finance.

#21 Comment By MM On May 15, 2019 @ 9:45 pm

bgone: “Economics as such – a dismal science as willfully ignorant of thermodynamics as it is deceitful about the mechanics of political power – does not have anything useful to say on the issue of carbon capture.”

How about engineering, sir?

Could you point me to any consensus, say 90% of engineers, who’ve shown that green power alone, and no other types, is feasible on a national and global scale?

For that matter, show me any industrialized country that’s anywhere near 100% green power, domestically produced, without the need to import any of those dirty sources?

I’ve searched and searched and haven’t found those anywhere…

#22 Comment By Robert K U On May 15, 2019 @ 10:50 pm

I am a Danish, retired nuclear physicist. This is a timely moment to resume the peaceful exploitation of nuclear energy. If the U.S.A. had continued to develop nuclear energy since the 1970’s, its CO2 emissions today would be half that of their present size. Nuclear power can provide electricity, water desalination, and metallurgical reffinary to developing countries who will then be more interested in peace and less in conflicts. Small and large accidents are perhaps impossible to avoid, because of the complexity of nuclear power plants, but that is also true of the modern world in general, e.g. traffic accidents, stock market crashes, or indeed the climate catastrophe. Let nations grow responsible, and we need not fear the weapons proliferation issue.

#23 Comment By Fayez Abedaziz On May 16, 2019 @ 12:30 am

After we’ve seen what the so-called ‘opposition’ is in the Dem party, well..
how has that worked out in the wars the Repub’s made in the past coupla decades?
In other words, middle ground is just going with what has been going on and to keep on going.
Biden is just another Hillary and no problems will be seriously addressed by this creepy guy and the critters in the houses in D.C.
The politicians are a joke and they will do as
the lobbies want. The leadership of both parties are old and corrupt and the younger members aren’t any better (except for the ladies from Hawaii, Minnesota, Michigan and AOC) but the crooks are already gearing to destroy them. Ah, good old ‘democracy’ and American ‘fairness.’
See, Hillary and Pelosi are neocon supprters, but quietly. Obama was a coward and didn’t plan for say, a decade. Schumer, Graham and the other big mouths offer nothing for the future of the American workers and families.
Middle ground? Are you kidding?
And, the one person that should be President is Jill Stein. But…she’s honest, so that’s that. Except for the ladies I mentioned above, from those states, I say go to hell to the people I named just above, like crooked Hillary and war enabling Pelosi.
Over at the dinners and fund raisers, these politicians make fun of and look down on the American people.

#24 Comment By Sam On May 16, 2019 @ 4:34 am

The level of climate change hysteria even on a site such as TAC is stunning. One day people will look back at “climate change” like we look back at those who predicted not long ago that the world would run out of food and mass starvation would occur. The world has gone through major climate change from the beginning of time, and presumably will continue to do so until Jesus comes back. Nothing significant that anyone can do about it. Common sense sustainability, yes; climate change hysteria, no.

#25 Comment By Deacon Blue On May 16, 2019 @ 4:53 am

The “climate” shouldn’t even be an “issue.”

Anything we humans do isn’t going to change it one way of the other.

This theory of man-made global warming/climate change has been at the top of the “agenda” for almost 3 decades now. All of the terrible things that were supposed to have happened to us by now have NOT happened.

Fewer hurricanes, fewer tornadoes, plenty of snow, droughts come and then go, no city under water. At some point aren’t these “scientists” going to be judged by whether the predictions made in their “hypotheses” actually happened?

#26 Comment By James from Durham On May 16, 2019 @ 7:41 am

So Luke you would sacrifice your children’s future for your Free Market principles then?

Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his child to the will of God. But to do it for money? That’s low even by right wing standards.

