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« ECC on gas strategy | Main | Science policy to the left of me »
Wednesday
Feb132013

Political inertia

The big news overnight was of course Obama's state of the Union address, in which he announced that he was going to get tough on climate change:

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday gave Congress an ultimatum on climate change: craft a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the dangers of a warming world, or the White House will go it alone.

"If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will," Obama said in his State of the Union address. "I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

Whether he means this or not will only become true in the fullness of time. But isn't it extraordinary, or perhaps not, that none of this new evidence on low climate sensitivity seems to have made the slightest difference to the political process?

 

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Reader Comments (24)

What is it all about?
Is it Agenda 21, Club of Rome, Bilderberg group ? Surely not,but it looks more and more like a conspiracy.
Politicians in US, Europe, Australia etc can't all be stupid, can they?

Feb 13, 2013 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

"Politicians in US, Europe, Australia etc can't all be stupid, can they?"

No, but exactly what do you expect them to do? I doubt that Obama or the Cleggeron read WUWT or CA or this venerable site, and so will be getting advice from advisers. As it should be, really.

The problem then isn't with politicians, it is with the adviser classes - and since this includes the likes of Nurse and Beddington it is hardly surprising that nothing changes.

Feb 13, 2013 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

"But isn't it extraordinary, or perhaps not, that none of this new evidence on low climate sensitivity seems to have made the slightest difference to the political process?"

It's not extraordinary, I think. AGW is entirely faith based by now. Science is just whatever they want it to be, whatever makes them feel good about themselves. Bless! Lefties never really grow up, see. If they weren't at war with reality, they might have to deal with it. Scary!

Feb 13, 2013 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter H

"If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will,"

And this is meant to be democracy what has happened to people power? Despite growing evidence questioning the validity of CAGW, The President and his band of merry men have decided what needs to be done to save the planet.

Isn't this what the followers of the Taliban do - impose their will and interpretation of the Koran?

Feb 13, 2013 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

"If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will," Obama said in his State of the Union address. "I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
Use the EPA to even greater (but disastrous) effect I think.

Feb 13, 2013 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

There isn't a single member of any of the governments who is prepared to say that he/she is sorry, but we got it wrong and we are now going to pursue a rational policy.

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

What saddens me most about Obama is not his professed dreams and ambitions, but the total apathy of the people.

“Climate change is happening! It is all our fault! The government must do something!”

Note: it is “the government” that must do something, not “we, the people”. “We, the people” are merrily going about their lives as normal, driving, flying, heating, cooling as they so wish, probably ‘cos they idly, foolishly believe that “the government” will look after them, no matter what.

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Actually, what I have just stated is a socialist’s wet-dream – “we, the people sheeple” blindly following what the state tells them to, though perhaps even more so than sheep. Wish I had thought to put that comment in the post.

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

I don't think it's 'faith'. The answer is much more simple than that.

CAGW is the greatest tool those in power have had since religion. 'Do the right thing or the world will die and your children will perish'. Left, right, makes no difference. You can use it to get people to behave however you want.

Those in power simply aren't interested in hearing contrary evidence. Why would they give up such a useful tool voluntarily?

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

"the greatest tool those in power have had since religion"

And fills the space left by increasing secularism. I bet the Taliban don't fret about AGW.

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:36 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

It is urgent to act now because the evidence that action is necessary is disappearing and people are less and less interested as time goes on. This is their last shot at it. But really, I think government by executive order, while nothing new, has gone a little too far. This is largely due to the fact that the Republican Party went crazy and people seem to accept that governing by Executive Orders seem OK in comparison to trying to bargain with crazy people.

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterfirehouse_harris

If he really believes CAGW is a genuine threat to the nation (i.e. a real and significant long-term threat to US National Security), then he should be proposing direct action against the world's leading producer of CO2 'polution'... China!

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

@G.Watkins Feb 13, 2013 at 11:14 AM

They can.

And are.

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterHeretic

I shouldn't worry about what Obama promises. He promised to close Guantanamo and hasn't, he promised to wind down in Afghan and hasn't, he promised due process for terrorists and kills both them and any bystanders by means of drones, he promised to focus on unemployment which has increased, he promised to reduce spending but increased it. He loves making big speeches appealing for popular support- he doesn't do the grind to make them happen. And every promise has an expiration date.
Worry more that he won't keep his administration on any particular track, but will let them each pursue their own agenda.
On the other hand four more years should be enough to finally discredit the agenda.

Feb 13, 2013 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat

@steveta_uk: "The problem is n't with politicians, it is with the advisor class". I do not think this is the real problem. The detachment of party leadership from their roots ( e.g. voters and party members) impells politicians to rely more and more on donors with control of wealth, thus losing their ears to the ground. Advisors and focus groups (strange invention) can be easily dismissed, as seen often in more rigidly controlled countries. The problem is very likely created by the paymasters of the politicians.

Feb 13, 2013 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered Commenteroebele bruinsma

Bish

"intertia"? Sorry if it's a subtle play on words...

Feb 13, 2013 at 2:30 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Does he read his speeches before he makes them? I would guess "maybe".

Does he write his speeches? I doubt it.

Do his speechwriters determine policies? Probably not. Their job is to make sure his speeches press every political button in sight (and some that aren't).

Feb 13, 2013 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Maybe Obama's speechwriters also write Attenborough's nonsense.

Feb 13, 2013 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

This absentee landlord of a President does not know about climate: He is like all too many modern elites, insular and self-absorbed and uncritical in the real sense of the word.
He does not care about the office he holds and relies on a credulous lazy press to place blame on others, take credit for himself and avoid any semblance of accountability for his long list of failed policies.
Watching this unfold is going to be like watching a trainwreck. From inside the train.

Feb 13, 2013 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

The utility of political advisers is frequently zero; a high school classmate of my son's was raised by a fiercely protective solo mum, who shielded the lad from the reality of work until he had completed his second degree in economics, at which point he accepted a position in Treasury. Sadly, he missed out on life experiences his classmates had, such as working in the local supermarket after school each day, travelling the world on little money and generally finding out for himself how the world works.
He is now in his mid-thirties, has never moved from Treasury and is now a government advisor.

Feb 13, 2013 at 7:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

"Never let a crisis go to waste"

So no, those who favor more government control have no incentive to consider new information.

Feb 13, 2013 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jay

But Obama will also " keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits." Given that he is not a BH reader and depends, as others have said, on advisors (he can't know everything about everything) it looks to me as if he is hedging his bets. Sounds pragmatic to me. Expect the Keystone XL pipeline to be approved in April.

Feb 13, 2013 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterpotentilla

Some interesting commentary here on the collectivist rhetoric in Obama's speech. Suggests some disturbing issues for the long-term future of representative democracy.

Feb 14, 2013 at 1:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Heyworth

That was an interesting, albeit brief, read, Alex. I did not really get the negative suggestion for the future of representative democracy directly from his writings, though I am at least familiar enough with his sources (through quotes/excerpts) to be concerned.though

The difference this time is the incredible interconnectedness that exists across the globe. I think the next bubble will be a global reboot. Unless the whole bible thing turns out to be true, which will at least be good for some folks. I'm boned either way as far as i can estimate. Might as well enjoy it while I can.

Mark

Feb 14, 2013 at 6:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark T

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