Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Cynical Washington Pundit Weighs in on Global Warming

Robert Samuelson must have been in a cheery mood when he wrote these cynical words, appearing in today's Washington Post: "The dirty secret about global warming is this: We have no solution."

But then he goes on to describe some solutions, including a high oil tax and increased research on nuclear power, electric batteries, alternative fuels and capturing carbon dioxide. Many potential solutions are either available or are in development. And even the Bush Administrtion's own projections offer some reason for hope.

For example, the Department of Energy conservatively estimates that biofuels could displace at least 30 percent of our liquid fuel consumption by the year 2030. No panacea for sure. None of the potential solutions are. And we certainly don't know whether they will avert the worst possible outcomes of global warming. But Samuelson fails to point out that this is a 50- to 100-year project. We built the current oil infrastructure in considerably less than that amount of time. So why does he so easily dismiss the possibility that we can achieve the same kind of transformation again?

As I warned in my previous post, we can't trust the political reporters — especially the ones in Washington — to cover the coming policy debates about global warming, at least not alone. Their view from inside the Beltway is way too jaundiced.

-- Tom

1 comment:

John said...

Damn! Another blog I have to read.

Actually thanks, this sort of thing is needed. Glad you're doing it. On Samuelson, I think you're making a mistake pigeon-holing him as an inside-the-beltway political reporter. We've been carrying his column in my newspaper (in part at my urging) precisely because he write interestingly on the underlying economics of this and other issues. Doesn't mean he's right, but I think the economic component is left largely undiscussed, which is why I am happy the Albuquerque Journal is running his column.