#27 Comment By Claude Roessiger On May 16, 2019 @ 8:49 am

Such comment only parses foolishness, seeking to draw a distinction between AOC’s utter foolishness and Biden’s foolishness light. As Wm. F. Buckley once said about baloney, it doesn’t matter how thin you slice it, it’s still baloney. There is sufficient evidence, not hypothesis or theory or projections, now on the table to have a “What do we know, and what do we not know?” moment in this climate matter. It’s no good vociferously reiterating the litany of the climate movement that “We know, we know, we know.” One must defend affirmations in an open forum that hears, with due respect, all views. It is false that “all scientists agree”, no more than a banner by which to shut down any view that disagrees. But day by day, as the observed evidence fails to conform to alarmist projections, the question is increasingly pertinent: what is going on, what do we know, what do we not know, and what are all the policy options? A candidate who would favor open discussion, as there must always be in science and public policy, would be a hero.

#28 Comment By Dave On May 16, 2019 @ 9:50 am

Republicans support carbon capture only because it’s years away. If it were to become a real solution, they would back away from it because it’s “too expensive.”

We have solutions at hand but few conservatives are ready to implement them. Instead, they try to foment discord among Democrats and ignore the fact that Republicans have been blocking solutions for decades.

#29 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On May 16, 2019 @ 10:00 am

@Chris Mallory

You may be right about this. Really, what we call “climatology” is a relatively recent science and we know so little about how the earths climate really works. While it’s true that the world temps are rising and while it’s true that human affairs contribute it remains unclear to what extent and how much of a dent we can make in a process which after all is said and done (given that the earth is not the only planet warming up) may be a natural process that is inevitable.

#30 Comment By JonF On May 16, 2019 @ 10:12 am

Bone, Natural sources of carbon capture, e.g., plant life, may require energy too but that energy is 100% solar and isn’t provided by human inputs.

#31 Comment By Dave On May 16, 2019 @ 11:03 am

Claude Roessiger,

Nobody said “all scientists agree.” (I’m sure you can find a horde of skeptical chemists and cytologists, after all.) And “observed evidence” such as melting ice caps and glaciers and rising seas confirm predictions and are having real effects right now. But are all predictions by all predictors coming true at this moment? I doubt it.

By all means more “open discussion.” Because we haven’t been talking about it enough over the last 20 years.

#32 Comment By Johann On May 16, 2019 @ 11:20 am

Global warministas must face reality. Any significant reduction of CO2 emissions will not happen in the near future. People will not accept it. Pipe dreams of wind and solar energy or any other so-called renewable energy source replacing fossil fuel sources ignore reality. The only remote hope to replace fossil fuels is nuclear energy. Conversion to natural gas would greatly reduce CO2 emissions, but that does not satisfy the purists. Replacing current power generation with Nuclear energy will take at least 25 years, probably longer.

A realist must face the fact that fossil fuel energy production will continue for the foreseeable future until some future technology that is viable is discovered and developed, unless we can change the minds of the warministas on nuclear power. All else is pie-in-the-sky dreaming that will do nothing but impose massive poverty on the world.

A more realistic approach is to improve economic development, especially in currently third world countries. Why? Because economic development will greatly improve the ability to mitigate the effects of global warming.

We will NOT be eliminating fossil fuel air travel and land vehicle travel using fossil fuels near term. It ain’t gonna happen. We must realize that and develop realistic strategies. Trying to eliminate or even greatly decreasing CO2 emissions in the near term, like withing 50 years or less, will be a massive failure resulting in mass poverty and death.

#33 Comment By Dave On May 16, 2019 @ 2:14 pm

I mostly agree with you, Johann. I fully support an “all of the above” approach similar to what you state, and what Obama advocated. (Though I disagree with your dismissal of of wind and solar.)

#34 Comment By MM On May 16, 2019 @ 5:15 pm

Robert: “If the U.S.A. had continued to develop nuclear energy since the 1970s, its CO2 emissions today would be half that of their present size.”

Yeah, and who was at the forefront of opposing nuclear power, and frightening the public with works of fiction?

Anyway, conservatives don’t like the idea of industrial policy, but that’s what it will take to expand nuclear and desalinisation, which do represent large-scale, long-term solutions to climate change.

What’s your opinion on 4th Generation nuclear?

#35 Comment By Eddie On May 17, 2019 @ 10:31 am

Windmills kill bald eagles.