Analysis: Biden ‘would literally do everything differently if he really cared about’ climate change

Biden’s Age of Climate Decadence
He would literally do everything differently if he really cared about our carbon risks.

By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.


Ideas briefly flourished in the early 2000s, when the debate was between a carbon tax and an inferior carbon tax, known as cap and trade, which dismayed experts but pleased corporate lobbyists by bestowing an advantage on existing emitters. Cap and trade almost passed.

Then Barack Obama was elected. Al Gore debouched himself of a new edict. An alleged climate crisis no longer required any unpopular energy taxes at all. By some process not explained, the emergency had become a political free lunch, requiring congresspersons only to do what they like doing anyway, dishing out subsidies to favored constituents.

Suppose you actually cared about climate change. You would not throw episodic subsidies at things that can survive only as long as you are subsidizing them. You would try to set in motion long-term trends that have the advantage of being in accordance with existing trends.

Mr. Obama, instead of the climate speech he gave in 2013, would have sought to begin bargaining between Democrats and Republicans over how both could realize their tax policy goals with a carbon tax. A carbon tax would spread a low-carbon incentive through every transaction in the economy, not just the handful that government gets permission from voters to subsidize directly (e.g., electric cars).

Donald Trump, with his usual noisy ambiguity, actually seemed to be referring to the climate lobby, not climate science, when he used the term “hoax”—“it’s a moneymaking industry.” He finds himself now in accord with the latest film by Michael Moore, the left-wing filmmaker.

Mr. Trump dumped the Paris climate deal that important greens already considered “worthless words.” He promised to get government’s foot off the coal industry but he also promised the same for natural gas, which continues to displace coal and actually shrink U.S. emissions.

Unfortunately America is absurdly supplied with citizens whose professed passion for climate science is not matched by a desire to know anything about it.

Many true climate worriers have begun to register that, when a scientific problem becomes a religion, it doesn’t help. Advocates are satisfied to exhibit their virtue rather than do the hard work, and hard thinking, to ensure practical, noncorrupt results.

On some level, the public relies on the media and political elites to think seriously about matters that it doesn’t pay for the average voter to think seriously about. Often the public is let down. Climate effects and related issues of cost and benefit are one such case. Until this changes, the biggest lie will be the lie that the Biden administration is doing anything about the problem of climate change.