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Saturday, February 16, 2013

GOP salvation watch

Recommended reading: "How to Save the Republican Party," by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner at Commentary. I agree with much but not all. Excerpt:
To acknowledge climate disruption need hardly lead one to embrace Al Gore’s policy agenda. It is perfectly reasonable to doubt the merits of pushing for a global deal to cut carbon emissions—a deal that is almost surely beyond reach—and to argue instead for a focus on adaptation and investments in new and emerging technologies. Republicans could back an entrepreneurial approach to technical and scientific investment as opposed to the top-down approach of unwieldy government bureaucracies offering huge subsidies to favored companies such as Solyndra. (See above, under “corporate welfare.”) 
Confronting climate change is important in and of itself. It is also important as a matter of epistemology, to show that Republicans are not, in fact, at war with the scientific method. Only then will Republicans have adequate standing to criticize junk science when it’s used as a tort weapon or as an obstacle to new energy technologies.
Me: This is a vast improvement over the currently pervasive Republican denialism and glibness ("government can't control the weather") on this issue. The policy approach is not exactly what I'd prefer. A carbon tax that includes imports (and thus pressures other countries to adopt carbon taxes or pricing) is far more feasible than a global agreement, and would be complement and spur to the R&D that the authors want.

There is much else in the piece of value, but I'm not sure the authors have entirely faced up to an implication of their analogy of today's GOP to Democrats of 1970-1992 and Labourites of 1970-1997. That is, it took a long time for those parties to reform themselves (whereas Gerson and Wehner, understandably, pivot to a discussion of 2016). On the other hand, maybe things move faster now.

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