Earth isn't flat

Energy challenges are real -- but the solution lies in moderation

The most intemperate part of the global warming debate may be President Obama’s own rhetoric.


In announcing new executive-order restrictions on carbon emissions recently, the president ridiculed opponents in unbecomingly dismissive and condescending terms.

“I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real,” he said. “We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.”

But there’s apparently plenty of time to mock opponents, after nearly five years of inaction on the topic. Suddenly, we’re out of time to debate it, and if you don’t agree with him, you’re stupid anyway.

This is not the sort of rhetoric one normally would expect or want from a president of the United States.

That’s sad, particularly since there are many undecided and skeptical observers who might otherwise be persuaded one way or another by a more erudite – or just less disdainful – argument.

Many of those who remain skeptical – either of global warming or man’s role in it – are nonetheless willing to take reasonable steps to reduce pollution just in case the dire predictions ring true. The worst that happens under that scenario is that we clean up the planet a little.

Instead, there’s no room for disagreement, and those who seek moderation think the Earth is flat.

Syndicated columnist and apparent flat-Earther Charles Krauthammer said in response in that global temperatures have been flat for the past 16 years; the U.S. has reduced carbon dioxide emissions to 1992 levels, more than any other nation since 2006; and whatever we do, China and India alone continue to flip the switch on one new coal plant a week.

“Even if you believe in global warming,” Krauthammer said, “this is going to have zero effect on the climate.”

We wish it were going to have zero effect on the economy, but it’s likely to increase unemployment, cripple the nation’s coal industry and, as Krauthammer puts it, basically ship the industry overseas.

All through executive action – without the lift of a finger by Congress.

We do appreciate the president’s intentions. We all want a cleaner planet. No one wants that more than our kids; the nation’s young are especially supportive of the president’s plans.

Ironically, of course, no generation in history has used more electricity. And electricity has made their generation the most comfortable, wall-to-wall entertained generation in history as well.

But it has to come from somewhere. And while renewables are exciting and need to be brought online as quickly as possible, no one in any sector of the energy business believes they are anywhere close to fueling the bulk of our energy needs yet.

Mr. Obama’s actions are being called a “war on coal” – not just by Republicans, but by Democrats and – unbelievably – by the president’s own science adviser.

“It’s clear now that the president has declared a war on coal,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

“The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants,” Obama science adviser Daniel P. Schrag was briefly quoted in the New York Times. “Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

By all means, let’s unilaterally disarm in the Energy Race and leave the future to the Chinas and Russias of the world. How would our children like that?

We happen to think a more productive and less punitive course of action, rather than trying to regulate coal out of existence, would be for the federal government to incentivize and cheerlead and accelerate the development of alternative and renewable energy sources while not hindering production of existing sources of mass energy.

That’s not saying the Earth is flat. It’s merely saying there are different approaches to a problem.



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